Exercises that involve a hugging motion can be performed with different training aids and equipment -- an exercise ball or a cable machine are possible options. No matter your choice, the technique and movements are similar and many of the muscles worked are the same. Hugging exercises help to strengthen the muscles in your chest, shoulders and arms. The bear hug with an exercise ball is an effective hugging exercise that can be performed at home.
Bear Hug Technique
To perform the bear hug exercise with a ball, stand or sit and hold an exercise ball against your chest with your arms extended around each side of the ball. Place your palms flat against the ball and keep a slight bend in your elbows. While keeping your back straight and head up, exhale, move your arms and hands toward each other, squeeze the ball and pull it in, against your chest as hard as you can. Pause for a count of three and then inhale as you relax the squeeze.
The primary chest muscle targeted in hugging exercises is the pectoralis major, simply referred to as your pecs. This is a fan-shaped muscle, which makes up the bulk of your upper chest. The pecs are instrumental in arm flexion and the action of bringing your arms together across your chest. The pectoralis minor, an assisting muscle, is also involved when you perform a hugging exercise. This is a thin, triangular muscle, which lies underneath the pectoralis major. The pectoralis minor is responsible for moving your shoulder blade forward and downward.
Your biceps, the muscles at the front of your upper arm, act as assisting and stabilizing muscles. When you bend your elbows slightly during the squeezing motion, you engage your biceps. Bending your wrists slightly and moving your palms toward your forearm takes place as you squeeze and pull the ball in against your chest. This motion engages your wrist flexors, a group of six muscles on the underside of your forearm.
Hugging exercises engage your deltoids, a group of muscles that cover the shoulder joint. The group consists of the anterior, lateral and posterior deltoids. Your anterior deltoids, which are at the front of your shoulders, connect your collarbone to the large bone in your upper arm, the humerus. During the hugging motion of the exercise, these muscles work in conjunction with your pecs to rotate your upper arms and move them across your chest while pointing your elbows out to the sides.
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