KinX Learning Blog
An effective exercise to work the triceps, especially the long head in two actions, is the triceps kickback. Exercise Execution Assume a bent-over position so that your trunk is horizontal (parallel to the floor). Your feet should be flat on the floor in a stride or square stance and your knees should be slightly bent. Hold a dumbbell with a neutral grip and bend your arm so that your upper arm is alongside your body and your forearm hangs straight down or is slightly under your arm. Support your body with your free arm by placing your hand on a bench. When you are ready, inhale slightly more than usual and hold your breath as you extend your arm until it is straight. Keep your elbow in place as you move the hand with the weight backward and upward in an arc of a circle. After your arm is fully extended, continue the upward movement of the entire arm bringing it as high as possible. In the final position the dumbbell should be 30 to 45° above the level of your back. Your trunk should remain parallel to the floor throughout execution. Exhale and slowly return to the initial position, keeping the weight under control. Comments In correct execution you must maintain a stable bent-over position so that your back remains in the horizontal position. This is needed for safety and to ensure that the muscles work directly against gravity for maximum resistance. In their zeal to use heavier weights, many athletes and bodybuilders raise their shoulder to get the weight sufficiently up and back. This action uses the spinal rotational muscles and does not fully involve the long head of the triceps. The key is to keep your shoulders in place. Excessively heavy weights lead to a decreased range of motion and also limit your ability to fully extend your arm. This defeats the purpose of the exercise and when continued for a long time, can decrease your flexibility. In comparison to other triceps extension exercises, the triceps kickback is more difficult to execute. It requires more stability, coordination, and balance for effective execution. Therefore, before beginning this exercise you should be proficient in doing other triceps exercises. When executing the arm raise portion of this exercise, only the long head of the triceps is actively involved. At the same time, the medial and lateral heads as well as the lower end of the long head remain under isometric contraction to keep the elbow joint extended. As a result, you get a "double" contraction of the long head of the triceps with shortening of the tendons at both ends of the muscle together with the entire muscle. First the lower end shortens and remains contracted while the upper end contracts, providing you with maximal shortening of the tendons and muscle. This produces the strongest muscle contraction, which is the key to greater strength development. Many bodybuilders and athletes have a tendency to swing the weight so that they can raise it as high as possible. However, this defeats the purpose of the exercise. When you allow the weight to descend quickly at the beginning of the exercise and then continue on back and upward, inertia carries the weight for a great distance and your muscles do very little work except to guide the action. Because of this, it is important that you stop after your arm is straight and then raise your arm. You will feel a distinct difference when execution is done in this manner.
Almost everyone has done push-ups at one time or another when in school. They are often used as a test of fitness, training for shoulder girdle and arm strength. However, how you execute the push-up dictates the muscle development that you receive. Variant 1: Elbows out The anterior deltoid, pectoralis major, and coracobrachialis are involved in horizontal adduction in the shoulder joint. In this action the upper arms move from a position in line with the shoulders to a vertical position under the shoulders. In the shoulder girdle, there is scapula abduction performed by the pectoralis minor and the serratus anterior. In the elbow joint there is extension performed by the triceps brachii. In scapula abduction the scapulae move out to the sides of the body from a position alongside the spine. In elbow extension the arm straightens as the upper arm moves away from the forearm. Variant 2: Elbows in close to the sides In the shoulder joint the anterior deltoid and the upper pectoralis major are involved in shoulder joint flexion and upward rotation of the scapula. In this action the right scapula rotates counterclockwise and the left clockwise when viewed from the rear. At the same time the scapulae move out away from the spine toward the sides of the body. In the elbow joint there is extension, in which the arms straighten as the upper arms move away from the forearms.
