So now that you understand recovery its time to break the body into groups. When you try to move yourself through space or move an object through space most people, beginner and advanced alike, use every muscle in that kinetic chain. I call particular kinetic chains Functional Muscle Groups and I split the body up according to those groups. Basically most people can’t fire individual muscles independently. That type of body control comes from a mind muscle connection. By having sore biceps for years you can mentally identify which muscle the bicep is; its like sticking your hand in your pocket and pulling out your car keys and not pulling out a stick of gum. Thats a mind muscle connection: identifying the correct muscle with your mind. Since you can feel the bicep with your mind, you can activate it to contract, and not the other pull muscles. Thats muscle independence. Just pulling an object activates a whole chain of muscles, or the Pull functional group.
The functional groups are:
Upper Push -Chest, front and middle delts, triceps
Lower Push – Glutes, quads, calves
Upper Pull – Whole back, biceps
Lower Pull- Glutes, Hamstrings
The groupings are crude at best. There is an enormous amount of overlap and muscles left out, but I listed the primary, secondary, and tertiary muscles in order for one reason: Its the way the body has been traditionally been broken up. You dont want to train a muscle until its recovered, so you couldn’t do arms before chest or after chest on the concept you need your triceps on chest workouts and you would either have pre exhausted them, or overtrained them in this example with standard training ideology.
Examples Per Functional Group:
Upper Push involves using your arms to push an object away from you (open chain), or you away from an object (closed chain).
Open chain examples include: Bench press, incline press, tricep extension, shoulder press, tricep kickbacks
Closed chain examples include: Push ups, chinese push ups, diamond pushups, dips, olympic dips
Upper Pull involves using your arms to pull an object towards you, or you towards an object.
Open chain examples: Lat pull down, bent over row, dumbbell row, straight arm pull down
Closed chain include: Pull ups, chin ups, Australian pull ups
Lower Push involves using your legs to move an object away from you or you away from an object.
Open chain examples: Leg press, leg extension, glute abduction
Closed chain examples: Lunges, squats, glute extension, hack squats, Standing and seated calf extensions
Lower Pull involves using your legs to move an object toward you or you toward an object.
Open chain examples: lying leg curls, seated leg curls, ball curls
Closed chain: All manner of deadlifts, glute ham raise
Closed chain are considered safer by the orthopedic surgeons and I think they are ideal for beginners. Body weight exercises like squats, lunges, deadlifts, pull ups, australian pull ups, push ups and dips are excellent for creating a healthy athletic body. For people without aspirations of competing and just want to look like Brad Pitt in Troy this is enough.
If you want a super detailed body and complete control of your aesthetics than free weights and machines are the tools to chisel you into your own personal masterpiece.
If a weight is heavy enough every muscle in your body fires. So super heavy lifting, weight which you fail at in the 1-5 range, tends to make timely recovery an issue. Reps 6-12 are better for building muscle and you recruit less muscles from other functional groups.
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