Target the Total Body to Avoid Pain and Improve Performance
In the fitness world, you often hear about the importance of “full body strength.” As physical therapists, we are major advocates of the benefits that come with strength and conditioning training. Strength exercises improve your balance and posture, give you better running form, and help you perform better overall. Even if you are not an athlete, your body will thank you for strengthening all of its working parts. Total-body training engages more muscle groups at once and utilizes the core. The benefits of working towards full body strength by training all the muscle groups throughout the body include:
- Burning more calories in less time
When you perform full-body training sessions, you are burning more calories because you are working more muscle groups. When your muscle groups collaborate in compound exercises, like squats and lunges, this uses more energy. Your body is burning calories while you are coordinating motions and while it gives oxygen to your muscles.
- Building more muscle
A full-body workout will target all of your muscle groups and promote muscle growth. Full-body movements activate more muscle fibers, which release higher amounts of testosterone, growth hormones, and IGF-1 hormones. For you, this means more muscle and less fat, and creates a better hormonal response.
- Maximizing strength
Full-body exercises usually incorporate compound strength exercises, which are an effective way to train for functional strength and cardiovascular health. Full-body exercises also allow you to use the most weight, and these types of weights require more effort to perform. This challenges your body and empowers you to continue maximizing your strength in ways you never knew you could.
- Maximizing workout efficiency
When you start to incorporate full-body workouts into your routine, you might find that you do not need to train as frequently. In this way, full-body workouts can save you time by decreasing the number of hours you need to spend in the gym. Even in one full-body session, you can reduce the time spent training by incorporating a full-body workout in which you perform one exercise per major body part. If you want to maximize your efficiency even more, you can cut down on the time spent resting between sets.
- Improving flexibility
Some people think that resistance training reduces flexibility, but this is not the case. If an exercise is performed correctly, which a physical therapist can help you achieve, it can help increase your flexibility through a full range of motion. Flexibility is important because it helps the various parts of the body work in harmony for good performance. The more flexible you are, the less likely you will be to suffer an injury.
What Areas to Target When Working Out
Different trainers might give you different answers when you ask them how many major muscle groups are in the body. When it comes to your strength training and fitness, the most comprehensive approach would be to target the six major muscle groups. Even though training the full body has a variety of benefits, it is important to remember that everyone’s body is different. A physical therapist can design a strength and conditioning program that is specifically tailored to meet your needs and considers any injuries you might have. As long as you understand the basics of the muscle groups, there is no need to be intimidated by strength training. Instead, we encourage you to be excited about the fact that you are taking your health into your own hands and investing in your body’s future. In order to achieve full-body strength, you will want to target these six major muscle groups and train each of them at least once every five to seven days. Here is a bit of information about each, as well as some insight into how a physical therapist can help you train them:
The pectoral muscles are one of the most isolated areas of the body. These muscles comprise of the pectoralis major and pectoralis minor. They contain fibers that go from the shoulder area anterior surface of the collarbone, the breastbone, the top of the first six rib cartilage, and the top of the external abdominal oblique aponeurosis. There are three main ranges of motion that a physical therapist will utilize in physical therapy that targets the chest: passive, active-assisted, and active range of motion. These exercises can be created and customized depending on the patient’s current condition.
A physical therapist can help strengthen the back through both passive and active exercises. These exercises can help you gain full-body strength and reduce back pain. A typical recommendation would be 15 to 20 minutes of dynamic lumbar stabilization as well as core muscle strengthening.
- Arms and shoulders
According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, 7.5 million people see their doctors in a given year due to a shoulder problem. The goal of a physical therapist’s program for arm and elbow treatment will be to improve strength, flexibility, reduce pain, and optimize function in the area. A physical therapist will also work to improve blood flow to the tendons. If you are dealing with an injury or suffering from pain, a physical therapist might use assisted exercises to begin. This will allow you to use one arm to move the other though a range of motion and allow your shoulder to move freely. If you would like to focus on strengthening, one way a physical therapist can help with this is through prescribing isometric exercises. According to the Journal of Orthopedic Physical Therapy, building strength in the external rotators of the shoulders is a great way to rehabilitate the upper arm. A physical therapist might also prescribe active exercises, which involve contracting the muscles to move joints through a range of motion.
From a physical therapy perspective, gaining leg strength begins by targeting the major muscle groups in the leg. Some common exercises that a physical therapist might recommend based on your current abilities and goals are straight leg raises, hamstring curls, wall squats, step-ups, side leg raises, and leg presses. Leg workouts will engage the major muscle groups of your body, optimize athletic performance, and provide a foundation for healthy movements in your life. Having strong legs will also help you prevent injury and manage conditions like arthritis, heart disease, and diabetes.
Your two calf muscles are called the gastrocnemius and soleus, and they function during foot flexion. This muscle group includes two muscle heads that form the Achilles tendon at the heal. You might not think about your calves as often as you think about other muscle groups, but you are using them constantly. Strengthening your calves can help prevent atrophy and improve the performance of your lower extremity.
When it comes to strength training and gaining full-body strength, it is important to do exercises safely and in a way that works for your specific body. Call ProFysio Physical Therapy at (732) 812-5200 or contact us online to learn more about how we can help.