Breathing plays an important role not only in exercise, but in relaxation. When your respiratory muscles are strong, you are capable of taking in and processing more air per breath. As a result, you can get greater amounts of oxygen, which the body needs not only for the production of energy but to help in your recovery. The stronger your respiratory muscles are, the more effective is your cardiovascular endurance. By improving the strength of the muscles involved in breathing, you will be able to prevent not only the onset of fatigue but to recover faster. Keep in mind that respiratory fatigue occurs before cardiovascular fatigue. Thus your breathing is directly related to your endurance as well as to your lifting. When you do your strength exercises, how you breathe is very important. Because of this, you should develop proper breathing patterns from the start. This also applies to execution of your sports skills. In this book the instructions for the exercises tell you to inhale and hold your breath on exertion - that is, on the hardest part of the exercise when you are overcoming resistance. You then exhale on the return, staying in control of the movements. But don’t be surprised if you read or hear the opposite from other sources—that you should exhale on exertion and inhale on the return. But this widely used recommendation to exhale on exertion is based on theory, not research or actual practice. In addition, it applies mainly to people with heart and circulatory system problems. For example, if you hold your breath too long in a maximal resistance exercise (up to eight seconds) you could pass out. This is because the internal pressure in the chest and abdomen increases when you hold your breath on exertion. If it increases greatly, it squeezes down on the blood vessels shuttling blood and oxygen to and from the heart. When this happens, you may black out (but rarely, and only on maximum exertion with the breath held too long. If you are without cardiovascular problems and you do not hold your breath for more than a few seconds as needed in the recommended exercises, the breath-holding on exertion is perfectly safe. It makes the exercises safer and more effective. If you have high blood pressure or other circulatory system or heart problems, avoid heavy resistance training and breath-holding. In fact, you probably should not participate in a strength or explosive sport which requires not only great physical exertion but intense breath holding. Inhaling and holding the breath briefly on exertion—any exertion, in execution of a strength exercise or in sports, comes naturally. Many studies have shown that whenever athletic skills are executed properly, athletes hold their breath on the exertion—during the power phase when maximum force is generated. The breathholding is important for generating greater force, having more accuracy and control and for the prevention of injury. For example, Inhaling and holding the breath on exertion provides up to 20 percent greater force, stabilizes the spine, and helps prevents lower back injuries. It transforms the trunk (and sometimes the whole body) into a stable unit against which your hips, shoulders, and arms can move more effectively. Breathing exercises can also help you relax. For example, it is not uncommon to read that you should inhale and then exhale before starting a race, game or skill execution. This is a good technique to help you relax. But before starting, it is important that the muscles have some tension—not excessive tension, but sufficient tension to take-off with power. This is why you should never completely exhale before starting. Hold slightly more than your usual breath. Thus, inhalation and breath-holding are needed immediately before and during execution of the key actions. Studies done with devices to monitor breathing patterns have proven this beyond any doubt. To execute a powerful lift or execute a powerful sports skill, you must hold your breath during execution. In effective breathing, do not take a maximal breath and then hold it. Holding a maximal breath can make you very uncomfortable. Just take a slightly greater than usual breath and then hold it to experience the positive benefits. This is especially important for stabilizing the body, holding the spine in position, and getting greater power in execution of the skill. The breath holding time is very short. Thus, you should have no fear of holding the breath too long or of overexerting yourself. Exhalation, especially after a deep breath, is very beneficial for relaxation. Thus, anytime you exhale during execution of a maximal lift, you are telling the muscles to relax rather than to remain under contraction to accomplish the work that has to be done. The exhalation weakens your body greatly and can lead to injury. Some exhalation during a lift can be of benefit. For example, if you are doing a very heavy squat, or handling great weight in a squat, and you are coming up out of the down position very slowly, the amount of pressure being built up is quite great. To relieve some of this pressure, exhale slightly through pursed lips to relieve some of the pressure. However, do not let all the air out