The Elbow Joint - Anatomy and Basic Movements

The elbow joint is a hinge joint formed by the junction of the humerus and the radius and ulna bones of the lower arm. Strong ligaments hold the joint together in addition to the muscles and tendons. There is also movement between the radius and ulna bones, which allows for pronation and supination of the forearm. In flexion the forearm moves toward the upper arm or vice versa. In extension the forearm moves away from the upper arm in an arm-straightening action. The reverse action, in which the upper arm moves away from the forearm, is also possible. This is seen in the lowering phase of a pull-up or chinup.

4 Tips on the Seated Heel Raise Exercise

#1 - The soleus muscle is capable of great muscular endurance. This is seen when the action is  repeated for a period of time or when the contraction is held for several or more seconds. Because of  this, for greater development you should do some holding in the top position or any intermediate  position. This allows you to develop strength at any point or over the full range of motion. #2 - The seated calf raise is an excellent exercise for development of the soleus muscle. Because it is a  very strong muscle, you can use great resistance. Keep in mind that the soleus together with the  gastrocnemius can exert over 1,000 pounds of force. However, that does not mean that you can raise  this amount, because other factors are involved.  Thus, you should not start with extremely heavy weights: Start slowly and gradually increase the  amount of resistance that you use. Keep in mind that a maximum range of motion is very important for  full development of the muscle tendon complex. #3 - To develop some of the assisting muscles and to bring in some other foot actions, you should  change foot positions. For example, point your toes inward and then rise up. This positioning will force  some inversion and produce more development of the tibialis posterior (along with the muscles used  in ankle joint extension). #4 - Pointing your toes outward and then doing toe raises will use foot eversion and the muscles  involved (the peroneal and the extensor digitorum longus muscles located on the lateral sides of the  lower legs). Placing your feet slightly wider apart or closer together will also produce greater all-around  development.

2 Tips on the Bent-over Dumbbell Row Exercise

The bent-over dumbbell row with both the neutral and pronated grips is a good substitute for the seated row for developing almost all of the back musculature. In this exercise you do not have to contend with the upper body moving forward and back. Here are 2 important comments regarding this exercise. #1 - It is important that your body be kept stationary during execution of this exercise. To ensure this, shift most of your weight to the support arm to stabilize your body. Because of the extra support, this exercise is usually preferred to the seated row, free standing row, bent-over row, or T-bar row. Also, because you use less weight, there is less stress on your spine, which makes this exercise safer. #2 - The key to effective execution is to maintain a stable body and to pull the arm through the full range of motion so that the elbow goes above the level of the back. To ensure proper and effective execution do not use heavy weights that do not allow for the full ROM or make it possible to execute the same actions in the same neuromuscular pathway.

Basic Movements of the Ankle

Only two movements are possible in the ankle joint. The first is flexion, also known as dorsiflexion, or the movement of the toe area of the foot toward the shin. In this action there is a combination of inversion at the subtalar joint and dorsiflexion at the ankle joint when executing ankle joint flexion. The second is extension, also known as plantar flexion, or the movement of the toe area of the foot away from the body. In plantar flexion there are simultaneous movements of the foot around the subtalar and ankle axes, i.e., a combination of eversion at the subtalar joint and extension at the ankle joint. When you are in contact with the floor, ankle joint extension raises your body, and when you are airborne, it points your toes. The two movements of the foot in the subtalar joint are not true ankle joint movements but are usually referred to as ankle movements. They are inversion and eversion, which take place between the talus (ankle bone), the navicular (tarsal bone), and the calcaneus (heel bone). In inversion, also known as adduction or supination, the sole of the foot is turned inward and upward. In eversion the foot is turned outward and downward, that is, the toe area of the foot is pointed outward. These movements are an important part of the pushing-off actions required by athletes in many sports. Development of the muscles involved in eversion and inversion helps prevent ankle sprains. In running, pronation and supination respectively are the terms most commonly used for these actions. Note that the precise meaning of these terms is different, depending on whether it is in medicine, podiatry, sports, chiropractic, physical therapy, etc. The exact definitions vary depending upon the field. However in sports, the most common terms are inversion and eversion and thus they will be used in this text. Having muscle strength on both sides of the ankle and foot is important in maintaining joint integrity. Any imbalances in the strength or flexibility of the surrounding musculature result in misalignment. This in turn must be counteracted by muscular contractions or ligament tension. If not, postural imbalances occur. Athletes with shin splints usually have significantly greater plantar flexor (extensor) strength than dorsiflexor (flexion) strength and greater movement of the calcaneus during the support phases of running and walking. Over development of the ankle extensors tends to also cause a muscular imbalance between the strength of the foot supinator and pronator muscles, which may result in lateral ankle sprains, particularly when landing after being airborne. The muscles of the ankle and foot have a very intricate structure. There are muscles that affect only the toes, others that affect the toes and the ankle, and still others that work only the ankle and, in some cases, the ankle and the knee. Many of these muscles have more than one action, so in order to have only one movement it is necessary to have other muscles participate to prevent secondary actions.

Anatomy of the Ankle Joint

The ankle joint is formed by the junction of three bones: the talus bone of the foot and the tibia and fibula bones of the shin. The ligaments that tie and hold the ankle joint together limit the joint's voluntary movement to about 60 degrees. However, if the body's weight and external weights are used, the range of motion of the ankle can be increased. The subtalar joint is located between the talus and calcaneus bones. This is the joint that is typically involves in ankle sprains or strains. It is an inter-tarsal joint that involves several bones of the foot. The  ankle joint involves only the two bones in the shin and one in the foot. The subtalar joint allows for different positions of the foot and leg in response to weight-bearing,  particularly when running or jogging on uneven or curved paths. It is the main connection between foot  mobility and stability of the ankle and leg.

