Lunges are only for the serious gym rat who’s willing to push well through the pain barrier into the valley of unbelievable thighs.
Awesome thighs require heavy mass that flows across the entire quadriceps area with deep canyons etched between each muscle belly. Etching the separation in the muscle bellies of the middle quadriceps and lower thigh area just above the knee is particularly difficult for many serious weight trainers. Although regular squats and leg presses are great mass builders – and the cornerstone of any thigh building program – they simply don’t get the job done when it comes to developing thigh separation and cuts. Achieving those deep separations requires exercises that build mass by targeting each of the bellies under near-constant tension and this means some specialization work for the middle and the lower quadriceps.
Although lunges are an outstanding exercise if you’re anticipating great skiing (especially cross-country skiing), they’re also an intensive way to blast a bulky thigh into strips of sharp and lean mass any time of year. As a by-product, lunges will greatly improve your quadriceps power and endurance and this will come in pretty handy when you start your heavy squat sessions for adding even greater overall mass.
To do lunges properly, you must rise above the crowd that’s satisfied with a few sets of leg extensions to tighten the quadriceps. Lunges are only for the serious gym rat who’s willing to push well through the pain barrier into the valley of unbelievable thighs. Three sets of these will take your thighs to new contours, valleys and grooves you didn’t know existed.
The hip and hamstring muscles are affected strongly, but the greatest challenge will be felt in the anterior quadriceps muscle group. The quadriceps femoris (“quads”) are a group of four muscles that cover the anterior and lateral parts of the femur bone of the thigh. The three vasti muscles take their origin from their respective parts of the femur: the vastus lateralis muscle from the lateral part of the femur; the vastus medialis muscle from the medial part of the femur; and, the vastus intermedius muscle from the central, anterior part of the femur. As a result, the vastus lateralis muscle is positioned on the lateral (outer) part of the thigh; the vastus medialis covers the medial (inner) part of the thigh. The vastus intermedius is located intermediate and deep to the vastus lateralis and the vastus medialis muscles. The tendon from the vastus lateralis muscle combines with the tendons from the other two vasti muscles and the tendon of the rectus femoris to form the quadriceps tendon. The quadriceps tendon attaches to the patella (kneecap) and continues inferiorly (toward the foot) from the patella, where it’s called the patellar ligament. The patellar ligament inserts into the tibial tuberosity, a bumpy portion on the tibia bone of the lower leg.
The rectus femoris muscle (rectus=straight) is the fourth muscle in the quadriceps group. Unlike the vasti muscles, it begins on the hip bones at the iliac crest and above the socket where the head of the femur sits (acetabulum) in the hip. Its fibers run straight down from the hip to the knee. The tendon of the rectus femoris joins the tendons from the three vastus muscles to attach to the patella. Together, the three vasti and the rectus femoris form the only real manner we have for extending the leg at the knee. The rectus femoris is much weaker when the hip is flexed (e.g., seated position such as doing leg extensions).
Three hamstring muscles sit on the posterior side of the thigh. The biceps femoris muscle has a long and a short head. The long head begins on the posterior part of the ischial bone of the hip. You literally sit on these bones when you’re in a chair. The short head of the biceps femoris begins along the lateral side of femur bone of the thigh. Both heads of the biceps femoris come together to attach to a single tendon that connects to the small lateral bone of the lower leg called the fibula.
The semitendinosus and semimembranosus muscles make up the medial (inside) hamstring muscles. The semitendinosus muscle attaches to the ischial bone of the hip and it becomes a cord-like tendon as it approaches the knee. The semimembranosus muscle is about half (“semi”) membrane (“membranous”) and half muscle. It begins on the ischial tuberosity with the semitendinosus; it crosses to the medial side of the knee to attach on the tibia bone of the lower leg.
The gluteus maximus muscle is the largest and thickest hip muscle and it contains the strongest and largest muscle fibers in the body. The upper attachment of the gluteus maximus is on the major bones of the hip and the lower attachment is on the posterior side of the femur bone of the thigh, below the hip joint. This muscle pulls the thigh posteriorly (backward) in an action described as thigh or hip extension.
