Strength Training: Lower Body Muscle Groups
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What are adductors and abductors?
When devising a strength-training program, it is important to be sure that you cover all of the major muscle groups of the body. While women may want to focus on what they consider to be their "problem areas," since we now know that there is no such thing as "spot reduction," it behooves you to work your entire body. These are the major lower body muscle groups that should be included in any women's weight training program.
- Gluteals: This muscle group includes the gluteus maximus, which is the large muscle that covers your butt. Exercises for this area include the squat, lunges and the leg press machine. Some gyms that focus on strength training for women include a machine called a "butt buster."
- Quadriceps: The quadriceps are the muscles in the front of the thigh. They are responsible for extending, or straightening your leg. The best exercise for the quadriceps is the leg press machine. In general, women are much stronger in their quadriceps than they are in their hamstrings, which is the opposing muscle group. For this reason, they should be careful not to overwork this muscle group. You might see a machine called the leg extension. This exercise causes what is called "shearing force," which can make you susceptible to knee injuries.
- Hamstrings: These are the muscles in the back of the leg. The hamstrings are involved in flexing, or bending the knee. Any weight-training program for women should involve a detailed hamstring routine. Machines include the prone leg curl and the seated leg curl.
- Hip Adductors and Abductors: These are the muscles of the inner and outer thigh. The inner thighs are called adductors, because they being the leg towards (think add) the midline of the body. The abductors are the outer thigh muscles that bring the leg away from the midline of the body. Most gyms that feature weight-training programs for women feature an abductor/adductor machine. If you gym does not have one, you can use the leg attachments on the pulley machines.