Start Paying Attention To These 4 Important Muscle Groups!
You probably have muscle groups you love to work. It might be your
shoulders, biceps or glutes – but more importantly what muscles are you giving
the “cold shoulder?” If you enjoy working certain muscle groups, you may be
spending more time on training those muscles than you are your least favorite
muscles to work.
Why is this a problem? By focusing more on your favorite muscles, you
creating strength imbalances. Strength imbalances are a problem because they
increase your risk for injury. Strength imbalances also create asymmetry. A
symmetrical, balanced body in terms of strength and development is better from
a structural standpoint and is more aesthetically pleasing as well. Muscles
work together in an integrated manner to help you move. If one muscle is weaker
it throws movements slightly off balance and increases the risk of injury
What muscles are you not working often enough? In terms of muscle balance,
some muscles are more likely to get the “cold shaft” than others. Here are some
of the most commonly neglected muscles.
Chances are you invest more of time working your quadriceps and hamstrings
than you do your calf muscles. Your calf is made up of two muscles
gastrocnemius and the soleus. Strong calf muscles are important if you do
sports that require explosive power like jumping. Always stretch your calf
muscles after every workout to maintain flexibility, especially if you run or
do plyometric exercises that involve jumping.
Fortunately, it’s easy to work your calf muscles by doing standing or
seated calf raises. The results you’ll get from working your calf muscles will
vary. Some people develop calf muscles more easily than others based on
genetics. Even if you don’t develop noticeably defined calves, you can still
strengthen them for greater muscle balance and symmetry. Why should your quads
and hamstrings get all the attention? Add some calf raises, with or without
weights, to your lower body routine.
The obliques are another group of neglected muscles for some people. The
oblique muscles, made up of the internal and external obliques, are muscles on
each side of your rectus abdominis. Why do you need to work them? They give
your lower back support and help to improve your posture. Plus, your obliques
come into play as stabilizers when you do other types of lifting movements.
Two of the best exercises for working your obliques are oblique crunches on
a mat or a stability ball and side planks. Don’t let your obliques be an
afterthought. Side bridges and Russian twists also target your oblique muscles.
For overall core balance, don’t make your obliques an after thought.muscle
Lower Back Muscles
When you work your abdominal muscles and obliques, save some focused
attention for your back. By zeroing in on your abdominal muscles without
training your lower back muscles, you create a core imbalance that increases
your risk for injury and back pain. After all, back muscles are part of your
core. When you focus on abdominal exercises without balancing things out with
lower back exercises, your core becomes “off-balance,” being stronger on one
side than the other. Your goal should be core symmetry. Plus, strong back
muscles provide the support you need to train other muscles harder by
supporting your spine. When your spinal stabilizers are weak it affects your
posture. This places added stress on your vertebrae. Not to mention strong back
muscles reduce your risk for back pain.
How can you give your lower back muscles more love? Balance abdominal
exercises with “supermans.” To do this, lie on your stomach and lift your
shoulders off the floor as high as you can. Hold for a few seconds before
releasing. Repeat until you can’t do anymore. Deadlifts are another good
exercise for strengthening your lower back muscles.
Forearms you say? Why do I need to work them? Strong forearms reduce
fatigue when you train your biceps and when you do presses. They also improve
your grip strength – perfect if you play racquet sports or if you do pulling
exercises. Having weak forearms can limit the amount of weight you can lift
when working other body parts. Don’t let your forearms limit your development
in other areas.
Among the best exercises for strengthening your forearms are wrist flexion
and extension exercises using weights. When you do biceps curls, add a set of
reverse barbell curls to strengthen the extensor muscles in your forearms.
There’s no need to spend a large amount of time working your forearms, but
don’t ignore them either. They help you maximize the rest of your resistance
The Importance of Total Body Workouts
One way to make sure no muscle gets left behind is to focus more on total
body workouts and compound exercises that work multiple muscle groups. You’ll
also burn more calories doing a greater percentage of compound exercise as
opposed to exercises that isolate a single muscle group. Still, if you already
have muscle imbalances because you’ve ignored certain muscles, you’ll need to
do isolated exercises that target those muscles to create muscle balance.
The Bottom Line
Everyone has favorite body parts that they love to work more than others.
Enjoy training those parts but don’t neglect ones you don’t like to work and
those you deem less important. It’s also about balance and symmetry. Your body
is only as strong and powerful as its weakest link. Make sure your training is
For more information on exercise please contact our fitness
director/certified personal trainer, Noelle Lusardi, at firstname.lastname@example.org. And visit our website www.stepaheadwellnesscenter.com
for our latest weight loss programs and weight loss specials.
ACE Fitness. “Muscular Imbalances Increase Your Clients’ Risk for Injury”