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Angle Change: A Game Changer in Muscle Activation

The muscles in our body work by contracting and relaxing, generating force to move our bodies.  However, not all muscles engage equally in every movement.  Various factors influence muscle activation, including your body’s alignment.  

Alignment refers to the positioning of various body parts relative to each other and to the ground during exercise.  Whether it’s the angle of your joints, the orientation of your spine, or the placement of your feet, every aspect of alignment plays a role in determining which muscles are activated and to what extent. By making subtle adjustments to your alignment, such as adjusting the angle of a specific joint, you can manipulate the biomechanics of an exercise, effectively redistributing the workload across different muscle groups.  Small changes, even a few degrees or so, can alter tension and range of motion of the muscles.


Subtle angle changes applied to common weight lifting exercises can make a substantial difference.  For example, incline, decline and flat bench presses all target the chest muscles, but the degree of activation varies.  Incline bench presses target the upper chest (pectoralis major), while decline bench press emphasizes the lower portion of the chest.  Flat bench presses evenly distribute the workload across the entire chest.


Surge applies this same concept in this week’s LEG track of the week “The Greatest” during the lunge combination move. On the first portion of the movement, your body is aligned for a regular back lunge with your shoulders, back hip and knee all stacked in a line. This upright alignment targets the quadricep muscle. On the second portion of the movement, the angle of the hip joint shifts back so your torso is now angled towards the floor.  This angle change elongates the gluteus maximus muscle, making the movement more glute focused rather than quad focused.


Understanding how angle changes affect muscle activation allows for targeted weight training that aims to build strength, increase muscle size, improve muscular endurance, and prevent overuse injuries.  




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