until you have passed the sticking point, or most difficult part of the up phase. Exhaling after you have passed the most difficult part of the lift is also very important for relieving the built up thoracic and abdominal pressure. The key is to be sure that you exhale after passing the sticking point, not before. Too often exhalation at this time is taken to indicate exhalation on exertion, but it is after the exertion, not during. Keep in mind that proper breathing is essential to successful execution of strength exercises, especially when handling heavy weights. Breath holding on exertion is a natural consequence. If no one told you how to breathe, you would automatically hold your breath when lifting a heavy weight. You also hold your breath when receiving an object coming at you, as for example when someone is throwing a medicine ball or even a punch. You need the breath-holding to stabilize the body, to better withstand the force or the blow that you are about to receive. If you still believe that you should exhale on the exertion, then you can prove to yourself that this does not happen naturally. Watch a person lifting maximal weights or what an athlete does when he catches a medicine ball thrown to him. You will see that he or she automatically inhales and holds the breath as they prepare for the lift or the catch. Also, try to find a research study that can substantiate your belief that exhalation occurs on exertion. I assure you that you will not find any. You may see authors theorize that this should occur but they never actually prove it. When you do find literature or studies recommending exhalation on exertion, you'll see that they deal with people who have heart or circulatory problems. You will not find any dealing with healthy individuals, especially athletes. Thus, you should not be duped by this myth that has been perpetuated in the fitness and sports fields. Be more in tune with nature and do what your body does naturally. Your workouts will be much more effective and safer.
The supinator muscle is an important muscle located in the forearm that plays a crucial role in hand and forearm movement. It runs from the lateral epicondyle of the humerus (upper arm bone) to the proximal radius (one of the two forearm bones).The primary function of the supinator muscle is to supinate the forearm, which means it helps in turning the palm of the hand upward or facing anteriorly. This motion is essential for various everyday activities such as pouring a drink, using a screwdriver, turning a doorknob, or using a key to unlock a door. It allows for a more versatile and precise manipulation of objects.The supinator muscle also works in coordination with other muscles of the forearm, such as the biceps brachii and brachioradialis, to provide stability and control during movements involving the elbow and wrist joints. These muscles work together to ensure smooth and coordinated actions, enabling us to perform a wide range of manual tasks.Furthermore, the supinator muscle helps to maintain the integrity of the wrist and hand position during activities that require grip strength. It provides support to the radial collateral ligament of the elbow joint, helping to stabilize the joint and prevent excessive strain during movement.In summary, the supinator muscle plays a vital role in forearm and hand function by enabling supination of the forearm, providing stability during movements involving the elbow and wrist joints, and supporting grip strength. Its proper functioning is crucial for performing various daily activities and maintaining overall upper limb dexterity.
Kinesthesis is the ability to perceive your position and movement of the body and/or limbs in space. Kinesthesis relies on the use of various receptors in the joints, muscles and tendons. For example, the muscle spindle that lies in parallel with the muscle fibers is activated when the muscle is stretched during an eccentric contraction (This is known as the stretch reflex). The Golgi tendon organs are other receptors located at the junction of the tendon and the muscle. They respond to the amount of stretch taking place in the tendon and the muscle. It is important to understand that when a muscle stretches, the tendon also undergoes stretching. It is very elastic tissue and can withstand great tension. When activated, the Golgi tendon organs trigger the antagonistic muscle groups to stop the movement and to inhibit the agonist muscle contraction. This is done to avoid possible injury to the muscle-tendon complex. Because of their actions, it is much easier to fully stretch a muscle when the Golgi tendon organs are shut down. There are also receptors located in the joint capsules and in the ligaments that relay information to the brain. This includes a change in position, speed of movement, or the acceleration of the limbs that occur at the joints. These receptors are very sensitive and fire when there is a small change (up to two degrees) in joint position. There are also many pressure receptors that are very active in posture. When there is any deviation in position, they are fired so that a correction can be made to bring you back into the normal position.