Lunges aren’t for everyone. They can be tough on the knees, so you should carefully warm them up with stretches and some moderate biking before doing lunges. There are several ways to do lunges, but in this article we describe the tele-lunge. A telemark turn in skiing is the manner in which one performs a high-speed turn on free-heel skis. It’s done from a lunge position with the skis parallel and weight distributed on both legs, edging the skis into the turn. Even if you never hit the slopes, the adaptation of tele-lunges to your exercise routine will cut edges of unbelievable depths into your thighs.
1. Although the exercise can be done with a barbell, you will likely find it easier to control your balance and each lunge if you use dumbbells. Take a dumbbell in each hand and stand vertically. Your torso should remain vertical throughout the entire exercise (i.e., avoid leaning forward during the lunge step).
2. One leg will act as an anchor (e.g., the left leg). The other leg will lunge forward so you plant your foot in front of you as if you were taking a stride forward.
3. Take a short stride with the forward leg of only about two feet (this is a much shorter stride than most other versions of the lunge).
4. The knee on the front leg bends to 90 degrees so the thigh is parallel to the floor. At the same time as the knee from the lead leg is going forward, the thigh of the rear anchor leg remains vertical to the floor while the knee comes down to almost kiss the floor. Keep your back vertical to the floor and your head up during each repetition.
5. Alternate your step so the left leg is now lunged forward. Alternate between left and right legs as you lunge around the gym. Start with 25 repetitions each leg (50 total steps). If it’s a nice day, you might want to take your dumbbells out to the parking lot and lunge around the lot while catching a few rays.
If you’re interested in developing a power thrust for jumping or climbing, you should take a longer stride (usually around a three-foot stride length for most people). A deeper lunge and greater stride will provide a superior stretch and this will improve activation of all of the affected muscles. However, you must work into this slowly.
You should stretch your hamstrings, calves and quadriceps prior to beginning the exercise. Be careful you don’t bend forward from the waist during the lunge. If so, you’re likely using too much weight and/or your stride is too short. The musculature of your middle and lower back and calves will also be activated during lunges, so this will provide an added bonus for increasing your body’s metabolism to maximize your ripped-to-shreds training goals.
I can’t promise you that tele-lunges will quickly etch striations across your underpinnings, however, you’ll certainly see a radical difference to the power, shape and separations in your anterior thigh if you get serious about your lunges. By giving lunges a try for three months while you’re watching your calories, a whole new set of ropes, valleys and peaks will erupt in your lower quadriceps.
1. Babuccu, O., Gozil, R., Ozmen, S., Bahcelioglu, M., Latifoglu, O. and Celebi, M. C. (2002). Gluteal region morphology: the effect of the weight gain and aging. Aesthetic Plast Surg, 26, 130-133.
2. Bearne, L. M., Scott, D. L. and Hurley, M. V. (2002). Exercise can reverse quadriceps sensorimotor dysfunction that is associated with rheumatoid arthritis without exacerbating disease activity. Rheumatology, (Oxford) 41, 157-166.
3. Cronin, J., McNair, P. J., Marshall, R. N. (2003) Lunge performance and its determinants. J Sports Sci, 21, 49-57
4. Hefzy, M. S., al Khazim, M. and Harrison, L. (1997). Co-activation of the hamstrings and quadriceps during the lunge exercise. Biomed Sci Instrum, 33, 360-365.
5. McCarthy, J. P., Pozniak, M. A. and Agre, J. C. (2002). Neuromuscular adaptations to concurrent strength and endurance training. Med Sci Sports Exerc, 34, 511-519.
6. Pincivero, D. M., Aldworth, C., Dickerson, T., Petry, C. and Shultz, T. (2000). Quadriceps-hamstring EMG activity during functional, closed kinetic chain exercise to fatigue. Eur J Appl Physiol, 81, 504-509.
