Don’t Ignore Your Upper Body!

July 25th, 2011 by Amy Gonsalves Leave a reply »

I’m always talking about how to do a squat or a lunge or how to keep your core strong, not to mention discussing what it takes to get my legs to run, but don’t take my relative silence on the  upper body to mean it’s okay to ignore it!

Take my suggestions here with a grain of smart salt: if a certain move doesn’t work for you for whatever reason, don’t do it!

You may have been one of those people who adopted a new catch phrase for your upper body ‘round about 2008-09: Michelle Obama Arms. 

And you might recognize that a large part of Mrs. Obama’s sculpted arms is genetic, a large part of it is a result of her diet, and about 5-10% is related to her workouts.  (How do they look to you now, once you think about how well she must eat in the White House compared to how we eat when we feed ourselves?)

That said, we do owe it to ourselves to love our arms.  LOVE them.  Make them the best and strongest arms they can be.

Which does take some thought, and some knowledge.

Your upper body consists of five general muscle groups: back, chest, shoulders, biceps, and triceps.

Back and chest muscles support all motions of your arms as well as facilitate movement and stability of your spine as you move through your day.  Keep up your ab work and strengthen your lower back with moves like supermen and bird dogs, and always think about your posture!!

Your shoulder joint is the one joint in your body with the greatest range of motion and therefore can be injured if you don’t pay attention to your form! Keep your shoulders pulled back and down to combat the hunch and inward caving you experience from sitting at your desk or computer.  Always follow the Rule of Thumbs: be able to see your thumbs throughout any overhead moves to avoid nerve impingement and injury.

Biceps help you grasp and carry, and are those “flex” muscles.  Your biceps (“bi”= two) attach to your shoulder in two separate places and attach inside your elbow in one spot.  Doing hammer curls (thumbs up, palms face inward toward the midline of your body) and traditional bicep curls (palms face the ceiling as your hands move toward your shoulder) uses different portions of the muscle, so make sure you hit them both!

Your triceps (“tri” = three) extend your arm and have three separate attachment points along your upper arm but share a common tendon above your elbow.  To avoid that certain waddle, you want to use all three aspects of your triceps as you perform kickbacks, dips, overhead extensions, and triceps pushups.

Remember: muscle tissue does not know age—it knows use and it knows disuse.  USE IT or lose it!

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