Sunday, April 25, 2010

Muscle Spotlight: Triceps

I am going to start a new feature on my blog, and highlight a different muscle each month. I recently got re-certified with The National Academy of Sports Medicine as a personal trainer. They put a lot of emphasis on postural assessments and anatomy, and particularly muscles. This reminded me how few of the muscles in the human body most people are even aware of. Most know large muscle groups like pecs, deltoids, biceps, hamstrings, lats, etc. but few people know or appreciate all the others. Today I'd like feature the triceps muscle.

The triceps brachii muscle is located on the back side of the upper arm.When a person makes the traditional flex pose with their arm, it is the lower portion you see. It is called the triceps because there are 3 separate heads. The long, lateral, and medial head all work together and join at the elbow. It is the muscle that causes elbow extension and is the opposing muscle to the biceps.

Many guys want to develop muscular arms and they frequently do bicep exercises like curls to accomplish this. The triceps actually make up the majority of the upper arm mass, so neglecting them is a big mistake. Also women frequently complain of "bat wings" or :lunch lady arms". Having strong triceps muscles can give a toned appearance, but you can't neglect proper nutrition either if you expect to have lean looking arms.

Some exercises that work this muscle are French curls, cable press downs, close gripped presses, bench dips, kick backs, and skull crushers. Skull crushers are my favorite exercise, but since the bone spur on my elbow has gotten worse, I haven't been able to do that exercise for months. The woman in the picture below is performing a bench dip.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Portion Control: Know When to Say When

Tonight for Sunday dinner I made my famous mashed potatoes. I had thirds and even fourths and I knew I should have not eaten so much but they were so good. I finished my meal feeling full and guilty for not having more self control. I didn't even want to find out what a proper serving of mashed potatoes is supposed to be afterwards.

One of my least favorite things is to worry about portions and serving sizes. It is often eye opening and sometimes depressing when you realize how small some serving sizes are supposed to be. When I was younger, I often ate cereal in giant mixing bowls. I didn't realize that my large bowl was actually about 12 servings.

The problem with not understanding serving sizes is that many food manufacturers like to make deceptive claims about the calorie and fat content that is found in their product. They may say things like "only 100 calories per serving", but If you look close, a serving might be a ridiculously small amount like 6 tablespoons.

In addition to deceptive labeling, serving sizes have gotten bigger over the years. A 32 ounce big gulp used to be the biggest size of soda pop available. Today you can get a 64 ounce drink! I hope your you work close to a restroom. Almost every kind of fast food has evolved into bigger portions over time. I am not promoting fast food, but if you are going to eat out, sticking with items on the dollar menu will give you a smaller and more reasonable serving size.

One of my favorite comedians is Brian Regan and he does a great job of addressing this topic. ">