7. Stuart, M. J., Meglan, D. A., Lutz, G. E., Growney, E. S. and An, K. N. (1996). Comparison of intersegmental tibiofemoral joint forces and muscle activity during various closed kinetic chain exercises. Am J Sports Med, 24, 792-799.
The post Lower Body Leg Blast: Lunges for Thigh Separation appeared first on FitnessRX for Men.
By: Stephen E. Alway, Ph.D., FACSM
Title: Lower Body Leg Blast: Lunges for Thigh Separation
Sourced From: www.fitnessrxformen.com/training/lower-body-leg-blast-lunges-for-thigh-separation/
Published Date: Wed, 10 Nov 2021 20:11:56 +0000
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Ripped Leg Blast for Carved Thighs
Powerful and thick thighs require gut-busting exercises like squats and leg presses. However, once you have acquired adequate thigh mass and strength, you should consider adding some balance and sharpness to the muscle bellies in your thighs. Although tough to accomplish, leg extensions provide a great way to carve the separations between the muscle bellies, and to accentuate the “teardrop” shape of the four quadriceps muscles of the anterior thigh.
Active Muscles in Leg Extensions
The three vasti muscles comprise most of the anterior thigh.1 The vastus medialis covers the medial (inner) part of the femur bone (thigh bone). When it is well developed, it forms a teardrop-like shape over the medial side of the knee joint. The vastus lateralis muscle attaches to the lateral (outer) part of the femur bone. The vastus intermedius connects to the femur bone between the vastus lateralis and the vastus medialis muscles. The fibers of all three vasti muscles come together at the quadriceps tendon, which crosses the patella (kneecap) to attach to the tibia bone just below the knee.1
Together, the three vasti muscles extend the leg at the knee joint, although the vastus intermedius may be more fatigue resistant than the vastus lateralis.2 The vastus medialis oblique (VMO), which is a small part of the vastus medialis muscle, attaches to the medial part of the patella. It is thought to help the patella track properly during movement of the knee. Improper tracking can increase the likelihood for knee injury.
The vastus medialis and especially the VMO part of this muscle are primarily responsible for tibial rotation (rotation of the tibia bone of the lower leg on the femur) during knee extension. This rotation or “twist” has been shown to increase the activation of the VMO portion of the vastus lateralis even more than doing knee extensions with the hip adducted (thigh rotated so that the medial portion of the knee is facing mostly upwards).3 Dorsiflexion of the foot (moving the ankles so the toes are pointing towards your head) also increases the activation of the VMO by more than 20 percent.4 Likely this is because the dorsiflexor muscles stabilize the tibia during knee flexion and resist rotation of the tibia on the femur as the knee straightens.
The fourth muscle of the quadriceps group is the rectus femoris muscle. It attaches to the anterior part of the hip bone just above the hip joint.1 The largest bulk of the muscle fibers are located on the upper three-quarters of the thigh, whereas the largest belly of the vastus medialis and vastus lateralis are more inferior (i.e., closer to the knee). The distal end of the rectus femoris muscle becomes tendinous and it creates a deep valley between the lateral and medial vastus muscles as it approaches the knee.1 It assists the other quadriceps muscles by extending the leg at the knee joint, although it is less effective when the hip is flexed than if it is straight.
The three vastus muscles of the anterior thigh are strongly activated by single-leg knee extensions. The rectus femoris is not activated as strongly, but it does undergo some overload when the anterior thigh is under contractile effort, about halfway up to the top of each repetition.
1. You should always warm up your knees with some stationary cycling prior to getting into leg extensions. Furthermore, the resistance on your first set should be fairly light to allow the joint to fully warm up before you get to the heavier stuff.
2. Adjust the knee extension machine so that the pivot point of the lifting arm is directly adjacent to the center of the side of your knee joint.
3. Position the ankle roller/leg pad over the lower part of the leg (above the ankle joint).
4. Take about three seconds to slowly extend (straighten) both leg so that the weight is lifted upward from the stack.
5. Continue upwards until the tibia and the femur bones form a straight line and the knee angle is straight. Hold this for two seconds at the top.
