Focus on 1 part
Since it’s well in to January now and we are cracking on with our work outs and healthy eating, why not try a different approach to building muscle? Yes I know you go to the gym doing a leg session and you get onto those BB squats etc etc and you hit your chest with bench presses and the list goes on. But what if I told you that although these are obviously fantastic and proven exercises, there are other ways of seriously improving muscle strength and even mass! This is where we talk about body focus work.
Ahh finally we can up our training programmes to specialise to focus on a certain body limb. Basically body focus all means that you concentrate on 1 muscle group at a time but when I talk about body focus, I talk about breaking that muscle group up. Not literally breaking the muscle – that would be detrimental to your growth but I mean is say you want to do a leg session so instead of carrying out exercises on 2 legs…get on 1!
Body focus work outs are a fantastic way of building strength! Yes a standard quote told by many any the fitness industry that you do this you do that it will give you strength. You eat spinach and you will turn out like Popeye. But there are advantages of concentrating on 1 part at a time and one of which is your ability to balance body positions. Due to the fact that many of us have office jobs does not help our ability to balance correctly. I don’t mean going to work and having 1 leg competitions and walking on your hands although that would be cool but I mean even when walking on 2 legs you need good balance. How many times have you been walking or doing something, carrying things, knocking in to things, avoiding items and people and sort of lost your balance and form? Yea I can guess plenty. It’s common for you to be doing say house hold work and not being able to carry it out sufficiently due to lack of stability and this can cause falling over looking like a fool and more importantly – injuries! So when doing say 1 leg squats the body tries to adapt to the lack of stability and through practise you will better yourself and improve balance and proprioception. Honestly, give it a go and try a twist to your work out and implement some of these single limb exercises! I do them and they seriously do build muscle and improve balance!
Also more advantages like ruling out any muscle imbalances. Many of us and I mean many have 1 side stronger or weaker than the other. I know that my left leg is stronger than my right but I am on the way to sorting that out 😀. So doing again call it 1 leg squats for example will rule out any imbalances and strengthen that side of the body up to scratch. I’m not saying that don’t avoid the strong side just do more repetitions or more sets on the weaker side. It’s a great tool for when you get injured or suffer a serious injury and you need to build muscle up again. You don’t go straight in to heavy moves using both sides, you concentrate on 1 and carry on from there.
By doing focus exercises you will be working your core more !! Who doesn’t want a strong mid section which they can show off when they’re sun bathing to impress the rest of the bathers? When you aren’t using both sides of your body to stabilise, gravity is allowed to push down harder on 1 side of the body. Your body then beckons your core to start working even harder, constantly contracting those deep and superficial muscles to help maintain good form and posture. So we have all done planks right ? Now try a 1 leg plank and then do a 1 arm plank and then when you’re feeling confident and up for the challenge do a 1 leg, 1 arm plank with the opposite leg and arm off the floor. Now this is a lot more challenging than the normal ones. It’s the same for 1 arm press ups, 1 arm chin ups, 1 leg lunges etc etc. Anything when focusing on a certain part of a certain muscle group will cause the core to work harder.
Talking about strength – You can build amazing explosive strength and this in turn will help in your sport or recreational activity. When I do for instance 1 leg jumping squats, I know that my sprint speed and acceleration will improve thoroughly. I had a period of carrying out barbell 1 leg squats then jumping 1 leg squats straight after in a superset. Then for the first time in 2 months went on a treadmill and my time was so much quicker and I was running a lot faster with more consistency. It just shows you that building strength and focusing on 1 body part will build overall strength! By doing this you are stimulating the nervous system to specifically work in that muscle group and this in turn will allow the brain to concentrate more of its cognitive energy to that specific muscle. We all know that the nervous system is the key for muscle contraction or if you didn’t know then now you do so it only makes sense to focus on 1 part at a time and not to overwhelm the brain. When you get assignments or lots of work handed to you, you don’t spread it all out in front of you, you take each one at a time so you can focus and apply yourself. It’s the same with body focus work outs, the brain can apply itself better and help build better muscle!
There are a few advantages of doing these exercises, so give them a go! Try to implement them in your work outs already or change your work outs to these for a few weeks and see the difference. Word of warning though, please be careful and go lighter than you would because remember you are lifting the weight with only 1 side of your body! So exercise with caution, I don’t want comments on here regarding injuries – that’ll make me look like a fool! So give it a go everyone and see your gains 😀