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Balanced Training Recommendations


1) Perform an equal number of exercises with the same relative intensity between opposing muscle groups (eg, back and chest, hamstrings and quads, biceps and triceps). If you already have a deficit, try to do more sets on the weaker/disregarded bodyaprt until you have achieved better balance. Then train bodyparts equally.
2) To bring your training into balance, focus on isolation (single-joint) exercises while also modifying the compound movements that target the various muscle groups. For example some exercises, such as the squat and leg press, are generally regarded as quadriceps moves, even though they absolutely involve the hamstrings and glutes. However, by altering foot placement (wider, higher on platforms etc.) you can shift the emphasis to the less involved hamstrings.
3) If you have an existing deficit between opposing muscle groups, spend some extra time stretching the stronger muscle group and strengthening the weaker one.
4) If you find a specific bodypart to be particularly stubborn at responding to an adequate training stimulus, consider adding an extra day (or two) specifically dedicated to working the stubborn bodypart until it catches on.

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Is it important to incorporate a big mass builder for hamstrings, like romanian deadlifts into my workout, or are leg curls enough?


I think it is a good idea to add one of those mass builders in there. For one, with the romanian deadlift the hamstrings get worked from the hips, not the knees. This means you are working them completely in a different manner than with leg curl movements, even though both target the hamstrings. It helps with shaping the hamstrings and your glute-ham tie-in as well. I don’t think RDLs add too much mass to the bodypart it gives the illusion, which is important in bodybuilding. Sometimes the tape measure does not matter. It is all about the appearance.


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Beach Bummed


Competitive bodybuilders usually train for symmetry and proportion in an effort to build an aesthetically pleasing physique. There are many individuals who go to the gym to build up their beach muscles, disregarding symmetry and proportion in designing their training programs. Instead of training opposing muscle groups equally, they sometimes ignore the muscles they cannot see (back, hamstrings, calves, quads) and focus on the muscles they admire in the mirror everyday (chest, biceps, shoulders and abs). Although training specific muscle groups more than others can create an unbalanced-looking physique, disregarding a muscle group over time can potentially lead to other problems that may subject the body to injury.

One common mistake with regard to balanced training is performing an unbalanced training program between the chest and back muscles. The amount of time, energy, effort, volume and frequency between the agonist chest muscles and the antagonists back muscles may not be equal, or even close. A simple example would be an athlete who performs 4 sets os four exercises for the chest (for a total number of 16 sets) and does only 3 sets of three exercises for the back (for a total number of 9 working sets). Following this unbalanced training regime over time will result in back muscles much weaker than the chest muscles. This imbalance may lead to a slightly kyphotic posture (forward/rounded shoulders) that can potentially cause shoulder problems because of the faulty posture. In addition to the stronger chest muscles (compared to the back muscles) pullong the shoulders forward, inadequate stretching of the chest musculature can further contribute to this problem.

For some people, training legs consists of quads and that is it. The disregard their hamstrings while training only the quadriceps. Exercises such as the leg extensions, hack squats and front squats place a large amount of emphasis on the quads. Although these exercises are great you need to do an equal amount of hamstring work with leg curls and romanian deadlifts to stress both muscle groups. Distributing attention evenly to both muscle groups can give you healthier knees and lower back, as well as fewer hamstring strains because of an unbalanced hamstring-to-quad strength ration.

A less obvious training error woth regard to balanced training concerns the shoulders. Overhead shoulder press, incline bench press, flat bench press and other chest and shoulder pressing movements are critical for maximal muscle development. However, these exercises focus on the major muscle groups such as the deltoids, pectoralis major, pectoralis minor and other muscles known as prime movers. Often ignored in a training regime is the training or isolation of the smaller muscle groups in the shoulder known as the rotator cuff (the supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor and subscapularis) that are critical in keeping the upper arm in the socket of the shoulder. Failure to train these smaller muscles groups, two of which are not even visible can create an imbalance between the large prime movers and small stabilisers. This lack of imbalance in strength may result in bursts of bursitis, tendinitis or even rotator cuff tears in the shoulder joint.


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Barbell Hack Squat


Barbell Hack Squat

Targets:
Quads, hamstrings, glutes primarily. Back secondarily.

Best in Workout:
Perform the barbell squat early in your workout. As it is a full-body move, it is best done with heavy weight,. Also it is tough on the lower back, so you want to be fresh as possible on each set.

Sets & Reps:
Performs 3-4 sets with 6-12 reps.

Stance:
Space your feet shoulder-width apart and firmly plant them on the floor, then drop into a squat position. You need a firm foundation and it starts with your feet. If you are new to this move, or deadlift-type exercises in general, you might notice that your heels tend to rise off the floor at the start. Work to keep your feet flat, this will get easier as you warm-up and become more accustomed to the move.