6. Slowly lower the weight (about four seconds down) towards the starting position. Once the knee has reached 90 degrees, start the upwards extension phase again. Continue for 12-15 repetitions for the first set. Lower the number of repetitions but increase the resistance for subsequent sets.
7. On the next sets, lift the weight upwards until the knee joint becomes almost straight, but just slightly short of a total knee lockout. Be careful that you do not “jam” the knee joint into a fully locked out position, because this could cause knee cartilage damage5, especially with heavy weights. Hold the top position for a count of three before lowering the weight.
8. Lower the weight slowly (four to five seconds) towards the starting position where your knee is flexed to 90 degrees. Just before the weight stack contacts the remaining plates at the bottom, start lifting it upward for the next repetition.
The downward movement should be slower than the upward phase because you are resisting the pull of gravity. The slow lowering of the weight stretches the muscle under a resistance and this is a great stimulus to improve muscle shape and size.6
Make sure that you do not hold your breath during the lift upwards.7 Rather take a breath at the bottom (start) of the lift, and exhale as you extend the knees/legs. Take another breath at the top and slowly exhale as the weight is lowered. Take another breath at the bottom and repeat the sequence.
This is a mechanically simply exercise, but it really can be very challenging and blood depriving8,9, especially if you try to control the weight as it is moving up and down. However, if you are willing to work through some discomfort, you will be soon enjoying your new shape and slabs of carved thighs.
1. Moore K.L. Clinically Orientated Anatomy. Third Edition. Williams & Willkins, Baltimore, 1995; pp 373-500.
2. Watanabe K, Akima H. Neuromuscular activation of vastus intermedius muscle during fatiguing exercise. J Electromyogr Kinesiol 2010;20:661-666.
3. Stoutenberg M, Pluchino AP, Ma F et al. The impact of foot position on electromyographical activity of the superficial quadriceps muscles during leg extension. J Strength Cond Res 2005;19:931-938.
4. Coburn JW, Housh TJ, Cramer JT et al. Mechanomyographic and electromyographic responses of the vastus medialis muscle during isometric and concentric muscle actions. J Strength Cond Res 2005; 19:412-420.
5. Senter C, Hame SL. Biomechanical analysis of tibial torque and knee flexion angle: implications for understanding knee injury. Sports Med 2006;36:635-641.
6. Alway SE, Winchester PK, Davis ME et al. Regionalized adaptations and muscle fiber proliferation in stretch- induced enlargement. J Appl Physiol 1989;66:771-781.
7. Garber CE, Blissmer B, Deschenes MR et al. American College of Sports Medicine position stand. Quantity and quality of exercise for developing and maintaining cardiorespiratory, musculoskeletal, and neuromotor fitness in apparently healthy adults: guidance for prescribing exercise. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2011;43:1334-1359.
8. Denis R, Bringard A, Perrey S. Vastus lateralis oxygenation dynamics during maximal fatiguing concentric and eccentric isokinetic muscle actions. J Electromyogr Kinesiol 2011;21:276-282.
9. Ueda C, Kagaya A. Muscle reoxygenation difference between superficial and deep regions of the muscles during static knee extension. Adv Exp Med Biol 2010;662:329-334.
The post Ripped Leg Blast for Carved Thighs appeared first on FitnessRX for Men.
By: Stephen E. Alway, Ph.D., FACSM
Title: Ripped Leg Blast for Carved Thighs
Sourced From: www.fitnessrxformen.com/training/ripped-leg-blast-for-carved-thighs/
Published Date: Mon, 25 Jul 2022 19:11:16 +0000
Did you miss our previous article…
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The post PRIMAL Preworkout appeared first on FitnessRX for Men.
By: Team FitRx
Title: PRIMAL Preworkout
Sourced From: www.fitnessrxformen.com/nutrition/supplements/preworkout/primal-preworkout/
Published Date: Thu, 21 Jul 2022 16:51:41 +0000
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