Weekend Challenge: Targeted Arm Strengthener And Chest Opener
We’re continuing with upper-body exercises this weekend with The Targeted Arm Strengthener And Chest Opener. It’s an excellent move to tone your triceps (the muscles in the back of your upper arms) and open up your chest. It also engages the core, strengthening the pelvis.
This challenge effectively counteracts slumped shoulders, and combines postural and resistance exercise which, according to research, is highly effective at increasing bone mineral density.
So let’s get started!
This exercise moves the spine and shoulders in the direct opposite manner of a forward hunch, helping to achieve better posture and correcting kyphosis (Dowager’s Hump). Working the muscles in this way helps pull the skeleton back into proper alignment.
The triceps bracii run along the back of your arms along the humerus bone in your upper arm. The triceps do not attach directly to the humerus, however. They originate on the scapula, right below the socket in the scapula where the head of the humerus attaches.
From there, the triceps run along your humerus bone and insert at the back of the ulna at a small, bony, hook-shaped structure known as the posterior olecranon process. Your ulna is the lower arm bone that runs from your elbow to your wrist on the outside, creating a visible bump in your wrist. (The other upper arm bone is your radius, and runs along the thumb side of your lower arm.)
The triceps has three primary aspects: the medial head, lateral head, and long head.
The primary action of the medial and lateral heads is to extend the arm at the elbow. The long head is responsible for extension of the arm at the shoulder. In today’s exercise, you will be using all parts of the triceps, building bone along the humerus and at the places of origin and attachment.
Muscles of the Chest
As mentioned earlier, this weekend’s exercise also stretches and opens up the chest by targeting the following muscles: the pectoralis major, minor, and serratus anterior.
The pectoral muscles, or pecs, run across the front of your chest. The pectoralis major is generally the most familiar, as it is the most superficial of the chest muscles and is relatively large. It originates on the clavicle or collar bone and attaches to the first through eighth ribs. The pectoralis major has several actions, including shoulder rotation, abduction, and extension.
The pectoralis minor is a smaller, deeper muscle of the chest. It originates on the scapula and attaches to the third through fifth ribs. Despite its smaller size, the pectoralis minor has an important job – scapular positioning. This muscle prevents the scapula from rotating out of alignment, such as occurs with poor posture and kyphosis.
The third muscle, the serratus anterior, lies along the ribs – specifically, the upper eight ribs. It inserts into the scapula, and plays a significant role in shoulder rotation. A tight or weak serratus anterior can result in a winged scapula, misaligned shoulder, and decreased shoulder mobility.
The Core Muscles
From the pelvis to the upper middle back, the core muscles hold your torso upright and allow you to twist, turn, and bend. The core muscles are crucial for good balance, and they also keep the pelvis and spinal column aligned. So when you work this important muscle group, you’re stimulating bone growth in the pelvis and vertebrae.
The Targeted Arm Strengthener And Chest Opener combines these muscle groups in one exercise. So let’s take a look at how to do it.
Since this exercise is performed on the floor, it will be more comfortable to use an exercise mat if you do not have carpet.
- Sit down on the mat and bend your knees, placing your feet flat on the floor. Place your hands on the floor behind you, fingertips pointing forward.
- Bring your hips up so that there is almost a straight line from your chest to your knees (like a tabletop).
- Bend your elbows and bring your hips down at the same time, and then push back up again, bringing your pelvis up and straightening your arms.
- Repeat 10 to 20 times, more or less depending on your comfort and fitness level.
This exercise goes well with the Shoulder Blade And Back Straightener, another Weekend Challenge that targets a similar area.
These sorts of exercises – the type where you “resist” gravity by lifting, pulling, or pushing weight – are known as resistance exercises. They are excellent at building muscle and bone, and in fact, resistance exercise has successfully reversed bone loss associated with space flight.
Study: Resistance Exercise And Weightlessness In Space
Back in 1985, when the space program was in full swing in the U.S., the issue of deteriorating bone density – referred to as “skeletal unloading” – in astronauts was a significant concern. Scientists conducted a study of this phenomenon. The participants were five men and four women, and their bone density was compared to 18 control subjects (13 men, five women).
Both groups were put on horizontal bed rest, a condition that mimics the weightlessness of space, for 17 weeks. The nine participants engaged in regular resistance training during those weeks, whereas the control group did not. The bone mineral density of those who engaged in resistance exercise was significantly different than the control group; for example, bone density in the lumbar spine increased 3 percent in the exercisers and decreased -1 percent in the control group, and hip density increased 1 percent in exercisers and decreased -3 percent in the control.1
While most of us are not regularly exposed to a low- or zero-gravity environment, we can inadvertently replicate those conditions by being a “couch potato.” Without realizing it, many people may spend hours every day in a reclining or sitting position, taking weight off of the bones, which leads to decreased bone density.
So the moral is, don’t be a couch potato! Exercise tends to lead to more exercise, so the important thing is to get started, so you can build your bones with effective, targeted moves.
The Densercise™ Epidensity Training System makes it easy to put that first foot forward. The exercises take just 15 minutes a day, three times a week, allowing you to easily fit them in your schedule.
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Please share your thoughts about this weekend’s challenge and about what motivates you to exercise for your bones by leaving a comment below.
Have a great weekend!
1Shackelford, L.C., et al. “Resistance exercise as a countermeasure to disuse-induced bone loss.” J Appl Physiol. 97. 1. (2004): 119-29. Web. June 10, 2016. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15220316/