Everyone has favorite foods, music, and movies. Some folks also have favorite exercises that remain their go-to activity for years. It’s great to find a workout that you enjoy, especially since so many people struggle to work enough physical activity into their days. The problem with always resorting to the same movements or lifts is that you miss out on working a lot of important body parts. STACK explained that muscle imbalances occur in different parts of the body for different athletes, but they all impact your performance. In some cases, an extreme imbalance can lead to injury. These five muscles happen to be some of the most neglected. Incorporate some new moves that target these areas, and you’ll be stronger and a lot less likely to suffer an injury.
Gym rats love to work their arms and get the buffest biceps. There’s definitely nothing wrong with that, as long as you don’t forget about the lower half of your arms. Bodybuilding.com said focusing on this muscle group is important for aesthetic and practical reasons. Unless it’s colder than 20 degrees outside, your forearms are likely on display pretty frequently. But looks aside, the article said that developing forearm strength is critical for a good grip that has plenty of real world applications from opening stubborn jars to fighting off an assailant.
Unlike larger arm muscles, forearms don’t get any fancy machinery dedicated to them. Muscle and Fitness said you can strengthen forearms with compound lifts that also target larger muscles, but they also recommended some isolation moves that target these muscles individually. A dumbbell wrist curl is a good place to start. Sit on a bench and rest your forearm on the surface between your thighs with your wrist just extended beyond the edge of the bench. You can also rest your arm directly on top of your thigh. Holding a dumbbell, let it roll down toward your fingers, then curl it back up as you flex your wrist. Livestrong’s video does a great job of demonstrating how to perform this move.
Women will do endless squats to get a perfectly lifted butt. For some reason, guys don’t seem to give nearly as much attention to their backsides. Men’s Health explained that hours of sitting at work every day can weaken your glutes even more. That might not sound like a big deal, but the article explained this can cause your gut to stick out and put too much pressure on your spine. Runner’s World said those who like to pound the pavement should be particularly wary of ignoring this muscle group, because weak glutes are often behind injuries ranging like achilles tendinitis and runner’s knee.
DailyBurn recommended trying one-legged hip thrusts to target your rear-end. Lay your upper back against a bench with your arms running horizontally along the sides, and plant your feet in front of you, knees bent at 90-degree angles. Lift your left leg up, keeping your knee bent at the same angle, until your shin runs parallel to your right thigh. Lower your hips until they’re just a few inches above the ground, then push through your heel all the way up until your hips are even with your shoulders. Clench your right glute at the top of the move. Start with about two sets of six repetitions on each leg, and increases as you get stronger. Check out the accompanying video if you’re confused on how to begin, because it also highlights a few common mistakes.
As far as leg muscles go, most guys seem to give all of their attention to their quads since they’re front and center. But ignoring you hamstrings, the group of muscles that runs along the backside of you upper legs, isn’t a good idea. The Houston Chronicle discussed how these muscles are crucial for boosting speed and aiding knee stability. If you’ve struggled with knee injuries in the past, weak hamstrings may be the culprit.
Using a stability ball is one of the best ways to work on strengthening these leg muscles, because you can use it to do a number of different moves. Active.com demonstrated three of their favorites: Beginners should start with the hamstring hold. Start by lying on the ground with your arms at your sides and your heels firmly planted on top of the stability ball. Keeping your stomach tight, raise your hips off the floor so your lower body is forming a straight line from heels to hips. Raise one leg off the ball, and use the other leg to balance. Hold the move for three seconds. Aim for three sets of 15 on each leg. You can move on to the other exercises, and variations, as you get stronger.
4. Tibialis Anterior
Plenty of athletes have suffered from shin splints, a painful sensation along the front of your lower leg. Frequently, a change in training or increase in activity is to blame. In some instances, the pain stems from a stress fracture that could lead to a broken bone. In many cases, though, the issue is a weakness in the tibialis anterior. Livestrong explained that very few programs specifically target this muscle, which is a shame as it’s crucial for walking and running.
Men’s Fitness suggested performing a simple exercise two to three times per week to help strengthen this small muscle. With feet flat on the floor, sit in a chair. Keeping your heels planted, raise your toes straight up as high as they can go, then lower back to the floor. Repeat up to 10 times. If the move is too easy, try adding weights. Start small, though. You shouldn’t need anything heavier than 5 pounds.
5. Serratus Anterior
This small muscle connects your shoulder blades to your rib cage. While it might seem like the good ol’ bench press would do a fine job of working this body part, Men’s Health explained that the support from the bench prevents this muscle from getting much work. You’ll have to modify your routine to make sure that it’s getting enough attention. The article went on to recommend using a barbell set on a rack to perform incline push-ups. Just grip the bar, lower yourself, then push yourself back to the starting position. Perform three sets of at least eight repetitions. Though you’ll need to start with the bar relatively high to perform the move correctly, you can work your way lower as you get better. Eventually, you’ll be doing regular push-ups with perfect form. Check out Men’s Health for a diagram that illustrates this simple move.
Though this muscle runs along the sides of your chest, The Arizona Republic reported it can lead to shoulder injuries if ignored. The article goes on to mention a number of other exercises you can incorporate into your routine. If you’re already experiencing shoulder problems, you’ll want to hold off on these moves until you’re pain free. Adding stress to an existing condition will only exacerbate the problem.