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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.

Leg Extensions

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.

GettyImages 674163248 600

References:

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.

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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

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Mens Health

The Future of Men’s Mental Health

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Part 1 — Men and Mental Health, What Are We Missing?

I have been interested in men’s mental, emotional, and relational health for a long time. When I was five years old my mid-life father became increasingly irritable, angry, and depressed because he felt he couldn’t support our family, my mother and me, doing the work he loved. In desperation he took an overdose of sleeping pills to stop the pain. Fortunately, he didn’t die, but our lives were never the same. He was committed to Camarillo State Mental Hospital.

My father had been an actor in New York and moved to California with the hopes of working in the emerging movie and television industry. But like many creative artists of the period he ran into the “red scare,” was blacklisted, and couldn’t find work. His time in the mental hospital only made him worse. I grew up wondering what happened to my father, when it would happen to me, and how I could prevent it from happening to other families.

After graduating from college I was accepted into U.C. San Francisco Medical School with hopes of becoming a psychiatrist. I hoped to learn and develop the skills to help men like my father as well as the families who love them. However, medicine, at the time, was too restrictive for me and I transferred to U.C. Berkeley where I earned my Master of Social Work Degree. My initial interest focused on addiction medicine, but I soon expanded my work to include Gender-Specific Medicine and men’s health. I later returned to school and earned a PhD in International Health. My dissertation research was published as a book: Male vs. Female Depression: Why Men Act Out and Women Act In.

Following the birth of our first son, Jemal, in 1969 and daughter, Angela, in 1972, I launched MenAlive.com as my window to the world to house my books, articles, and on-line programs. I’ve had seventeen books published including international best-sellers Male Menopause and The Irritable Male Syndrome: Understanding and Managing the 4 Key Causes of Depression and Aggression, as well as trend-setting books including Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places: Overcoming Romantic and Sexual Addictions, The Warrior’s Journey Home: Healing Men, Healing the Planet, Stress Relief for Men, and Long Live Men! The Moonshot Mission to Heal Men, Close the Lifespan Gap, and Offer Hope to Humanity.

The field of gender-specific healing and men’s mental health has grown considerably since I began in 1972. I estimate that there are now at least a thousand organizations that focus on various aspects of men’s health. In 2021, I invited several colleagues who were doing great work to join me in what I called my Moonshot Mission for Mankind and Humanity. We began meeting monthly to get to know each other, share ideas, and create an on-line hub to bring individuals and organizations together to help men live fully healthy lives.

            With the help and support of one of our founding members, Joe Conrad, Founder and CEO of Man Therapy, we developed a website and introductory film at MoonshotforMankind.com.  I believe that men are both the “canaries in the coalmine” alerting us to the problems faced by humanity and also they are the key players in solving the problems that undermine the health of all. The Moonshot site shares our vision and call to connect:

“The journey to heal humanity has begun.”

Our Moonshot vision can be summarized simply:

“We believe man’s mental, emotional, and relational health is the key to empowering men to live long and well. Our mission is to help men live healthier, happier, more cooperative lives—fulfilling lives of purpose and productivity, where men are supported and valued as they make positive contributions to their families, friends, and communities. When that happens, families grow stronger, communities prosper, and humanity takes its next leap forward.”

Men and Mental Health: What Are We Missing?

            According to report by Derek M. Griffith, PhD, Ayo Ogunbiyi, MPH, and Emily Jaeger, MPH at Georgetown University’s Center for Men’s Health Equity,

Men aren’t the problem. The way that we — society as a whole and health care providers specifically — treat them is.”

In an April 2, 2024 article titled “Men and mental health: What are we missing?,” they detail a number of important issues that we often fail to address including the following:

  • It is time that primary care physicians, mental health service providers, and policymakers look critically at the accuracy and utility of their assumptions and explanations for men’s rates of depression, anxiety, burnout, substance abuse, and other common mental health conditions.
  • 40% of men with a reported mental illness received mental health care services in the past year, compared with 52% of women with a reported mental illness, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated the crisis of men’s mental health.
  • The uncertainty of the pandemic, loneliness from social distancing, financial stresses, relationship challenges, and other contextual factors contributed to increased rates of men having difficulty sleeping, alcohol and substance use, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms.
  • Traditionally, men are socialized to define their worth by their ability to contribute economically to a household. However, as the labor market has shifted away from traditionally male-dominated jobs, men must now redefine their worth outside of their employment, income, and home.
  • The notion of “precarious manhood,” which is the belief that manhood is an achieved social status that must be earned and constantly defended, means that men may feel it is their character — rather than their behavior — being judged during more tumultuous economic times.
  • Even when men seek care, that care often falls short. Data from Canada and the United States found that more than 60% of men who died by suicide had accessed mental health care services within the previous year.
  • When men do seek mental health care services, it is not uncommon for them to feel that providers mislabel and underestimate their needs, and that these providers do not seem to have a genuine interest in their problems.
  • The fact that men are diagnosed with depression at lower rates than women, despite their higher rates of suicide, substance use, and violent behavior, suggests that more could be done to improve the tools used to diagnose men with depression.
  • While some mental health care service providers may be gender sensitive and recognize the ways that aggressiveness, alcohol use, and risky behavior are part of the presenting symptoms men with depression may exhibit, there are few courses and trainings that focus on gender differences in mental health, potentially leading to mental health care service providers being less equipped to serve and offer gender-sensitive resources to men.

