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The muscles of the arms and legs power lifting, walking, climbing, running and a variety of additional activities of daily life. You can improve the strength of these muscles by incorporating resistance training into your exercise regimen. Check with a physician if you have a chronic condition before beginning a new routine. While you can't expect miracles overnight, after several weeks of regular strength training you should begin seeing an improvement in muscle tone, strength and size.
One of the most common biceps exercises is the curl. Hold one weight in each hand, palms facing out. Stand straight, with your legs together. Tuck your abs and glutes. Keep your arms tight to your sides as you bend your elbows and raise your palms to your shoulders. Squeeze your biceps at the top, and slowly unbend your arms until they are straightened. Don't lock out your elbows at the bottom of the motion. Beginners should try holding a weight that tires the muscle after one set of 12 to 15 repetitions. As your strength improves, you can up the weight and increase the number of sets.
The dip works the triceps as well as the shoulders. Sit on a chair or a bench and place your palms face down at your sides. Straighten your legs and your back and shift off the bench so that you are supporting yourself by your palms and heels. Keep your shoulders away from your ears as you lower yourself to an elbow bend of 90 degrees and exhale as you push yourself back up. Do not let your back wander far from the bench, because that increases your risk of shoulder injury. If you find the move too difficult, shift your heels closer to the bench. Make it more difficult by lifting one leg. At first, try performing eight to 12 repetitions.
The leg extension effectively works this muscle group located on the front of the thigh. Adjust the machine so the axis of rotation aligns with your knees and the ankle pad falls just above the top of the foot. Start by lifting only one or two plates -- you can always add more weight if necessary. Sit with your lower back pressed into the pad, lightly grasp the hand rails, place your feet behind the ankle pad and extend your legs until they are nearly straight. Do not lock out your knees. Bend your legs and lower the weight gently. If your back or thighs come off the pad, lower the weight, but increase it if your feet come up quickly. Try 15 repetitions.
The prone hamstring curl works similarly to the leg extension. Adjust the machine so that its movable joint aligns with your knees, choose a light weight and lie face down on the pad. Place your ankles underneath the pad, lightly grasp the handlebars and relax your head, neck and shoulders; slowly bend your knees until they come to 90 degrees. Lower your legs slowly until they are nearly straight. If your hips rise off the pad, lower the weight; if your legs rise too easily, increase it. Your hamstrings should feel fatigued after 12 to 15 repetitions.