Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Curls, curls and more curls.

The good news: Everyone has six-pack abs.
The bad news: A six-pack may not be visible because it’s covered with a layer of, yes, fat.  #darnit #absaremadeinthekitchen

I now know this to be true because I actually SAW the abdominal muscles of a cadaver in a lab at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

How did I happen to see a cadaver?

One day after Jazzercise, I asked Vicki Hurd, a long-time instructor, to help me out with a blog about biceps. We do different kinds of biceps curls in class and I wanted to know more about the muscles we worked. Vicki happens to be the anatomy and physiology lab manager at UNL so she suggested I come to her lab and take a look at the real thing.

That’s how I found myself gloved up and sitting on a stool next to a cadaver. As soon as it was clear I wasn’t going to pass out, I stood up and took a closer look. Let me tell you, the human body is amazing! I saw the major organs like the heart and lungs and even things like the IT band, a ligament that causes knee and thigh problems for runners.

And yes, I now know all about the Brachii, the Brachialis and the Brachioradialis, the long and short heads of the Brachii and which types of curls target which muscles.
Helping Vicki out was Mark Ringle, the head teaching assistant for anatomy who plans to attend medical school in the fall. As a former UNL gymnast, Mark knows a thing or two about muscles, bones and training. He started gymnastics at age 4 and over the course of his career, he had three shoulder surgeries, two forearm surgeries and ten broken bones. His most recent break happened while practicing on the high bar. One of the leather hand grips Mark wore got stuck on the bar. Momentum pushed his body around the bar anyway and he broke two bones in his arm. (It’s probably not a surprise that Mark wants to be an orthopedic surgeon. He has so much experience!)

Vicki and Mark in the lab.

Here’s what I learned about biceps from Vicki and Mark.

·      We do a variety of curls in class to balance the muscles and avoid overtaxing them. 

·       All the biceps muscles are worked when we do biceps curls but various types of curls isolate specific areas of the bicep. A regular biceps curl with the palms up works the long and short heads of the biceps Brachii, the prime bicep. A hammer curl isolates the Brachioradialis which is a weaker flexor. A reverse curl targets the Brachialis, a strong forearm flexor. It’s important to isolate all of the parts of the bicep.

·      Don’t be a jerk or a swinger. Movements should be smooth, not jerky. Pause at the top of the movement and then defy gravity. Don’t drop the weight, lower it slowly.

·      Pick the right weight. If it’s too light, you aren’t challenging the muscle. But if it’s too heavy, you compromise your form and risk injury.

·      A biceps needs a good tricep. As with all weight lifting, you want to work opposing muscles. So you often match biceps curls with triceps extensions.
Probably the most important message I got from Vicki and Mark is TECHNIQUE IS IMPORTANT in weight lifting. If you do it right, you avoid injury and maximize your results.


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