This weekend, I bring you an exercise you can do from a chair. It is an effective move for strengthening the femur because it works the muscles in the upper leg. It also targets the core and lower leg muscles, making it ideal for restoring and maintaining functionality.
The Seated Femur And Core Strengthener strengthens the same muscles you use when you sit down and get up again. It’s excellent practice for helping you maintain basic functionality skills that may worsen at a later stage in life. And this ties in nicely with an inspirational study we look at about muscle strength and aging.
So let’s get started!
As we age, our muscles tend to weaken and atrophy if we aren’t intentional about strengthening and building them. Weak muscles can make it difficult to get up out of a chair, stand up from a squat, or get up from the floor. Today’s exercise addresses these muscles so you’ll be building muscle memory as you do it. And of course, you’ll also build bone.
The femur is the main bone that’s targeted in this exercise. As you will see, the Seated Femur And Core Strengthener works the muscles in the upper legs as you mimic the movement of getting up out of a chair.
The first muscle group you’ll feel working is the quadriceps, or quads. The four muscles that make up this group include:
- Rectus femoris (center)
- Vastus medialis (inside middle)
- Vastus intermedius (beneath the rectus femoris)
- Vastus lateralis (outer thigh)
Generally speaking, the quads run between the knee and the pelvis. The rectus femoris actually originates at the ilium of the pelvis and attaches at the knee joint. The others attach at various points on the femur itself. So working the quads is essential for building strong hip and knee joints as well as strengthening the femur bone itself.
The hamstrings are the main muscles in the back of the legs, and they consist of a group of three muscles, all on the back and middle of the thigh:
- Biceps femoris
Like the quads, the hamstrings connect to your knees and hips, so they are highly instrumental in knee joint stability and hip alignment. The biceps femoris actually wraps around the base of the femur at the knee joint and inserts at the inside of the knee.
To a lesser degree, you use the muscles of your lower legs when you sit down, too, such as the gastrocnemius (calf muscle). Your ankle joints flex as you go into a sitting position and again when you rise.
You also use your lower core muscles, which include:
- Abdominals (front of your stomach)
- Lower back muscles
- Obliques (the sides of your waist)
- Glutes (buttocks muscles)
These all work together to stabilize your torso as you bend forward and straighten up while sitting and standing. Using these muscles stabilizes and strengthens the pelvis and lumbar vertebrae.
Now let’s take a look at how to do the Seated Femur And Core Strengthener.
You need a hard-backed chair or stool for this exercise.
- Sit straight in the chair with your feet flat on the floor. Place your legs back against the chair as far as you can while still keeping your feet flat on the floor.
- Scoot your bottom forward toward the front edge of the chair and put your hands on either side of the front of the chair seat beside your knees.
- Lean forward and stand up halfway, keeping your hands in place.
- Lower yourself back down and repeat. The goal is six to 10 moves; but if you can’t get up to six, just do as many as you can.
If you’d like to round out your workout while still seated in your chair, you can move on to the Seated Abs And Hips Strengthener and the Seated Coordination Improver. The more you work these muscle groups, the more your muscles will respond and the better you’ll be at getting up and down.
This helps counteract the feeling of weakness and functional decline that often accompanies age.
Proven: Regardless Of Age, Your Muscles Respond To Regular Exercise
The muscle weakness associated with age may, in fact, be more an issue of disuse than an inevitable “side effect” of aging. According to a fascinating study involving 40 “recreational athletes” or “masters athletes” aged 40 to 81, adults who exercise regularly do not experience the muscle atrophy and weakness often associated with age.
In contrast to previous studies, which looked at the muscle mass of sedentary adults, researchers in this study analyzed the muscle mass of active seniors. Specifically, muscles in the thigh were tested for mass, torque, and area using magnetic resonance imaging.
When analyzed, the muscles in the active adults did not decline in any of these areas, leading to the following conclusion:
“This study contradicts the common observation that muscle mass and strength decline as a function of aging alone. Instead, these declines may signal the effect of chronic disuse rather than muscle aging. … This maintenance of muscle mass and strength may decrease or eliminate the falls, functional decline, and loss of independence that are commonly seen in aging adults.”1 (My emphasis).
What encouraging results!
The study looked at the lower extremities of the participants – the same areas addressed in today’s challenge. It’s vital to have strong leg muscles to preserve functionality, avoid falls, and overcome the decline of muscle mass that can accompany a more sedentary lifestyle associated with aging.
You’ll find various exercises specifically for the lower extremities in the Densercise™ Epidensity Training System. Moves like the Parade March (page 18), the Hopscotch Jump (page 26), and the Wall Walk (page 49) target the joints, bones, and muscles of the legs. In addition to these and other lower-extremity exercises, Densercise™ includes lower-body stretches to promote alignment and flexibility.
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Densercise™ is an excellent way to stave off the negative effects associated with aging. You don’t have to put up with muscle weakness just because you’re an older adult. You can do something about it, and Densercise™ can help!
Enjoy the weekend!
1 Wroblewski, A.P., et al. “Chronic exercise preserves lean muscle mass in masters athletes.” Phys Sportsmed. 39. 3. (2011): 172-8. Web. June 23, 2016. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22030953