The body is a fine tuned piece of machinery.
As soon as we throw it out of balance, its function is weakened.
- Strength training can generate great strength increases throughout the body.
- Flexibility will generate mobility and help you to move efficiently.
The problems occur when your strength program does not workout your muscle and strength development evenly. Or when every day work and life habits are not balanced with a strength and flexibility program to reverse and balance out your body.
Programming for strength should include:
- 1x Lower body strength exercise
- 1x Upper body pull exercise
- 1x Upper body push exercise
The reason for this is that good functional lower body strength exercises like squats and dead lifts work the lower body muscles entirely. Squats below parallel engage the hamstrings, glutes, quads and hip flexors. Dead lifts are majorly hamstring, glutes and hip flexors. In daily life we tend to become quad dominant. This means that our quads become too strong for our hamstrings. So a dead lift in your lower body exercise program will balance out that over developed quad strength working more on hamstring strength.
Problems that come with over developed quads:
- When contracting the quad can be so strong that it forces the leg to extend beyond the hamstrings Range of movement causing hamstring tear and injury.
- Quad dominance will pull the pelvis forward causing anterior pelvic tilt and increasing the curve in the lower back and essentially increasing the pressure on the spine
- Increased pressure on patella or knee
So pick these two exercises in your strength programs regularly.
Developing good lower body flexibility is equally important for lengthening muscles and tendons and having good posture.
Upper body Pull exercises generate strength development in the muscles of the back that open up the chest. Pull exercises are great for strengthening the lats, traps and shoulder and biceps.
Pull exercises include:
- Lat pulldown
- Seated row
- Chin up
- Horizontal pull ups
- Rope climbs
- Tug of war etc.
Upper body push exercises generate great strength in the front shoulder muscles, the chest and triceps. These exercises include but are not limited to:
- Bench press
- Push ups
- Shoulder press
- Handstand push up
Common upper body strength imbalances
- Tight or over developed pecs or chest muscles, causing rounded shoulders.
- Weak lower traps or the the muscles you use to squeeze shoulder blades in and down. Weakness in the lower traps causes shoulders to hang be up towards ears causing neck pain and tightness in upper traps.
Combine your strength programs with flexibility to increase the range of your muscles. Add in some extra core stabilising exercises and you have a complete strength program.