The reason we apply more than one exercise for each muscle group – and the reason we include exercises for cardiovascular efficiency, balance, and coordination in many people’s programs – can be seen in the sketches of Leonardo da Vinci. Or in the same guy’s sculptures, for that matter. Or in the pages of Grey’s Anatomy. The whole thing is connected.
The brilliance of the body includes the way muscles are wrapped to team with each other. They join to do most jobs. And that’s why exercising them all requires that we find a way to focus particular motions on particular muscles.
We call that isolating a muscle for exercise. It’s why there’s more than one exercise for shoulders, for arms, for legs, and so forth. Bundles of muscles have different component parts, and some of those parts seem to “hide” from exercise, relying on their big brothers or sisters next door. (The abdominal muscle groups are famous for this.) Reaching our muscles thoroughly calls for education and experience.
The Benefits of Being Comprehensive
Because some muscles are more prominent than others, why exercise them all? The best answer is balance. Our skeletons are aligned for efficiency, and without balance that efficiency is off. If balance gets too far off, that can cause pain as well as poor performance. Taking a comprehensive approach to exercise is a functional way to respect the brilliant – and beauty – of this design.
Redundancy is built into our muscle systems, too. A Rugby-playing friend disconnected his whole biceps making a tackle, back when where was no substitution allowed in Rugby. In addition to completing the game, he was a little surprised to find that he could still crook his arm. “I though that’s what the biceps were for,” he said. Turns out there are other, smaller muscles helping get that done, and they took over. The surgeon who reattached our friend’s biceps pointed out that doing so was mainly for looks. Yes, normal people don’t run these risks, but it was an interesting lesson anyway.
When Opposing Forces are Good
An engineering friend pointed out that bridges don’t stand up just because they are strong. In fact, most bridges would be too heavy to stand, if strength were the only factor at work. It is the balance of opposing forces that makes the Talmadge bridge stand up in Savannah, or the Golden Gate in San Francisco. Some of the body’s structure works that way too.
An example of this, that many people are reminded of as life goes on, is the teamwork of the abdominal muscles and the muscles of the lower back. Daily life for most people simply brings with it more work for the muscles of the lower back than for the abdominals, so the abs usually need more work. Strong abs protect the back. They are one of the keys for preventing back problems, or in recovering from them.
Opposing forces play a role in the aesthetic benefits of training, too. Ever seen a guy who made his biceps as big as a leg and left his triceps to fend for themselves? Not an ideal picture.
The variety of exercises that is right for you is one of the most characteristic, individual elements in an effective exercise program. Genetics, prior training, lifestyle, and even mannerisms are just some of the variables to be considered.
Assessing the difference between the body you have and the body you want is the beginning of identifying the most effective process, and it is a job to assign to an experienced, proficient, up-to-date trainer. Here at Eclipse 1-on-1, our accomplished team of personal trainers can do just that. We are as invested in your success as you are. Let’s get acquainted.