When it comes to working out and exercising, most people either focus on cardio, such as running or biking, or the “glamour muscles.” What are these glamour muscles, you ask? These are the ones that may look good by the pool, but are not necessarily helping you hit your health goals. The glamour muscles include the biceps, triceps, shoulders, and core (or abdominal muscles). While these muscles are important, there are other areas to focus on for even better results.
We’ve all heard the saying, “Never skip leg day!” However, there are still lots of people who would rather do bench press and curls than squats and deadlifts. Here is why training your legs and other large muscle groups is so important:
- The bigger the muscle, the more it will burn. Without getting into too much of the science and physiology, our cells and the cells in our muscles have little energy converters known as mitochondria. These mitochondria are said to be the “powerhouse” of our cells and help convert oxygen and calories into energy, both during workouts and during rest. The larger a muscle is, such as your hamstrings as opposed to your triceps, the more mitochondria are present. The more you work and strengthen those larger muscles, the stronger the mitochondria become as well. The stronger the mitochondria are, the more efficient they are at burning calories. So, you can train your biceps and triceps and strengthen a small percentage of mitochondria to burn calories, or train massive muscles like your legs and back to exponentially increase your fat burning capabilities!
- There is no such thing as “spot reduction.” You cannot only do bicep curls and expect to only burn calories in your arms. Although you may strengthen the bicep muscles by focusing on specific exercises, calories burn at an even rate around the entire body. Most people do not have a problem with the size of their muscles. Rather, they have a problem seeing those muscles because of excess calories and fat. So, instead of trying to develop your abdominal muscles by only doing sit-ups, train the larger muscle groups in your legs and burn more calories and fat that are surrounding your stomach!
- We are foundational creatures! As long as we’re upright, all our strength and power comes from our legs. Even if you’re training your upper body, you still depend on a stable base and foundation. To neglect our base and foundation is to only set yourself up for injury or improper movement down the road. This holds true for our back and posterior as well. To keep ourselves upright and in proper alignment and posture, we must focus on what is known as the posterior kinetic chain. The posterior chain consists of the back of our neck, our entire back, our glute muscles, the hamstrings, and the calves connecting to our heels. By strengthening this chain, we prevent hunching forward and improper posture and structure. Remember, only with proper structure do we see proper function!