It is that time of year again. The sun sets earlier, the temperature nips at your nose, and we feel pressured to trade in our flip-flops for sweatshirts. As Old Man Winter comes knocking, it becomes more difficult to stay motivated to move and exercise. All activities become relegated to the indoors. For some that means hitting the weights, for others that means taking up indoor sports such as basketball. Whether you are an athlete, or you just like to get out there and move at your own pace, it is important to stay active and exercise two major areas of your body; back and legs. These are the largest and most powerful muscles of your body. By keeping them strong and healthy, you are doing so much more than getting ready for beach season.
Here are the Top 5 Reasons that Exercising the Back and Legs Are Important!
- Reduce Injury
Your legs include 3 very important joints; hips, knees, and ankles. Having strong legs keeps these joints healthy by protecting them against overuse injuries, and wear and tear.
Your back muscles anchor your body and keep things balanced upstairs. One major joint (aside from the wrists and elbows) stays especially healthy when there is balance on the front and back of the body; shoulders! Improved posture is something we can all improve since we spend so much time looking down at our computers and devices.
- Improved Performance
Who wants to jump higher? Who wants to run faster? Who wants to move better? Who wants to FEEL better?
When you have strong and shapely legs it is hard not to tell. Same thing applies to the back muscles. Men and Women alike take pride in having healthy looking legs because they are noticeable during shorts and dress weather. The back muscles give you that V-Shape taper that looks both masculine and feminine. Wider/stronger looking back muscles make the shoulders look wider which makes the waist appear to be thinner so no more holding in your stomach! Also, the back is another muscle group that is seen easier, so having stronger looking legs and back muscles is a major confidence booster for many people in their appearance to others.
- Healthier Body Fat Levels
Every January many folks join a gym in the hopes that they will lose those extra pounds attained during the fall season and Christmas/New Year holiday. Ask anyone who has developed back and leg muscles and they will tell you that working those areas is hard work for sure! Because these areas of the body are so large and powerful, it takes a lot of energy and calories to work those body parts. So by exercising them, you will gradually use more calories and thus lose stubborn body fat that has been hanging on the waistline since December. Of course, you must eat properly, but working these body parts is extremely beneficial in body fat control and weight loss.
This goes along with number three, but more so with the confidence boost you will experience because of the exercises that are so beneficial to work your back and legs. Most of these exercises will seem a little intimidating at first, but it is encouraged to talk to a coach or trainer who knows a thing or two about these exercises. Squats and Deadlifts are your bread and butter moves. They work everything, they are exhausting, and they are also very satisfying to do once you get better at them. Lunges and Step-ups are also very good for the legs while Rows, Pull-ups/Chin-ups and/or Pull-downs are fantastic for the back. These are hard exercises to do but like anything, they are satisfying to be good at and even more satisfying to gain strength and noticeable body changes with as well.
Work these muscle groups once a week for 3 months before adding a second day. Perform 3-5 sets of 6-12 reps for each exercise, resting 1-2 minutes between sets. Workouts shouldn’t last more than 45 min to an hour.
So let up recap: Feeling Better, Looking Better, Moving Better, and BEING Better…all things that sound wonderful and are very attainable. It just takes some hard work and consistency, but it is all doable. Good luck and get to work!
Written by James Buss, Personal Trainer YMCA of Rock River Valley