Arms:
With your arms fully extended, grasp the bar using a pronated grip just outside your legs, locking your thumbs around the bar. This position should resemble the start of a deadlift, only with the bar behind you. Many people make the mistake of trying to use their arms to pull the bar up. If you bend your arms in an attempt to raise the bar, you won’t be as nearly as strong as you could be. Your arms should act as hooks, attaching yourself to the bar.

Breathe:
Inhale deeply, holding your breath as you begin the move. You want to hold your breath at the start of the move. Not only are you stronger when you do so, but it will also increase your intra-abdominal pressure and stabilise your spine while protecting you from injury. As you begin the descent towards the start (bottom) of the move you will also naturally and necessarily hold your breath.

Legs:
Drive through your heels, extending your hips and knees simultaneously until you are standing erect with the bar, exhaling at the top of the motion. At this point, the bar should be just under your glutes. The barbell hack squat is very similar to the deadlift, in that it is a pressing move for the legs. Again, if you try and pull the weight up with your upper body without concentrating on the legs, you will defeat the purpose of this exercise, not to mention risk injury. Remember to squeeze the quads, hams and glutes at the top as you catch your breath. Use pulling straps, since the amount of weight you can press with your legs will probably exceed how much weight you can hold in your hands.


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Rounding Your Back On Romanian Deadlifts


It is not always wise to try and get a longer range of motion.
Keep you back flat for spinal safety.

The Blunder
There is really only one exercise that would allow you to round your lower back in a bent-over position, and that is during the stiff-legged deadlift (SDL), but that is primarily a lower-back, not a hamstring or a glute exercise. The trouble is that the SDL and the romanian Deadlifts (RDL) are closely related at first glance. Knowing how the two exercises differ and when to attempt them is critical. Our focus is to correct the romanian-style deadlift, for which there is never any rounding of the lower back, period. The RDL is a glutes and hams specialty move done with a flat back. If you round your back, you not only remove emphasis from the hamstrings and glutes, but you could also risk injury.

The Fix
The best way to correct an improper RDL is to go through a series of steps as you get into position. First, begin the RDL from a standing position. You can adjust your knees (unlocked to slightly bent), low back (flat and tight) and chest (up/big) all at once. Then as you bend over, you need to keep thinking “chest up, back flat, knees bent”. Along with a flat back and bent knees, the path of the bar is different during the RDL and the SDL. During the RDL, you need to keep the bar very close to your legs throughout the move. Conversely during the SDL, you actually allow the bar to drift away from your body. So as you can see, even though both are bent-over barbell moves, ther are dramatically different in technique and target muscles.

Start:
Stand upright holding a barbell in front of your upper thighs with a pronated (overhand) grip. Keep your feet shoulder-width apart and a slight bend in your knees, with your chest up, abs tight and the natural arch locked in your lower back.

Action:
Keeping your back flat, lean forward from your hips, pushing them rearward until your torso is roughly parallel to the floor. As you lean forward, keep your arms straight and slide the bar down your thighs towards the floor until the bar reaches your shins. At the bottom, keep your back flat, head neutral with the bar very close to your legs. Flex your hamstrings and glutes to raise back up while pushing your hips forward until you bring the bar back to the start position.

Leg Remedy: Romanian Deadlift
There are very few exercises that have as much going on as the romanain deadlift, which is why going through a mental checklist is your best bet to secure good habits. Besides form, many athletes try and take the bar so far down to the ground in an effort to increase the range of motion (ROM) that they are either forced to round their backs, or if they do keep their backs straight, they actually touch the floor with the plates. (In fact, some people do a hybrid of an SDL and an RDL, in which they try and bounce the bar off the floor at the bottom, which can wreak havoc on your joints and is not recommended.) If you are doing an SDL, allow the weight to settle on the ground, hence the “dead” part (but that move is not specifically for legs, so we will not discuss it here). Second, during a correct RDL, the bar never touches the ground. So, go through your checklist, stay strict and smooth for the best RDL possible.

https://veefitness.wordpress.com/2013/09/30/leg-blunders/

https://veefitness.wordpress.com/2013/10/02/lifitng-your-hips-off-the-pad-during-leg-presses/

https://veefitness.wordpress.com/2013/10/03/pointing-your-toes-excessively-inward-during-the-hack-squat-or-other-closed-chain-movement/

https://veefitness.wordpress.com/2013/10/07/letting-your-knees-travel-too-far-forward-during-lung-type-movements/

https://veefitness.wordpress.com/2013/10/09/lifting-you-hips-off-the-pad-during-the-lying-leg-curl/