We need a new approach for addressing men’s mental health issues. In the second part of this series, I will address the reality that men’s mental health issues don’t just impact men. They impact everyone. If you’d like to read more articles like these, please visit me at MenAlive.com and receive our free newsletter with new articles and tools you can use to improve your mental, emotional, and relational health.

The post The Future of Men’s Mental Health appeared first on MenAlive.

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By: Jed Diamond
Title: The Future of Men’s Mental Health
Sourced From: menalive.com/the-future-of-mens-mental-health/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=the-future-of-mens-mental-health
Published Date: Wed, 17 Apr 2024 23:33:29 +0000

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Mens Health

Podcast #983: Grid-Down Medicine — A Guide for When Help Is NOT on the Way

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If you read most first aid guides, the last step in treating someone who’s gotten injured or sick is always: get the victim to professional medical help.

But what if you found yourself in a situation where hospitals were overcrowded, inaccessible, or non-functional? What if you found yourself in a grid-down, long-term disaster, and you were the highest medical resource available?

Dr. Joe Alton is an expert in what would come after the step where most first aid guides leave off. He’s a retired surgeon and the co-author of The Survival Medicine Handbook: The Essential Guide for When Help is NOT on the Way. Today on the show, Joe argues that every family should have a medical asset and how to prepare to be a civilian medic. We discuss the different levels of first aid kits to consider creating, from an individual kit all the way up to a community field hospital. And we talk about the health-related skills you might need in a long-term grid-down disaster, from burying a dead body, to closing a wound with super glue, to making an improvised dental filling, to even protecting yourself from the radiation of nuclear fallout.

Resources Related to the Podcast

  • AoM Article: How to Use a Tourniquet to Control Major Bleeding
  • AoM Article: The Complete Guide to Making a DIY First Aid Kit
  • AoM Article: How to Suture a Wound
  • AoM Article: What Every Man Should Keep in His Car
  • AoM Article: Improvised Ways to Close a Wound
  • AoM Podcast #869: The Survival Myths That Can Get You Killed With Alone Winner Jim Baird

Connect With Joe Alton

  • Doom and Bloom website
  • Doom and Bloom on YouTube
  • Doom and Bloom on FB

Cover of "the survival medicine handbook," featuring a red first aid kit on a road under a stormy sky, by Joseph Alton MD and Amy Alton APRN.

Listen to the Podcast! (And don’t forget to leave us a review!)

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Title: Podcast #983: Grid-Down Medicine — A Guide for When Help Is NOT on the Way
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Published Date: Wed, 17 Apr 2024 12:37:37 +0000

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Mens Health

How to Become Successful at the Three Essential Marriages for Achieving a Great Life

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“Human beings are creatures of belonging which we achieve through three marriages. First, through relationship with other people and other things (particularly and very personally, to one other person in relationship or marriage); second, through work; and third, through an understanding of what it means to be themselves.” David Whyte, The Three Marriages: Reimaging Work, Self and Relationship.

For more than fifty years I have helped people achieve success in all three kinds of relationships. Like many I married young. My wife and I were together for ten years and had two children before our marriage broke up. After a time of pain and healing, I fell in love again, and remarried. Looking back, I can see that one was a rebound relationship and it too ended.

Endings are painful for everyone, but when you’re a marriage and family counselor who makes his living helping fix relationships, it is not only painful, but shameful as well. I talk about it on my website, MenAlive.com in an introductory video, “Confessions of a Twice-Divorced Marriage Counselor.” Fortunately, I got my own help, worked through unhealed trauma from my past, and learned what it truly takes to have a successful marriage. My wife, Carlin, and I have been happily married for forty-four years.

            We all want a life that is happy and joyful, but how to achieve success is not often clear and easy.

“If you have to make one life choice, right now, to set yourself on the path to future health and happiness, what would it be?”

This question was asked by two world-renowned social scientists, Robert Waldinger, MD and Marc Schulz, PhD.

Dr. Waldinger is professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and director of the Harvard Study on Adult Development. Dr. Schultz is the associate director. The Harvard Study is the longest scientific study of happiness ever conducted. It began in 1938 and offers the most scientifically supported guidance for achieving a great life.

The latest findings are reported in Waldinger’s and Schulz’s book, The Good Life: Lessons From The World’s Longest Scientific Study of Happiness. In a 2007 survey, millennials were asked about their most important life goals. Seventy-six percent said that becoming rich was their number one goal. Fifty percent said a major goal was to become famous. More than a decade later, after millennials had spent more time as adults, similar questions were asked again. Fame was now lower on the list, but top goals again included things like making money, having a successful career, and becoming debt-free.

