Exercises for Components of Fitness: Part II

Part II: Muscular Strength

Three exercises I’ve chosen to describe for muscular strength improvement are the plank, the dead lift, and a chest press on a stability ball. 

 When using weights to improve muscular strength, it is important to choose a weight that allows you to do a set of eight to twelve repetitions with strict form, but leaving the muscles fatigued so that another rep cannot be executed with good form. Try and do three sets of eight to twelve reps.

The plank works all of the abdominal muscles, plus the shoulders and lower and middle back. Start by lying on your stomach with your forearms and balls of feet on the floor. Lift your body off the floor with your elbows directly under your shoulders. The hips should be low, with the body parallel to the floor. Keep the head and neck in a straight line. Hold this position for as long as possible (try for at least a minute).

 To do a dead lift, choose a set of weights that will leave your muscles fatigued after eight to twelve reps. Stand straight with your feet shoulder width apart and the knees slightly bent. Hold the weights with your palms facing you. Your arms should be shoulder width apart. Slowly bend over at the hips to lower the weights to the knees. Tighten the abs, keep the back straight, and keep the head and neck in a straight line. Then slowly raise the body back up.

Doing a chest press on a stability ball makes it more challenging and engages the abdominal and back muscles as well. Try not to move the ball at all. Lie back on the ball with your upper back and head on the ball. The feet should be shoulder width apart and knees bent at ninety degrees. The thighs and body should form a straight line. The elbows should be pointing to the sides and the palms should face the feet. Slowly push the weights up above the chest and slowly lower back down.

Remember, when you are doing resistance and weight training, work the largest muscle groups first. This will keep you from fatiguing the smaller muscles in the beginning of the workout and ensure that you will be able to keep the proper form throughout. For example, chest, back, shoulders, biceps, then triceps.

Written by Genie Bianchi 

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