Lower Body Exercises For Beginning Bodybuilders
By: Richard Mitchell
The lower body contains some of your biggest muscles which are capable of bearing significant weights. The temptation for beginners to go for broke by performing heavy squats should be resisted. To begin with you should concentrate on building the muscles safely by using machines that isolate muscle groups. The squat is an excellent compound exercise that trains numerous lower body muscles but it is one you should learn properly after spending three months strengthening the individual muscles that will be utilized later.
The muscles of the lower body can be divided into five groups:
1. Quads - this is the big muscle group consisting of four muscles at the front of the thigh. These are the primary muscles used when performing exercises such as squats, leg press, lunge and leg extension.
2. Hamstrings - these are the main muscles at the back of the thigh. These are the primary muscles used when performing leg curls.
3. Gluteals - these are the muscles that make up the buttocks.
4. Hip flexors - these are the small muscles at the front of the pelvis that allow you to raise your legs to the front.
5. Calves - these are the two muscles found in the lower leg.
For beginners these muscles should be exercised as follows:
1. Leg press - 1 set of 10-15 reps. This is a useful exercise for the quads but it also works the hamstrings and glutes to a lesser degree.
2. Leg extension - 3 sets of 10-15 reps. This is a useful exercise for adding definition to the quads.
3. Hamstring curl - 3 sets of 10-15 reps. This exercise isolates the hamstrings.
4. Standing calf raise - 3 sets of 10-15 reps. This exercise works the gastrocnemius muscle.
5. Seated calf raise - 3 sets of 10-15 reps. This exercise works the soleus muscle underneath the gastrocnemius muscle.
As with all exercises you need to take care in scheduling specific body parts. To begin with you should incorporate your lower body exercises into a program similar to the one suggested below:
Day 1: Biceps, Back, Abs
Day 2: Hamstrings, Shoulders, Abs
Day 3: Quads, Forearms, Calves
Day 4: Triceps, Chest, Abs
For the first couple of weeks complete one set but then add one set each week to a maximum of three. At the end of three months you will be ready to move on to more intensive intermediate level exercises.
Richard Mitchell is the creator of the bodybuildingadvisor.com website that provides guidance and information to athletes at all levels of bodybuilding experience. Go to Bodybuilding Advice to learn more about the issues covered in this article.
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The Power of Stretching - Dave Snape
muscles ache from a good stretch. This is quite
normal and is part of the process. Stretching has
seemingly been with us and particularly with athletes
since the beginning of time.
A very key point to good stretching is to hold the
stretch for at least seventeen seconds. This is a
pearl of wisdom gleaned from a ballet teacher a few
years back. She said that any stretch under 17
seconds was just not effective.
The 17 second rule is exceeded in the high intensity
Bikram's yoga where stretches are held for about 30
seconds. Don't forget the high level of heat that is
used in Bikram's to extract that last little bit of
stretch out of your muscles. An interesting twist
is not necessary to gain benefits from stretching.
it can't hurt, right?
So what kind of benefits can you expect from
stretching? That's an easy one. Have you ever seen
movie, Blood Sport? Did you know that Frank Dux could
truly stretch his body to the extreme. The actor that
played him was quite elastic as well.
Great elasticity is also something you might see in
well trained Spetsnaz (Russian) agents. They often
out with Russian kettlebells too. They are for
strength gains and the ability to withstand ballistic
Why are stretching and flexibility considered
to these people? Stretching gives one the ability to
have explosive power available at one's fingertips
without the need to warm up. Of course most of us are
not martial artists or agents. But, you'll be happy
know there are plenty of other benefits.
Let me give you an example. After learning to sit in
the full lotus position for long periods of time, my
ankles became very flexible. One day I was walking
along and my left foot fell into a pothole. This
pushed my ankle sideways to about 90 degrees from
Amazingly, this didn't even hurt, not one bit. If my
ankle hadn't been so flexible, I may have suffered a
sprained ankle. At the very least, it would have hurt
Key point: stretching helps you to avoid injuries.
Not only that but if you do have a muscle, tendon or
ligament injury it should heal faster, theoretically
Stretching actually grows the ligaments, tendons and
muscles being stretched. They really grow longer over
Check with your physician before undertaking any type
of exercise, including stretching.
Here is some good
instructional material on stretching:
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