            What does the data from thousands of interviews over eighty-six years tell us? If we want a great life what is the one thing that is more important than others? The answer can be stated in three simple words: Create Good Relationships.

“In fact, good relationships are significant enough that if we had to take all eighty-six years of the Harvard Study,”

say Drs. Waldinger and Schulz,

“and boil it down to a single principle for living, one life investment that is supported by similar findings across a wide variety of other studies, it would be this:

Good Relationships keep us healthier and happier. Period.”

The Three Marriages We Must Embrace to Have a Successful Life

            In his book The Three Marriages: Reimaging Work, Self and Relationship, David Whyte says,

“Despite our use of the word “marriage” only for a committed relationship between two people, “in reality everyone is committed consciously or unconsciously to three marriages.”

            Whyte goes on to say,

“There is that first marriage, the one we usually mean, to another; that second marriage, which can so often seem like a burden, to work or vocation; and that third and most likely hidden marriage to a core conversation inside ourselves. We can call these three separate commitments marriages because at their core they are usually lifelong commitments and, as I wish to illustrate, they involve vows made either consciously or unconsciously.”

For most of my life I tried to find a balance between my work life and my love life. The truth is that I was much better at work than I was at love. It is not surprising. I had my first job when I was seven years old. My father had left when I was five, committed to a mental hospital after taking an overdose of sleeping pills because he had become increasingly stressed and depressed because he couldn’t make a living to support my mother and me.

With my father gone, my mother had to find work outside the home. We had little money beyond what was needed for the essentials, so I learned early to work for anything I truly wanted. I got good at work, but like many who grew up without a father and mother at home, what I learned about having a healthy and happy married life was minimal and I was too busy hustling for my next job success to have time to wonder about what it meant to get to know my true self.

For too many of us we feel like we are going up and down on a teeter-totter with our work and love lives competing for our attention while our personhood often gets neglected and forgotten. David Whyte offers us all a great service when he suggests this basic reality:

“Each of those marriages, is at its heart, nonnegotiable. We should give up the attempt to balance one against another, of, for instance, taking away from work to give more time to a partner, or vice versa, and start thinking of each marriage conversing with, questioning, or emboldening the other two.”

            With the framework of the three marriages, we can ask ourselves where we might need improvement. Here’s a little scale I find useful.

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How would you rate yourself in all five areas? I feel successful in all five areas, but it has been a lifelong process of healing and learning. I still have a way to go yet, like all of us. My score was 24. How about yours?

Bringing It All Together

For me, I have come to see achieving success at the three marriages as a true hero’s journey, one that lasts a lifetime. My wife, Carlin, is part Native American. In our area, there are several women who weave beautiful baskets made out of local materials that grow in nature. A well-known basket weaver described a well-made basket as a metaphor for creating a great life.

            Here’s how she describes the process.

“Our life is a basket woven from many different strands, each essential for a strong container. Each part of our life is one strand in this basket.It’s impossible to weave multiple strands at the same time; we need to attend to the strand that requires our attention without losing awareness of the others. Every strand will get our attention—just not all at the same time. I know I give attention to where I am most needed, knowing that I will then move on to the next demand. The basket holds my life as I strengthen individual strands. I’m no longer on a teeter-totter—I am weaving my life into something whole and lovely.”

When I reflect on my own life, there are times when I must focus on my wife, Carlin, knowing that there are other parts of my life that will require my attention at another time. At other times, one of our five children or seventeen grandchildren all for my attention. Yet, I can’t ever forget my work and my commitment to my calling. Running through all these “strands of my basket” is my commitment to my deepest self, getting to know who I really am and learning to love the man I am with all my flaws as well as my gifts.

I have written about how I have integrated these strands in the books I have written. If you are interested in learning about me and my work, I recommend, Inside Out: Becoming My Own Man, 12 Rules for Good Men, and Long Live Men: The Moonshot Mission to Heal Men, Close the Lifespan Gap, and Offer Hope for Humanity.

If you want to learn more about me and my relationship life, I recommend The Enlightened Marriage: The 5 Transformative Stages of Relationship and Why the Best is Still to Come, My Distant Dad: Healing the Family Father Wound, and Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places: Overcoming Romantic and Sexual Addictions.

If you would like to take one of my on-line courses, I recommend:

Navigating the 5 Stages of Love.

Healing the Irritable Male Syndrome.

Healing the Family Father Wound.

If you would like to join our mission to improve the lives of men and their families, I recommend:

The Moonshot for Mankind and Humanity.

If you would like to do individual or couple counseling with me, drop me a note at Jed@MenAlive.com and put “Counseling” in the subject line. I will send you the information. If you would like to receive my free weekly newsletter with updates and new articles, you can sign up here.

The post How to Become Successful at the Three Essential Marriages for Achieving a Great Life appeared first on MenAlive.

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By: Jed Diamond
Title: How to Become Successful at the Three Essential Marriages for Achieving a Great Life
Sourced From: menalive.com/how-to-become-successful-at-the-three-essential-marriages/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=how-to-become-successful-at-the-three-essential-marriages
Published Date: Thu, 11 Apr 2024 20:02:04 +0000

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