Do you know the difference between doing an incline press or a flat one? How about wide grip pulldowns versus a narrow grip? With squats, does it matter if you have a wide stance or a narrow one? These are questions that I encounter daily and the answer is angles and position of a particular body part can make a difference.
This article will deal with some of the basic movements that gym goers execute. Before starting an exercise program consult a physician. I also recommend before you try a new movement to consult a professional trainer to ensure you have proper form.
*Chest presses-when performing a presssing movement, the pectoralis major muscle is the one that is the primary mover. These movements can be done seated or laying on a bench. When a press is executed with the hands and elbows in line with the chest and the bar, dumbbells, machine handles etc... come straight out the main focus is on the mid chest. When pressesing at an incline the upper portion of the pectoral major is incorporated and the lower portion is targeted with a decline movement. A key note with any muscle is that when worked, you work the entire muscle or non at all. While you can focus on the upper part of the pec in the incline movement, the entire muscle is worked.
*Pulldowns-a pulling movement is callsified as one that requires the weight or resitance to be drawn towards the body, or when ythe body is being lifted against gravity in the case of a pull up. The major muscle worked or the latissimus dorsi (lats). Your biceps will be used as well as the muscles in your upper back and shoulders. When pulldowns are executed with a wide grip there is less bicep recruitment and the lats are forced to work more (primarily in the upper portion). When the hands are in a neutral position (palms facing in) the biceps are engaged more and the emphasis is more on the lower lats. When the palms are supinated (reverse grip) the bicep is involved even more and the lower lats are the primary area of the back.
*Squats-the primary muscles are the gluteus maximus, hamstrings, and quadriceps.