All exercises involve levers created by the body limbs or body itself. The potential force of the levers is created by the length of the limbs and/or body and where the resistance and muscular force is applied. There are three major classes of levers in the body: first, second and third. First Class The first class lever is similar to the see-saw in that it has its fulcrum or balance point between the force and the resistance. When you sit on one end you apply a downward resistance on one side of the fulcrum. To raise yourself, a downward force must be applied on the other side. For example, if someone else sits on the opposite side another downward resistance is brought into play. If the weights are equal and the distance from the fulcrum is equal, you will be in balance with no movement occurring. In order to get movement, you will have to make your body “heavier” by creating more force or some momentum to place the see-saw into motion. The most common exercise that uses the first class lever is the heel raise. The axis is in the middle of the ankle joint while the force is the pull of the Achilles tendon behind it and the resistance is against the ball of the foot in front. In this case the first class lever does not produce a great amount of force. It is best suited for a maximum range of motion and speed of movement. Second Class The second class lever is one in which the weight (resistance) is distributed between the axis of rotation and the application of force. It is most suited for a gain in force and is easily visualized by imagining a wheelbarrow. The axis is the wheel, the weight is in the bucket located in the middle and the force is your arms pulling the handles upward. The best weight training exercise to describe this lever is the push-up. In this case the axis is the balls of the feet in contact with the floor, the weight is the center of gravity of your mass, and the force is in the arms, pushing you upward. Third Class In the third class lever the force is applied between the axis and the resistance. This is the most common type of lever found in the body. For example, in the biceps curl, the biceps inserts approximately one inch below the elbow joint. The point of attachment is known as the point of application of force. The elbow is the axis of rotation, the resistance is the forearm, and the weights held in the hand. Thus the distance from the point of application of force to the axis is very short (the force arm) and mechanically inefficient. The key reason for this is that the resistance arm, the distance from the axis to where the weight is located, is quite long. This places the weight far from the application of force. A short force arm and a long resistance arm is most advantageous for speed, not for the production of force. In the case of speed, a short contraction of the muscle can move the end of the limb (hand) a great distance even though there is very little movement at the actual insertion of the muscle on the bone. This relationship is also advantageous for ROM. The speed advantage of the third class lever system is most important in sports, not when lifting weights. Individuals with short limbs have an advantage in lifting heavier weights because of their shorter resistance arms. There are, however, exceptions to this; in the deadlift for example, longer arms allow you to raise the weight less distance.
Only one major muscle is involved in elbow joint extension - the triceps brachii, which is a large muscle that covers the entire back side of the upper arm. It is divided into three sections, known as the lateral (outer) head, medial (middle) head, and long (inner) head. The lateral head originates on the back of the humerus from the middle of the shaft to almost the very top. The medial head originates on the lower portion of the back of the humerus over a wide space extending nearly two-thirds of the length of the bone. The long head of the triceps originates on the scapula just below the shoulder joint. All three heads come together into a common tendon which inserts on the olecranon process of the ulna. It should be noted that the olecranon process extends beyond the elbow joint and prevents excessive hyperextension. To work all portions of the triceps muscle maximally, increasingly heavy weights must be used. For example, when light or moderately heavy weights are used, only the medial head of the triceps goes into action. As the resistance increases, the lateral head joins in, and when sufficiently heavy weights are used, the long head goes into contraction. Because the radius also articulates with the humerus it can also be considered part of the elbow. The annular ligament which encircles the head of the radius and attaches to the ulna, allows the radius to rotate around the ulna on a longitudinal axis of the forearm to provide for pronation and supination. The only movements possible at the elbow joint are flexion and extension.
