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Healthy Cane column: You’ve got Legs, Use Them!

So you walk into the gym, shoot a couple glances over at the peanut gallery on the treadmills and then b-line for the bench.

It’s Monday! “International chest day” and the beginning of a grueling week of upper-body destruction only your fellow gym buddies would understand. Don’t get me wrong, unfortunately this was me in a prior life (well, maybe just a couple years ago), but ignorance is bliss.Many men who lift weights will give you excuses as to why their routines stay above the belt and never working their legs: “I get too sore,” “not enough time” and “legs are for girls.”

All of these excuses (minus the last one) are acceptable in isolated circumstances, but the benefits will be worth the sweat, soreness and embarrassment.Excuse yourself no more because, believe it or not, exercising your legs will actually make your upper body gains more significant.

Our lower halves contain much more muscle than our arms, chest and back- or should at least. This means our legs are capable of moving much heavier loads, burning more calories and stimulating the release of more stress hormones like epinephrine and, your favorite, HGH.These hormones will help with protein synthesis for muscle growth, affecting the whole body.

People forget that we are designed to perform dynamic compound movements. With our anatomy, the squat, lunge and deadlift are much more beneficial for daily movement patterns than, let’s say, an isolated bicep curl. So throw a day of legs into your weekly routine and watch yourself grow like a Chia Pet on Rogaine.

Jeremy Albelda is a senior exercise physiology major and a personal trainer. E-mail health questions to him at jalbelda@themiamihurricane.com.


March 7, 2010

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