muscular fitness

When people think about muscular fitness, many immediately imagine a bodybuilder lifting weights to increase the size of his or her “lats,” “delts,” “pecs,” and so on. You may find yourself wondering what those strange words mean. In fact, they refer to the specific muscle groups that a weight trainer might want to target with a given exercise.

Muscle Groups

To develop an efficient and effective fitness plan designed to maintain and increase muscular strength, it is first necessary to review the major muscle groups of the human body.

  • Arms
    • The shoulder muscles, or deltoids (“delts”), allow us to raise and rotate our arms. Strong deltoids make possible all sorts of activities.
    • The biceps (sometimes called “bis”) are the round muscles at the front of the upper arm. Strong biceps allow one to lift or pull a heavy load.
    • The triceps (“tris”) are the muscles at the back of the upper arm. The triceps allow us to extend and straighten our arms.
  • Torso
    • The trapezius muscles (“traps”) run from the neck down to the middle of the back. They are the muscles you use when you shrug your shoulders. They also allow us to turn, raise, and lower our heads, and are vital to any upper-body activity.
    • The latissimi dorsi muscles are the broad muscles of the middle back and sides. Responsible for twisting, turning, and bending the torso, the “lats” helps us perform all types of movements.
    • The pectoral muscles (“pecs”) are the muscles of the chest. Used in just about every type of upper-body movement, pectorals also help us maintain good posture. Strong “pecs” can help strengthen other muscles of the torso.
    • The abdominal muscles (“abs”) are the muscles of the lower front torso. Because they connect upper body and lower body, the abdominals assist in many movements. Strong “abs” are vital to an overall strong muscular system.
    • The oblique muscles run up and down the sides of the lower torso, on either side of the abdominals. Strong oblique muscles play a role in posture, flexibility, and overall conditioning.
  • Lower Body
    • The muscles of the buttocks are known as the gluteal muscles (“glutes”). Together, they make up the gluteus maximus, the largest muscle in the human body, of which we have two. The gluteal muscles allow us to walk, run, and leap.
    • The quadriceps (“quads”) are the muscles at the front of the thighs. They make leg extension possible.
    • The hamstring muscles lie at the back of the thigh and make it possible to flex the leg while walking or running.
    • The calf muscles are the muscles of the lower legs that help control the feet.
  • Arms
    • Deltoids
      • Pull-ups, traditional or modified
      • Shoulder push-ups (performed with the hands and feet on the ground and the body in a “V” shape, bent forward at the waist)
      • Upright rows, with weights or bands (performed by raising weights from mid-torso to shoulder-level)
      • Shoulder press (upward), with weights or bands
    • Biceps
      • Pull-ups, traditional or modified
      • Curls, with weights or bands
    • Triceps
      • Bar dips, or modified dips
      • Push-ups, hands close together
      • Triceps extensions, with weights or bands
  • Torso
    • Trapezius
      • Pull-ups, traditional or modified
      • Shrugs, with weights or bands
      • Dead lifts
    • Latissimi dorsi
      • Pull-ups, traditional or modified
      • Pull-downs (on a weight machine)
      • Seated rows
    • Core
      • Pull-ups, traditional or modified
      • Plank pose
      • Boat pose
      • Crunches and curls
    • Oblique muscles
      • Side plank pose
      • Abdominal twists
  • Lower Body
    • Gluteal muscles
      • Lunges, with or without weights
      • Squats, with or without weights
      • Hip thrusts (from a supine position on the floor)
      • Step-ups
    • Quadriceps
      • Lunges, with or without weights
      • Squats, with or without weights
      • Leg press (on a weight machine)
      • Wall-sit exercises (performed with the back against a wall, upper legs parallel to the floor)
      • Step-ups
    • Hamstrings
      • Lunges, with or without weights
      • Dead lifts
      • Hamstring curls (from a prone position on the floor)
    • Calves
      • Calf raises, with or without weights (performed by raising the toes, lowering, and repeating)
      • Farmer’s walk (on the toes, with weights in both hands)
  • Burpees (squat, jump up, drop to plank position, push-up, jump up, repeat)
  • Squat to overhead press, with weights
  • Inchworm exercises (bend forward at hip and crawl hands forward until in push-up position, push-up, walk legs forward until bent forward again, repeat)
  • Push-up to side plank position (repeat alternating sides)
  • Form and technique matter. Improper form can lead to muscle strain and even injury. If you are unsure how to perform an exercise, find a fitness expert or a trustworthy online source for the correct information.
  • Be sure to warm up and stretch the targeted muscle group before lifting weights. This lessens the chance of injury.
  • Regardless of the exercise, the proper weight should tire your muscles out after about 12 repetitions.
  • Give your muscles time to recover by resting one full day between exercising each specific muscle group. Work different muscle groups on alternate days.
  • 30 minutes or more of exercise each day
  • at least five minutes of warmup and stretching, and five minutes of cool down and stretching each day
  • a variety of exercises that work different muscle groups. Do not repeat the same exercises nor work out the same muscle group on consecutive days.
  • incorporation of exercises that make sense based upon your personal fitness goals
  • Which types of exercise did you include?
  • How closely did you follow your muscular fitness exercise plan?
  • What are the strengths of your plan?
  • Which challenges did you face while trying to adhere to your muscular fitness exercise plan for a week?
  • What could you change about your plan to avoid such challenges in the future?
  • How could you adapt this workout to fit a busy schedule?

Types of Muscular Fitness Exercises

When considering types of muscular fitness exercise, people often think first of training in a weight room, whether using barbell and free weights, a weight machine, or flexible bands. In fact, while weightlifting can be a good way to increase muscle strength for some, it is far from the only effective method.

Consider some exercises for each of the major muscle groups. Not all involve weight training.

In addition to the muscle-specific exercises listed, many excellent muscle-conditioning exercises work multiple muscle groups. These include:

Muscular Fitness for Me

As you know, health experts encourage everyone to exercise regularly, and that includes regular muscular fitness exercises. Based upon your own physical fitness goals, choose from the exercises previously listed, as well as any others that you can find, that work the various major muscle groups. Choose exercises that you can complete and that you will enjoy performing.

If you choose to incorporate weight training into your muscular fitness exercise plan, here are some things to keep in mind:

My Plan

Create a two-week muscular fitness exercise plan that includes a plan for each of the 14 days. Your plan should include the following:

My Muscular Fitness Exercise Plan

Complete the assignment.

(Maximum Score: 14 points)

  • Attach your personalized 14-day exercise plan here.
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