When you hit the gym, you’re looking at strengthening a few core muscle groups. For example, there are many training regimens designed to work out your stomach and abdominal muscles so you can get a flat, healthy look. Many other routines focus on giving you bulging biceps or toned thighs.
The trouble is that all of those muscles are connect to the others in your body –including the muscle groups you tend to ignore.
By ignoring particular muscle groups, you:
- Fail to live up to your fitness potential
- Sabotage the full success of the muscles you do target
- Are at greater risk or injury or strain
Neglected muscles aren’t as equipped for everyday tasks. The over-compensation required to perform your usual targeted muscles can even inhibit them from getting fully strengthened!
That’s one of the reasons why full body workouts are important. Full body routines help to keep commonly ignored muscles in shape too. Targeting under-appreciated muscles can be even more helpful and improve your overall health, though.
Learn how to work out ignored muscles using these exercises:
1. Your Lower Back
Although many exercise regimens claim to be good for your back, many focus more on the center and upper back. Tied to the muscles that sit, stand, bend, and twist, your lower back muscles bear a lot of weight and strain. As a result, many people suffer from lower back pain.
Keep your lower back muscles fit by performing these exercises:
- Sit ups, not curl ups, so that your back has to stay straight.
- Weighted lunges, especially variations that involve twisting at the hip.
- Yoga poses like the downward dog or tiger push.
2. Your Shoulders
Every time you pull a drawer open, lift a book, shake a hand, or reach for the ketchup, you’re moving your shoulders. In fact, shoulders get used so often every day and strengthened at the gym so rarely that pain in the area is common. Most people simply mistakes problems and pains in their shoulders for upper back or neck pain.
By strengthening the muscles around and between your shoulders, you help to improve your posture, equip your upper body for better lifting, and reduce back pains that are likely to worsen as you age. Plus, you’ll reduce your risk of common shoulder injuries.
- Plank and perform plank variations that target the upper back.
- Complete pushups daily.
- Perform weight lifting exercises face down so that the shoulders get more of a workout.
3. Your Forearms
For most people, having toned and sculpted forearms is not a top priority. Forearms don’t get flabby very easily and often look toned naturally. Unfortunately, when you fail to actually focus on strengthening your forearms, you set yourself up for having weaker biceps and you prevent yourself from having the strength to complete basic tasks, like opening jars or typing for a long time without pain. Think about it: you never “exercise” your forearms, but you use them practically all day!
So, get to work building up your forearm muscles:
- Perform triceps extensions to extend and stretch.
- Try tricep dips to get your muscles to contract and expand, breaking down and building up stronger muscles.
- Use specific variations of planks, pushups, and yoga poses that focus on the triceps.
4. Your Hips
Every time you take a step or lean back into a seat, you are using your hips. Some of the most hard-working joints in the body, the hips are composed each of a ball, socket, and several muscles. Those muscles are connected to your lower back, your legs, your butt, and your pelvis. However, how many times have you performed a workout to strengthen your hips?
Chances are: never. Most people don’t even realize that you can stretch and strengthen your hips specifically. In fact, for most people, strengthening the hips is reserved for physical therapy after suffering from one of the most common hip injuries.
To get a proper hip exercise in, try:
- kicks, focusing on kicking each leg in every direction to get a full range of stretches
- Using resistance training bands to strengthen and loosen up tight hips.
- Squats are great for your hips, especially when you perform variations like side squats and lunge squats.
5. Your Neck
You probably only think about exercising your neck when it’s sore. Strengthening your neck on a regular basis will help to prevent that soreness and tightness. Plus, when your neck is strong and healthy you can work your shoulders, arms, and upper body more effectively.
Improve your neck strength:
- Look for yoga poses that require you to hold your head in certain positions.
- Resistance exercises like lying face down with your hands behind your head and pushing your head back as far as you can against your hands.
- Stretch your neck, being sure to pull and roll it in all directions.