Pump Quiz: Work Your Brain To Build Your Brawn

May 29, 2012

By Bill Geiger, MA 1) Taking a wider than normal stance on the leg press puts additional stress on which muscle fibers of the legs? A) Quads B) Hams C) Inner Thighs D) Outer Thighs   2) Bodybuilders commonly include lying leg curls in their hamstrings workouts to target the rear thighs. What’s the benefit of also doing seated leg curls? WorkBrain_Leg_Curl A) They work the inner hamstring region better. B) They hit the outer hamstring region better. C) There's no difference in muscle activation.                 3) When squatting in a Smith machine, you can use not only a traditional stance in which your feet are directly under your torso but also one in which your feet are positioned farther out in front. What’s the benefit of using the feet-forward position? WorkBrain_Squat A) It works the quads more strongly. B) It works the Glutes and Hams more strongly C) There's no difference in muscle activation.  


1) While a shoulder-width stance with your toes pointed slightly outward hits all areas of the quad fairly evenly, adjusting your foot position enables you to emphasize certain areas. If you keep in mind this important training tidbit – a muscle that’s able to get a better stretch is capable of contracting more strongly – you’ll realize the wide foot position hits the inner thighs to a greater degree. Hence answer C is correct. 2) The hamstrings are composed of three major muscles: The biceps femoris, which is the outer muscle, the semitendinosus and the semimembranosus, which make up the inner portion of the hamstring. When you’re doing a lying leg curl, your legs are relatively straight in relation to your torso. Research shows this body position causes the biceps femoris (outer hamstring) to get more emphasis. However, when you’re doing seated leg curls, your legs are bent at the hips about 90 degrees in relation to your torso. This position stretches the semitendinosus and semimembranosus — the inner hamstrings — with better success, enabling them to contract harder. So answer A is correct. 3) You should always vary your training, incorporating various versions of an exercise to continually shock your muscles. With Smith squats you can shift the emphasis from set to set or workout to workout. Research shows when your feet are placed 18 inches in front of you on Smith squats, the quad activity is diminished, placing the greatest emphasis on the hams and glutes. Answer B is correct. Excerpted from the July 2012 issue of MuscleMag – now on sale!