Best Bodyweight Exercises For Legs

Best Bodyweight Exercises For Legs

Variable resistance exercise A type of dynamic exercise that uses a changing load, providing a maximum load at the strongest point in the affected joint’s range of motion.

Eccentric (pliometric) loading Loading the muscle while it is lengthening; sometimes called negatives.

Plyometrics Rapid stretching of a muscle group that is undergoing eccentric stress (that is, the muscle is exerting force while it lengthens), followed by a rapid concentric contraction.

Speed loading Moving a load as rapidly as possible.

Kettlebell A large iron weight with a connected handle; used for ballistic weight training exercises such as swings and one-arm snatches.

Isokinetic exercise A type of dynamic exercise that provides variable resistance to a movement, so the movement occurs at a constant speed no matter how much effort is exerted.

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Static Exercise Also called isometric exercise, static exercise causes a muscle contraction without changing the length of the muscle or the angle in the joint on which the muscle acts. In isometrics, the muscle contracts, but there is no movement. To perform an isometric exercise, a person can use an immovable object like a wall to provide resistance, or simply tighten a muscle while remaining still (for example, tightening the abdominal muscles while sitting at a desk). The spine extension and the side bridge, shown on page 113, are both isometric exercises.

Static exercises are not used as widely as dynamic exercises because they don’t develop strength throughout a joint’s entire range of motion. During almost all movements, however, some muscles contract statically to support the skeleton so other muscles can contract dynamically. For example, when you throw something, hit a ball, or ski, the core muscles in the abdomen and back stabilize the spine. This stability allows more powerful contractions in the lower- and upper-body muscles. The core muscles also contract statically during dynamic exercises, such as squats, lunges, and overhead presses.

Static exercises are useful in strengthening muscles after an injury or surgery, when movement of the affected joint could delay healing. Isometrics are also used to overcome weak points in an individual’s range of motion. Statically strengthening a muscle at its weakest point will allow more weight to be lifted with that muscle during dynamic exercise. Certain types of calisthenics and Pilates exercises (described in more detail later in the chapter) also involve static contractions.

A concentric contraction

An eccentric contraction.

For maximum strength gains, hold the isometric contraction maximally for six seconds; do 2-10 repetitions.

Dynamic Exercise Also called isotonic exercise, dynamic exercise causes a muscle contraction and a change in the length of the muscle and the angle of the joint. Dynamic exercises are the most popular type of exercises for increasing muscle strength and seem to be most valuable for developing strength that can be transferred to other forms of physical activity. They can be performed with weight machines, free weights, or a person’s own body weight (as in curl-ups or push-ups).

There are two kinds of dynamic muscle contractions:

• A concentric muscle contraction occurs when the muscle applies enough force to overcome resistance and shortens as it contracts.

• An eccentric muscle contraction (also called a pliometric contraction) occurs when the resistance is greater than the force applied by the muscle and the muscle lengthens as it contracts.

For example, in an arm curl, the biceps muscle works concentrically as the weight is raised toward the shoulder and eccentrically as the weight is lowered.

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