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STRENGTH

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Strength is the ability of your body or a part of your body to apply a force. You can use isometric exercises to increase strength of various muscles. Isometric exercises consist of muscular contractions performed in a fixed, non-moving fashion. Isometrics can be performed in almost any place for short periods of time, wearing everyday street clothing. You can perform isometrics as you drive your car, work at a desk, or wash dishes. An observer will probably not detect that you are exercising.

Breathing is especially important during isometrics or blood pressure can rise, decreasing the flow of blood to your heart. On the other hand, if you breathe excessively (hyperventilate) before you exercise, and then hold your breath, you may faint.

Isometrics help you target specific muscle groups and strengthen them through prolonged contractions. The abdominals, for example, which keep the lower back and buttocks deep in the saddle, need to be strong. The abdominal contraction required for riding is more of a pushing out rather than a sucking in. To learn how to contract your abdominals without hollowing your back, place your hands on your abdomen and press your muscles against your palms. Exhale as your press your abdominals out and inhale as you relax the contraction. Once you have identified the feeling of an abdominal contraction using your hands, you will be able to perform this isometric exercise anywhere, any time.

To strengthen the inner and outer thighs, find an immovable object (the wall, the side of a desk, a footstool, etc.) that you can place your knees or ankles alongside. Then push outward to strengthen the outer thigh muscles and push inward to strengthen the inner thigh muscles.

An ideal way to increase the strength of specific muscles is to follow a training program using free weights and/or weighted resistance via a weight machine. Start with minimal weights and concentrate on establishing good form before you add more weight. Three 30-minute sessions per week will show great improvement in 4-6 weeks. Monitor your body’s response carefully and make weight changes accordingly.

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