Skeletal muscles are amazing units that allow movement by a pulling system. Your body has over 600 of these complex units, yet people only focus on engaging a few of these during a workout; mainly in order to aesthetically please themselves and/or others. It is imperative that all who train, whether with a professional or not, are aware that these units work in pairs and therefore it makes sense to train the pairings in order to maintain balance.

Muscles are usually arranged in opposition, thus as one group of muscles contract, another group lengthens or relaxes. These are scientifically known as antagonistic pairings.

The major antagonistic pairings are : biceps – triceps
pectorals – trapezius
deltoids – latissimus dorsi, abdominals – erector spinae
gluteals – hip flexors
quadriceps – hamstrings
gastrocnemius – tibilas anterior

Any type of strength training when done incorrectly can lead to muscle imbalance and result in injury. It is therefore important to strengthen and stretch ALL of your muscles. Otherwise these paired muscles are unable to work together in harmony which eventually causes the body imbalance. As a result of muscle imbalances, joints in the body will begin to adjust movement in different ways, again causing injury.

So do you overtrain a certain muscle or do you neglect any? Body balancing is essential to maintain stability. The abdominals are a classic example. They are not what is more commonly known as a “six pack”, but in fact an “eight pack”. These muscles often receive too much attention. The abdominals allow you to bend forward from the trunk, take a bow. Now this is all well and good if you bow every day, but really how often do you do that? Do you also do your 400 sit ups to complement your bowing fetish and if so, what about its partner in crime the erector spinae, (lower back), which consequently are the neglected and unsung heroes. Why? – The erector spinae muscles are vital for good posture whether standing or sitting. These muscles bend your spine backwards and sideways as well as aiding the whole body function.

So the next time you train, take time to think about how your amazing body works. When training one muscle, have you taken the time to train the other? Remember to aid the harmony of your body strengthen and stretch the pairings.

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