自分の足で歩き、若々しさのキープに必須!太ももの筋肉とは

太ももの筋肉の種類

筋トレに励んでいる方には、トレーニングの効果を高めるためにも太ももの筋肉を鍛えることがおすすめです。太ももの筋肉は全身の筋肉のなかでも最も大きな筋肉と言われており、この筋肉が発達することで、全身の筋肉量もアップし必然的に代謝が上がります。人間の基礎代謝の4割は筋肉が消費すると言われており、筋肉量をアップさせることは代謝の良い身体づくりには欠かせません。

太ももの筋肉には「大腿四頭筋(だいたいしとうきん)」と「ハムストリングス」という大きく2種類の筋肉があります。まず大腿四頭筋は、「大腿直筋」「外側広筋」「中間広筋」「内側広筋」という4つの筋肉の総称です。日常生活では、膝を伸ばす動作の時に使われており、4つともはたらきが同じであることから総称として呼ばれています。この大腿四頭筋は、筋トレによって比較的発達しやすい筋肉です。スポーツ選手などで、太ももが発達している方がありますが、これは大腿四頭筋にしっかり筋肉が付いている場合が多いです。次にハムストリングスは、太ももの裏側に位置する筋肉のことです。こちらは「半腱様筋」「半膜様筋」「大腿二頭筋」の3つの筋肉の総称としてこう呼ばれています。大腿四頭筋とは異なり、膝を曲げる時に使われる筋肉で、筋トレなどをしても発達しにくいのが特徴です。

 太ももの筋肉を鍛えるメリットとは?

太ももの筋肉のトレーニングには、比較的ハードなメニューが多くあることから、筋トレ初心者は避ける傾向があるようです。女性の場合は「太ももは細く保ちたい」といった理由もありますし、男性の場合には「脚の筋肉は目立たないので後回し」というケースもあるようです。たしかに、脚のトレーニングをしっかり行うと、その後2~3日は強い筋肉痛を感じてしまったり、気分がすぐれないこともあるようです。しかし、太ももの筋肉を鍛えるメリットも実はたくさんあります。

まず、太ももの筋肉は膝の曲げ伸ばしに必要な筋肉なので、太ももの筋肉が発達することによって下半身のバランス感覚が整うようになります。スポーツや筋トレをする際にも、よりスムーズで安全に行えるようになります。また太もものような大きな筋肉を鍛えることは、血液の循環を良くすることにもつながります。特に下半身は、重力の影響により巡りが悪くなりがちなので、太ももの筋肉を鍛えることはとても有効です。また、太ももの筋肉のトレーニングというのは、実は太ももの筋肉だけを鍛えているのではなく、全身運動をしていることと同じです。これは他の筋肉においても同じことですが、特定の部分の筋トレは、その部分だけでなく全身を鍛えることにもつながります。さらに、太ももの筋肉トレーニングは、成長ホルモンをたくさん分泌してくれるので、筋肉が付きやすく脂肪が付きにくい身体づくりには欠かせません。最後に、年配の方の場合は特に、年を取っても自分の足で歩ける身体を保つ上でも大切です。昔から「足腰が丈夫な人は長生きする」とも言われていますが、これは最近の研究結果でも同じことが示されています。ぜひ、太ももの筋肉を鍛えて年をとっても若々しい身体を保ちましょう。

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