There are countess reasons to get your behind to the gym. Maybe you want to prepare for a sport. Maybe you want to impress your high school crush. Maybe you want to get back at your backstabbing ex-wife. Whatever the source of your drive a few goals remain true. We all want a toned and balanced physique. Nobody likes a lagging body part that glaringly appears disproportional. Proportions are crucial not just for looking good, but also for strength, performance, balance and stability. To keep your body balanced it’s all about the angle. Exercise angle is a commonly overlooked variable that has a tremendous effect on your training.
Muscles contract in the direction of the fibers. For example the biceps run from the top of the shoulder down to the top of the forearm resulting in movement along that plane. Not all portions of a muscle run at exactly the same angle. This is why exercising at different angles is so crucial.
If you work a muscle at the same angle every time you will build the most strength within that range of motion and build the most size at that particular part of the muscle. Working different angles will stimulate strength and size gains within the entire muscle body
The body performs most effectively when it is balanced. Imbalances can cause issues with joint stability as specific muscles or parts of muscles pull harder on a joint. Working every part of a muscle keeps balanced tension around a joint and keeps the body moving within the optimal range of motion.
There are an infinite number of movement patterns the body can perform. From the grind of daily life to elite performance on the field of play, the body must dynamically adapt to move effectively to meet the demands of life. Stabilization of the body at every angle is important for injury prevention. In exercise it is important to build stability of the core to take pressure off the spine and allow working muscles to fire at full capacity. Changing the angle of an exercise forces recruitment of additional muscles to keep the body stable. The added emphasis on stabilization is highly beneficial in sports. To use football as an example, a running back must be able to make split-second reactions to cut, take a hit, or otherwise react to an unfolding play. The athlete’s body must have the capability to balance and stabilize regardless of positioning. Working muscles at every angle prepares athletes for any movement pattern and any situation on the field.
Now that we can see all the benefits to varying exercise angle how can you implement this in to a training regimen? This is accomplished in two ways.
- The first is changing the angle of force of an exercise apparatus. For example in the Bench Press the incline of the bench can be modified to work either upper or lower chest.
- The second method is changing the angle through which a movement is performed. For example in the cable tricep extension the angle could be downward toward the hips while facing the machine or overhead while facing away from the machine.
- A combination of both techniques can be used to prevent the body from adapting and to train at as many angles as possible.
The dynamic nature of sports and for that matter life requires a body that is ready for anything. Small tweaks to a training regimen will ensure that no detail is overlooked and no potential is unrealized. Don’t fall into the routine of hitting each muscle the same way each week. Change the angles to keep your body guessing and build a balanced strong physique.