The Gradualness Training Principle

Regardless of your exercise program or level of performance, any increases in speed, flexibility, strength, resistance, repetitions, or sets should be very gradual. For example, if you are accustomed to doing twenty reps for two sets, you should not in one day change to fifty or sixty repetitions or do four sets. Your body is not ready for such abrupt changes and injuries may occur. To prevent injury and maximize your results, all gains should be gradual.

The Agonist Muscle Role

A muscle is called a prime mover, agonist, or muscle most involved when it is the main muscle involved in a concentric contraction. For example, in the biceps curl the biceps brachialis and brachioradialis are agonists for elbow flexion. Many muscles are prime movers in more than one action, as for example, the biceps is also a prime mover in forearm supination.

Weight Training Exercises - How Many Repititions?

One of the most frequently asked questions is how many repetitions should be done for each exercise. This is a valid question since the number of repetitions (together with the number of sets) is the key to the type of development that will be produced. However, it is important to understand that there are no magical numbers that will produce the changes you desire. Strength, flexibility, muscle mass, and muscular endurance development are very individualistic. For some individuals doing a certain number of repetitions will produce the greatest increase in strength, flexibility, endurance, etc. while for others there will be minor changes. Because of this, you must pay close attention to the changes you receive from doing exercises with different numbers of repetitions in regard to your capabilities. There are, however, some excellent guidelines to direct your training based on research and practical experiences. Following are some guidelines for the number of repetitions that should be used when the athlete is well experienced in weight training and has been in training in his sport for several years. 1-4 repetitions are for pure strength. There are no increases in muscle mass.5-9 repetitions for strength together with muscle mass.10-15 repetitions for muscular strength, muscular endurance, and muscle mass.16-30 repetitions are for muscular endurance. There may also be small increases in muscular strength and/or mass.31-50 repetitions are used for the development of muscular endurance, no mass and some cardiovascular endurance.50-100 repetitions for muscular endurance, cardiorespiratory endurance, a possible loss of fat andmass and no strength increases. Keep in mind that these are only guidelines and there is variation in the numbers depending upon the individual and his or her stage of training. For example, high-level athletes who require increases in strength usually train in the 5-9 RM range, but not year round. Training with the same number of repetitions and weight leads to the hitting of a plateau (or full adaptation) in regard to increases in strength or other physical qualities.

Weight Training Exercises - How Many Sets?

It is generally assumed that when you lift weights you should do three sets of each exercise inorder to gain strength. This is a fallacy. If you are a beginner, doing one set will give you the same gains as doing two or more sets. The reason for this is that one set is more than adequate to sufficiently deplete your energy supplies to bring about supercompensation. The higher your level of fitness and the more strength you want to gain, the greater is the number of sets. This also depends on the percent of maximum weight being used. In general, the more sets you do, the fewer the repetitions for each exercise. The more repetitions you do, the fewer the number of sets that are needed. In supercompensation your energy supply is not only restored to the original level, but additional energy supplies are deposited to allow for more work in the upcoming workouts. During supercompensation, there is restructuring of the muscles and tissues to increase their strength, endurance and/or mass. In addition, there is usually greater capillarization to better support the muscles and tissues and other organs. These changes enable you to do the same or greater amounts of work with greater ease in the following workouts. The changes that are produced during the phase of supercompensation are the key to any development that you undergo. As fitness and strength levels increase, it may require two sets or more to adequately deplete the energy stores in order to continue achieving supercompensation. When two sets are insufficient, it is necessary to do three sets. This applies only when the number of repetitions is no greater than 8-12 RM. However, the use of two or more sets is usually reserved for the third or fourth year of training. Doing more than one set soon after initiating the strength training program, creates excessive stress on the body. Studies have shown that lower intensity programs produce greater supercompensation which results in greater development of the body. This is why it is often best to stay with one set for longer periods of time. The one set will produce greater and better results. Doing more than 3 to 4 or more sets does not allow the body to produce the gains that are possible when less stress (less intensity) is employed. This is a fact that is typically been overlooked in the development and practice of effective strength training programs. A more advanced athlete may use a low range of 3-5 RM. In such cases, five or six sets can be done. If a 1-3 RM routine is used, then it is possible to do up to 6-8 sets. However, when the number of sets gets this high, fatigue usually sets in and there is a breakdown in technique. Because of this, some athletes can be found using 10-15 sets, but this is seen only when practicing a particular lift for competition. In this case, each set consists of 1-2 repetitions and they are executed over the course of a day, not in one workout. Such high-intensity workouts are recommended only for the highest level athletes. It must also be pointed out that all novice athletes should do a greater number of exercises rather than more sets and a limited number of exercises. There are multiple and sometimes complex reasons for this. They are discussed in the next section. Suffice it to say, a greater number of exercises are needed in order to fully develop the body. This is especially needed for the high school athlete and for athletes who have not previously trained. The greater number of exercises is necessary to develop the base needed in order to do more intense or specialized strength exercises. Note also that it takes approximately 20 or more exercises to cover all the major joints and joint actions of the body. When the athlete (usually high school level) completes all the exercises for a total body workout, there should be a high level of fatigue. In such cases doing more than one set will lead to overtraining. Thus, you should use additional sets wisely. This should mean only when additional sets help to ensure continuous development of strength and other qualities. Always adjust the number of sets to the number of repetitions and number of exercises that are used in one workout. In general, there is no magical number of sets that will produce the greatest development. The exact number always depends on your level of fitness, mastery of the exercises, training objectives, and stages of training. For most athletes however, less intensity is most important for continuous development  of the body and sports abilities.