There’s something I like to call “big arms syndrome,” also known as Jersey Shore-itis, Douchebag McArmNChest Guy, or “if I always wear pants and a tank top she’ll think I look jacked” (better not go swimming, buddy.) It is a real epidemic, as pictured below:
Now, to be clear, I am completely aware that the guys on the top look 10000000000 times better than creepy-creepo Russian Vampire GI Joe-Doll Greg Valentino, however both exhibit a ridiculous disproportion between upper body development and lower body… not-development.. hence the humorous display.
So, what do we do about it? This article addresses the importance of training your ENTIRE body, not just for aesthetics and symmetry, but also for maximizing functional utility, immune and other physiological systems, and simply to not look like “that guy.” Because, unfortunately, “that guy” is all to present today. Curls and Bench press for days, no back or leg work.
Why train your entire body?
The Harvard Medical School released an article on the importance of training core, back, and legs, in which they state that working out those major muscle groups promote the following:
- Easier every day acts
- Increased mobility and flexibility
- Decreased back pain with aging
Now aside from what Harvard labels as the “every day benefits” above, training the major back and leg muscles is important for one logical, scientifically obvious reason–these muscles support our entire body! A strong back and legs can help fix posture problems, decrease joint pain, increase metabolism, increase immune system function, increase growth hormone and testosterone–which leads to slower aging and more muscle mass!!– and more. Because the back and leg muscles comprise out largest muscle groups, working them out with significant resistance places the largest amount of stress on our Central Nervous System (CNS), especially compared to the relatively tiny, vanity muscles of the biceps, triceps, deltoids, trapezius, and even chest, and thus triggers our body to becomes stronger. These “vanity” muscles do, of course, have functional use, however the importance of developing back and legs first is largely overlooked, especially by men, who just want “huge guns and a 6 pack.”
Although working out does have a large appeal due to the aesthetic nature of it, we should always, always keep sight of its main benefit: BEING HEALTHY! What does it serve a guy, or girl, to have a ripped 6 pack and awesome arms if they end up with debilitating back pain? What if a 220 lbs guy is so top heavy, with weak legs, that he places undue stress on his knee joints and heels? There are very real health issues with having a disproportionately strong and over-developed upper-body as compared to the lower body.
In summary: Even though you may not like training back, and ESPECIALLY legs (although I have become a leg-lover over time, so it is possible!), the benefits of having a symmetrical, equally developed body run much deeper than simple aesthetics. Training legs and back will help you stay leaner, stronger, and younger due to a measurable increase in testosterone and growth hormone production, and an increase in protein synthesis (muscle building). Basically, training your legs and back will actually help your ENTIRE body, even those arms 😉