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Joseph Ciccolo, PhD

Joseph T. Ciccolo, Ph.D., is a Program Director in the Tobacco Control Research Branch (TCRB) within the Behavioral Research Program (BRP) of the Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences (DCCPS) at the National Cancer Institute (NCI). His primary research interests are broadly focused on the efficacy of novel clinical treatments for addiction and mental illness. His specific area of interest has been cigarette smoking cessation in high-risk and hard-to-reach populations. He is particularly interested in mechanisms of change and behavioral strategies that can be used to help smokers quit.

Prior to joining NCI, Dr. Ciccolo was the Principal Investigator of multiple NIH-funded clinical trials, and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biobehavioral Sciences at Teachers College, Columbia University. He also was a regular grant reviewer for the Center for Scientific Review and has served as a Senior Associate Editor and an editorial board member for several scientific journals. To date, Dr. Ciccolo has authored over 70 original scientific papers, reviews, and other publications. After receiving his Ph.D. from The University of Texas at Austin, he completed an NIH-funded T32 postdoctoral fellowship at the Alpert Medical School of Brown University.

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senior woman working out with weights at the gym

Exercise Muscle Groups

Ask the Expert


When lifting weights, do I need to work certain sets of muscles in tandem? For instance, if I work out my back, should I work out my chest muscles, too, so that one doesn't get overdeveloped and affect my posture?


Yes, you should make sure you work complementary muscle groups to ensure uniform development of the body. Bad posture is only one of several issues you can experience by not doing so.

As you work a muscle, such as the chest, the other muscles in your body work to stabilize and support the weight through the range of motion. To get maximum results from the exercise you are performing and to avoid the risk of injury, your stabilizing muscles must be developed equally. In your weekly routine, use the following groups: chest and back; shoulders, biceps and triceps; abdominals and lower back; and a complete upper and lower leg workout.

Women sometimes focus on exercising their abdominal muscles without integrating lower back work. This can produce an unstabilized core, opening the door for lower back injury or chronic back pain. To avoid those woes, integrate four sets on the hyperextension bench, among other lower back exercises, into your abdominal workout. If you exercise at a gym, one of the trainers there can help you choose the right movements.

Finally, it is important to include stretching in your weightlifting routine. Regular weightlifting tightens your muscles, so they need to be stretched to maintain flexibility. I recommend that you stretch between exercises, and also spend at least 15 minutes doing muscle-specific and whole-body stretching once you complete your workout. Yoga can help with this, too.

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