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7 Ignored Muscles that Hold You Back

Hey there, showoff. If you train only the muscles you can flex in the mirror, you may be sacrificing your progress—and inviting injury.

Are you a flex-happy gym-goer? You know, always trying to get that abdominal V or those big bear traps?

While the showoff muscles get all the acclaim, they'd be nothing without the supporting cast of smaller stabilizers and assisting muscles. Ignore them, experts say—and you'll eventually pay the price. The cost? Injury. Missed workouts. Painful runs. An unbalanced bod.

Wondering if your'e guilty? Here, experts discuss the most neglected muscles, why they're important, and how to strengthen them for an even, injury-free physique.

1. The muscle: rotator cuff

Deltoids the size of grapefruits won't do you much good if you tear your rotator cuff, which is a group of four muscles that literally form a “cuff” to stabilize the shoulder joint. Injure it, and you’ll restrict your range of motion, making overhead movements painful. "Shoulders have the most mobility, so they're also the most unstable," says Tom Holland, MS, CSCS, author of Beat the Gym: Personal Trainer Secrets—Without the Personal Trainer Price Tag. "Keep them strong by taking a 'pre-hab' versus a 'rehab' approach. You typically only see people doing these exercises after they're injured."

Strengthen it: Attach light to medium resistance tubing to a door hinge, then stand with your left side to it, grasping the handle of the tubing with your right hand. Bend right arm at a 45-degree angle to your side (your elbow is at your hip and your forearm is at a 90-degree angle in a handshake position), then rotate your arm at the elbow, pulling the tubing out towards the right side without pulling your upper arm away from your body— like a door opening on a hinge.

Next, stand with your right side towards the door hinge. With your right arm bent at a 45-degree angle next to your side, grasp the handle of the tubing with your right hand and rotate your arm at the elbow, pulling the handle in towards the center of your body. Repeat 10 to 12 times on each side, alternating sides for each set.

NEXT: 6 More Muscles You Ignore

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