Bodybuilding Training Article from

Weight Lifting and Weight Training - Chapter 3

Home Gym Equipment

Individual Stations

Folding Bench Press

Adjustable Combo Bench

Flat Bench

Heavy Flat Bench

Adjustable Spotter Bench

Bench Press Spotter

Basic Bench Press

Self Spotter Rack

Power Cage

Hip Sled

Dumbbell Bench

Smith Machine Bench

Jones Machine

Back & Arm Machine

Cable Crossover Machine

Squat Rack

Preacher Curl Bench

Roman Chair

Hyperextension Bench

Seated Calf Machine

Vertical Knee Raise

Hack Squat Machine

Power Rack

Power Rack Bench Combo

Power Rack Lat Attachment

Leg Extension Curl

Ab Crunch Board

Dumbbell Rack

Flat Incline Decline Bench

Utility Bench

Smith Machine

Smith Lat Attachment

Plate Loaded Gym

150 lb. Weight Stack

Selectorized Home Gym

Preacher Curl Attachment

Bench Squat Combo

Lat Machines

Phys-X Free-Standing Lat Tower

Olympic Weight Tree

Standard Weight Tree

Ab Crunch Machine


Home Gyms

Home Gyms

Performance Trainer

Biangular Gym

Two Stack Gym

4-in-1 Free Weight Gym

All-in-1 Free Weight Gym

Smith Gym


Cardio Equipment

8k Treadmill

10k Treadmill

Elliptical Trainer


Miscellaneous Items

Body Solid Miscellaneous

Bodybuilding Accessories

Gravity Inversion Boots

Ab Blaster Slings

Olympic Adapter Sleeves

Rubber Floor Protector

Olympic Shrug Bar

Push-Up Bars

Chapter Three

How the muscles work

Although it isn't essential for the bodybuilder to have an expert knowledge of kinesiology (muscle mechanics) it is useful to have some knowledge of the functions of the muscular system, where the muscles are located, and their names.

This accompanying anatomy chart, showing the major muscles on a bodybuilder, will be a useful guide in this respect.

In the human body there are three kinds of muscles: VOLUNTARY, INVOLUNTARY and CARDIAC.

The voluntary muscles are our main concern, those which we can move or control by positive thought and action. The involuntary muscles are mainly found in the internal organs, such as the stomach and intestines. The cardiac muscles are related to the heart.

Actually there are more than 500 muscles, most of them arranged in pairs, on each side of the body, but the bodybuilder is concerned with only about a tenth of this number.

The muscles are comprised of long cells of protoplasm, arranged in thin fibers of various length. Each fiber is surrounded by a sheath called the sarcolemma. A number of these fibers are bundled together and again covered by a sheath of connective tissue, the perimysium. Further, a number of these bundles are grouped together by more connective tissue, the epimysium.

Each muscle has a blood supply and a motor nerve, which provides the action of movement. Movement is made either by the will or reflex (involuntary) action.

Muscular tissue has the ability to contract (shorten) and return to its original length -- in other words it has elasticity. In the acton of contraction, the fibers shorten and thicken.

The action of exercising a muscle, alternately contracting and returning to original length, flushes it with blood and thickens the fibers in time. It also, of course, strengthens the muscle.

The muscles are attached to bone and have an origin and an insertion. Each end of a muscle has a tendon for attachment to the bone. The tendon itself is not elastic, nether does it have a blood supply.

The tendon attached to the fixed or more stabilized bone is called the origin; the other tendon, fixed to the moving bone, is its insertion. Sometimes a muscle is attached to another muscle in order to strengthen or supplement the action of that muscle.

When a muscle contracts it will pull the two bones to which it is attached closer together. For example, when you perform a curling movement, the forearm is pulled towards the upper arm by the contraction of the brachialis and biceps.

Each muscle passes over and activates a point and in some cases muscles act on two joints.

A muscle does not perform any actual work unless the origin and insertion approach each other.

The muscles are of various shapes and generally take their names from the shape or structure, situation, etc; e.g. biceps (two-headed), triceps (three-headed), pronator-quadratus (square), pectoralis major (large muscles of the chest).

A muscle can contract in three ways. (It is never quite relaxed -- there must always be some slight tension in order to bind the joints together and stop them from dislocating.)

First, there is concentric contraction, in which the muscle returns to its original length against a resistance as in curling a weight.

The there is eccentric contraction in which the muscle will not lengthen but remains in a state of static contraction, as in muscle control, alternately hardening and relaxing the muscle.

There are four purposes for which a muscle can contract. It can work as (a) a prime mover (b) an antagonist (c) a fixator, (d) a synergist.

The muscles that actually perform a movement, as for example, the brachialis and biceps when flexing the elbow, are prime movers. As they contract, their antagonists (in this case, the triceps) help the prime mover to act by gradually relaxing.

Another muscle can help the prime mover -- the synergist. For example, the bicep also supinates (turns) the forearm and flexes the shoulder. If you want to flex your elbow without performing these other actions, then the pronators of the forearm and the extensors of the shoulder must work also to inhibit these movements.

A muscle can hold a part steady so that other muscles can work from it -- this is a fixator. For example, the rectus abdominus can act as a fixator when you are performing a straight legs raising movement when lying on the floor, by steadying and holding the pelvis, from which some of the hip flexors work.

All muscles have a normal range of movement.

A full-range movement is the contraction of a muscle over its full length: that is, from fully contracted to fully stretched.

This full range is divided into outer, middle and inner ranges. An example of this is when curling a weight.

The movement from the start of the curl, with the arms straight, to a point just before the forearms are parallel with the floor, is the outer range. From here, to a point where the forearms are just above the parallel position, i the middle range. And from this point to the conclusion of the cutting movement, with the forearms fully flexed on the upper arms, is the inner range.

It will be seen that in this example, the muscles have to exert their greatest force to overcome the resistance in the middle range.

Some weight lifters and bodybuilders talk of certain of their lifts as being leverage lifts. Actually, all lifts are leverage lifts.

All movements that can be made by the body are leverage movement, as each set of muscle, joints or bones, is a lever.

There are three orders of lever and these apply to the human body in the same way as to engineering and science. In the body, the bones are levers, the joints fullcrums and the muscles the force.

In the first order of levers the (the lever of stability), the fulcrum is between the resistance and the power. Examples in everyday life are the seesaw, or a pair of scissors.

An example of this type of lever is the human body is in the action of bending the head backwards. The joint between the spinal columns and the cranium is the fulcrum; the weight of the head, the front of the fulcrum, is the resistance, and the upper fibers of the trapezius muscle, inserted in the back of the skull, is the power.

In the second order of levers (the lever of power), the resistance is between the power and the fulcrum. Everyday examples are a crowbar and a wheelbarrow (in which the wheel is the fulcrum).

An example in the human body is rising on the toes from a bent-over position. The hip-joint is the fulcrum, the weight of the trunk is the resistance, and the glute muscles, attached to the pelvis, is the power.

The relation of the power arm to the resistance arm determines the strength provided by a lever. The longer the power arm the greater the force that can be exerted.

In the human body most of the levers are of the third order, and generally work at a mechanical disadvantage. One would be much stronger if the majority of human levers were of the second order.

This chapter is by no means a complete treatise on the subject of muscles, which is a specialized subject and would fill much more space that I have available, but I hope I have said enough to enable you to have a better understanding of the muscular system and to appreciate the purpose of the various bodybuilding movements.

More chapters from this book below...
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