As we all know, participating in regular exercise is very important in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Many people choose to strength train to meet their weekly exercise goals. When strength training it is important to have a balanced program of both upper and lower body exercises, this is essential in order to accomplish muscular balance. Unfortunately, many people choose to skip exercises when strength training. Some may omit lower bodywork, while others choose to stay away from upper body and only focus their attention to their lower half. Why you ask? Sometimes people do not see the importance in the balance of strength training. Some people have their favorite muscle groups, which they like to exercise the most, and it is usually not their lower body. It is also harder to hide a weak upper body than it is a wimpy lower body.
Prevents Muscular Imbalance and Overuse Injuries
Muscular imbalance in the body is not ideal and it’s not just about aesthetics. A muscular imbalance can lead to injury or pain caused by certain muscles that have to over compensate for other muscles that are not strong enough to handle a lift or everyday activity. Let us take the anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL, for example. If the hamstring muscle is not properly trained, it can cause strain on the ACL, in the knee, which could then lead to an injury. Along with muscular imbalances, overuse can cause injuries as well. When someone is constantly doing upper bodywork and does not give their muscles a break, they are bound to cause an injury. The same result can occur when focusing only on lower body or core work. Breaking up workouts throughout the week and working on all muscle groups helps prevent overuse injuries and muscular imbalances.
Important for Functional Movements
We must all be mindful of just how important strengthening our lower body is. Every day we use our lower body to walk, run, squat down, stand up, stand on our toes, and so much more. These are all common actions that people do countless times a day without ever thinking about it. The lower body provides tons of functional movements. Strength training can help increase efficiency in these movements. Increasing one’s strength in the lower body helps with overall strength, as well as provides some comfort and ease when completing routine activities. Our lower body contains some of the most powerful and largest muscle groups in the body, why wouldn’t we want to train them properly?
Results in Muscular Growth Throughout the Body
To gain muscle growth, there has to be a stimulus, or stress, in place to break down fibers. Strength or resistance training would be the “stress” in this situation. Satellite cells repair where the breakdown occurs, causing muscles to grow thicker and stronger. Certain hormones signal the activation of satellite cells, which also lead to muscle growth. Therefore, the more muscle mass that is stressed, the greater the muscle growth. Since the lower body has some of the largest muscle groups, stimulation caused by resistance training can cause a greater release of growth hormone and testosterone. This hormonal response aids in muscular growth throughout the entire body, not just the legs.
When participating in resistance training, it is very important to have a well-rounded, balanced program. Having a resistance-training program that includes lower body, upper body, and core training is crucial to have in order to avoid any muscular imbalances and overuse injuries. Lower bodywork benefits our bodies by improving everyday functional movements. Along with functional movements, stress in the muscles causes the release of hormones that aid in muscle growth. So, the moral of today’s lesson, never skip leg day!
Donatelli, R. Muscle Imbalance and Common Overuse Injuries.