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Resistance Training: Muscle Group Identification and Other Basics

Mar 25, 2008

Everytime you turn on the TV there is a new exercise program for your patients that they want to spend money on. Tell them to hold on to their cash! Dr. Sheri Colberg, Ph.D., FACSM starts this week talking about Resistance Training: Muscle Group Identification and Other Basics. In the next several columns, some basic resistance exercises that you can do using hand weight or resistance training bands will be described and illustrated for you to give to your patients.

Resistance Training: Muscle Group Identification and Other Basics


By Sheri Colberg, Ph.D., FACSM

SheriIn figuring out which resistance training exercises to do—either at home or at the gym—it’s helpful to have a basic understanding of which muscle(s) are being used for each activity, including the muscle names and their general location. In the upper body, you have muscles that include the shoulder deltoids (front, medial, and back portions), pectoralis major and minor (the pectorals, or “pecs”) on the front of your chest, upper back and neck muscles (latissimus dorsi or “lats,” trapezius, and rhomboids), and biceps (front) and triceps (back) of your upper arm. Your main lower-body muscles include the quadriceps (“quads”) and hamstrings on the front and back of your thighs, respectively, adductors (inner thigh), gluteus muscles (“gluts” or buttocks), and calf muscles (gastrocnemius and soleus). Finally, your abdominal muscle directly in front and down the center is the rectus abdominus, but all of the stomach muscles together (including the internal and external obliques on your sides) are collectively called abdominal muscles, or “abs.”

Refer to the muscle chart that follows to learn the muscles and muscle groups most often targeted during training. Having a basic understanding of your own musculature also allows you to choose exercises that emphasize working multiple muscles or muscle groups first, followed by isolated muscles (for example, doing chest-press exercises first before isolating the front of the arm with biceps curls), which is the recommended progression of exercises to maximize your gains and avoid injuries.


© 2006 by Sheri Colberg and Patrick Ochs

Emphasize working larger groups of muscles first, before you isolate and work individual muscles within those groups. For example, it’s best to do a leg-press exercise to train all of your lower-body musculature together before doing specific exercises to isolate the quadriceps on the front of your thigh. Also, vary the order of your exercises so that you don’t work the same muscles consecutively without at least a small break in between to allow your phosphagens (ATP and CP) to fully replenish between sets, which takes 2-3 minutes. Plan on doing abdominal exercises last–at the very end of workouts–so that you haven’t fatigued these muscles before you have to rely on them to maintain your posture during other exercises.
For best results (and the lowest injury risk), exhale through your mouth as you are lifting a weight or working muscles against a resistance or gravity while performing the work. This portion of the exercise (the concentric portion) is usually done during a count of two (“one, two”). When you are returning to the starting position in the direction that gravity is pulling the weight (i.e., doing eccentric work), silently count to four (“one, two, three, four”) to emphasize the eccentric portion of the lift, and inhale throughout the motion.

In the next several columns, some basic resistance exercises that you can do using hand weight or resistance training bands will be described and illustrated.  To do these, you may wish to purchase inexpensive resistance training bands, such as Dyna-Bands or other rubber tubing (e.g., bands for Pilates), from a sporting-goods store, drugstore, or online. Most of them allow you to progress your training by using bands of varying resistance (usually color-coded so that you can tell which ones offer easy, medium, or hard resistance). Alternately, you can use more traditional dumbbells during exercises by buying an inexpensive set of small ones. If you’re just starting out, get a set that ranges in weight from one to ten pounds, or possibly a smaller range, like one-pound, three-pound, and five-pound weights to start. If you’re strong enough that small weights are extremely easy to lift, you may want to either invest in a costlier set of heavier weights or consider joining the nearest gym or workout facility to have access to heavier loads and resistance machines. If you would rather not invest in any weights, you can get creative using household items of varying weights that you can easily grasp in your hands.

In two weeks (and beyond), some basic resistance training exercises that you can do using hand weights and/or resistance bands will appear in this column. For more information, consult The 7 Step Diabetes Fitness Plan: Living Well and Being Fit with Diabetes, No Matter Your Weight by Sheri Colberg.  Also, visit her web site at www.shericolberg.com for additional articles and access to her fitness blog.