Muscle groups giving you all the right moves

Muscle groups giving you all the right moves

Any discussion about fitness would be remiss to ignore the fact that certain muscle groups need attention – everyday.  Often referred to as the “big four,” these large muscle groups include the following: chest, legs, back and abdominals. When your workout includes exercises focusing on these key muscle groups, you will be getting the most out of your workouts, whether you have five minutes or an hour.

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The reason why these four muscle groups – also called the ‘moving around” muscles - deserve and need special attention, is to help each of us age gracefully and healthfully throughout life. Muscles within these four groups such as the glutes (buttocks), hamstrings (back of the thigh), and quadriceps (front of the thigh), are what provide you more energy, more stamina, more strength, and better balance along with muscle mass resulting in a healthier body weight.

The nice thing about working these key muscle groups is it doesn’t necessarily take a ton of time.  You don’t have to go to the gym or spend hours pumping heavy iron to strengthen and build these 4 vital muscle groups.  In the comfort of your home in about 5-10 minutes a day, you can work your body’s major muscle groups in a single strength training session. 

Begin today to incorporate the following exercises in your daily routine. Whether done all at one time or scattered throughout the day, slowly but surely, you’ll begin to notice and see a difference in how you look, feel and perform.

Chest Muscles

·      Wall-pushups

Stand about an arm’s length away from a wall, feet flat on the floor and shoulder-width apart. Place your palms flat against the wall at shoulder height. Keep your hands shoulder-width apart.  Bend your elbows, keeping them close to your body. Avoid pointing your elbows out to the sides and move your upper body toward the wall in a slow, controlled motion. Hold for one second, and then return to the start position.  Repeat 10 to 15 times.

·      Regular or modified push-ups

The old-fashioned push-up is still the state-of-the-art move for building your chest muscles, especially the pectorals.

Regular push-up

Start in a plank position. Place hands firmly on the ground, directly under the shoulders. Ground toes into the floor to stabilize your lower half. Brace core (tighten abs as if preparing to take a punch), engage glutes and hamstrings, and flatten your back so your entire body is neutral and straight. Begin to lower your body – keeping back flat and eyes focuses about three feet in front of you to maintain a neutral neck – until chest grazes floor. Don’t let your butt dip or stick out at any point during the move.  Draw shoulder blades back and down, keeping elbows tucked close to your body. Keeping your core engaged, exhale as you push back to the starting position. A pro tip: Imagine you are screwing your hands into the ground as you push back up.  Repeat 10 or more times.

Modified push-up

Start in a plank position but have your knees on the floor with your feet up off the floor. Palms are shoulder-width apart. Slowly lower your torso to the floor on a six-count of ‘one-thousand, two-thousand,” etc. Don’t hold your breath on the way down. Touch your mat with your chest on the sixth second, then pause one second and come back up on a two-count. Repeat 10 times or more.

Leg Muscles – includes glutes, hamstrings and quadriceps

·      Climbing stairs

An ideal daily activity to build leg muscle groups of the hamstrings, quadriceps, and glutes, is to climb stairs. If you have access to a staircase, start modestly, gradually building up to 20 to 30 minutes a day at a pace that simulates how you walk when late for an appointment. Taking the stairs is also a superior calorie burner.

·      Forward lunge

Stand with your feet together, shoulders back. Slowly step forward with your right foot, dropping your hips toward the floor. Continue lowering your body until your front thigh becomes parallel with the floor. Keep your right knee over your right ankle.  Hold for one second, and then push off with your front leg to return to the starting position. Repeat 10 to 15 times. 

Back Muscles 

·      Superman Pose   

Start with lying on the floor on your stomach. Place your arms out in front of you lifted off the floor as if you are flying. Hold for a count of 5.  Repeat 10 or more times.

Abdominal Muscles

·      Bridge

This move is not only good for the abs but also for the buttocks and hips. Lie on your back with your arms by your sides, palms down. Bend your knees, keeping your feet flat on the floor and hip-width apart. Contract your abdominal muscles so your lower back flattens onto the floor. Tighten your buttocks and push your hips upward. Hold for one second, then slowly lower yourself back to the starting position.

·      Sit to stand  

This is another move good for your core but also leg and back muscles. Sit on the edge of a sturdy chair with your back straight and feet should-width apart. Cross your arms over your chest. Slowly lean forward over your knees and stand up. Pause for a few seconds.  In a controlled motion, slowly sit back down. Repeat 8 to 12 times.