The lat pull-down is a very effective exercise that is used for developing the upper latissimus dorsi to create "wings." The typical lat pull-down exercise has traditionally utilized a wide pronated grip. Today, however, many bodybuilders also use a narrow grip. When the exercise is done in this manner, different portions of the latissimus are worked together with other secondary muscles. So, for full development of the latissimus and for different stress on the other major muscles involved, it is important that you do both wide grip and narrow grip variants. You can do this by using different bar attachments or by using a lat pulldown machine or bar, with which you can execute both variants. Analysis Because the entire latissimus dorsi is not involved in any one exercise, it is important that you do these two variants to develop this muscle fully. Development of the upper part of the latissimus dorsi will give you wings. Development of the lower part will give you greater definition on the sides of your lower back. However, it is important to have an adjustable seat for proper positioning when you are grasping the bar. Also, the machine should have the different grips, handles or bars to work the muscle completely. The recommendation to pull the bar down in front of the body is relatively recent. For years everyone was told to pull the bar down behind the head until it touched the shoulders. However, most individuals do not have the shoulder joint flexibility needed to do this variant correctly and effectively. As a result they were not getting maximum benefit from this exercise and in some cases were irritating the shoulder joint because of the unaccustomed to extreme backward positioning of the elbows. Some individuals were also bruising the seventh cervical vertebra. Thus it is now recommended to pull down in front which still produces the same, if not better, results. When you are using the wide grip, the exercise may feel easy in the upper range and difficult as the bar approaches your shoulders. If you experience this, it means that you are strong in the initial range of motion and weak in the bottom range. Therefore, when you use machines that do not have variable resistance, especially those with weight stacks, the exercise feels difficult in the early stages and even more so in the bottom position. To counteract this and to strengthen the muscles more effectively in the upper or lower range of motion, you can increase the resistance initially and work only the upper range. Or, you can do the exercise as usual so that it taxes mainly the lower range. When you use the narrow grip, it is important to keep your body erect so that you can more effectively work the lower lat in the upper range of motion. If you lean back, as many people do, you will be working only the lower range of motion. Thus, if you are looking for total development, it is a good idea to do both variants of the exercise with your trunk erect and also with your trunk inclined backward. However, when doing the pull-down with your body inclined backward, be sure to pull the bar down sufficiently so that your elbows go behind your body. You will notice that when you do this, the action is similar to that used in the seated row with a neutral grip. Using a seat with a padded bar that goes over your thighs to hold you down is very important for execution of the lat pull-down. If the bar too secure your body is not available, then you will find your body rising up as you execute the pulldown when you use weights that are close to or greater than your body weight. Also, it is very important that the seat be adjusted so that your arms are maximally extended when you grab the bar. If you have to reach too high for the bar, it will be very difficult to keep your legs secured at the same time. An effective variant of the lat pull-down is the narrow grip pull-down, especially when done with a neutral grip. This version is analogous to the neutral grip pullup. In this exercise you get additional assistance from the posterior deltoid and the long head of the triceps. When you use the wide grip for shoulder adduction, the assisting muscles are the coracobrachialis, subscapularis (when your arm is above the horizontal), short head of the biceps, and long head of the triceps. To execute the lat pull-down successfully, the scapulae must rotate downward as shoulder joint adduction takes place. If the shoulder girdle muscles are not strong enough to rotate the scapulae downward, the arms will not be able to move down and the amount of shoulder adduction or extension is limited considerably. Also, there is a very good chance of injury to the muscles involved.
In the pronated wide grip variant, the upper latissimus dorsi, the teres major, and the lower pectoralis major muscles are involved in shoulder joint adduction. In this action your arms are pulled down in a side (lateral) plane until your upper arm is below shoulder level. In the shoulder girdle, downward rotation of the scapulae is performed by the rhomboid and pectoralis minor muscles. In this action the right scapula rotates clockwise and the left counterclockwise (when viewed from the rear). In the narrow neutral grip variant, the lower latissimus dorsi, the lower pectoralis major, and the teres major are involved in shoulder joint extension. In this action the arms move from in front of the body down to the sides of the trunk. This action is perpendicular to the lateral plane of movement as seen in the wide grip variant. In the shoulder girdle the rhomboid, the pectoralis minor, and the middle trapezius are the major muscles involved in downward rotation and adduction of the scapulae. In this action the muscles pull the scapulae in toward the spine and at the same time rotate the right scapula clockwise and the left counterclockwise when viewed from the rear.