In just about any gym throughout the country you constantly see both guys and girls working the same muscle groups. Of course these muscles are usually upper body muscles and are most noticeable while wearing a bathing suit. The unfortunate thing is that most of these muscles are also the least functional to the human body. Sure calves, biceps and abs look great, but how much do we actually need them?
The muscles that are most ignored are usually the ones that the body demands use from every single day. By over-developing the beach muscle and ignoring the functional ones we begin to develop an asymmetrical body. Certain muscles get too tight and others get too weak, which will eventually lead to a body that is out of whack. An out-of-whack body leads to injuries, pains and aesthetic issues.
Having worked with hundreds of people to develop functional and aesthetically pleasing bodies, I have seen first-hand the types of muscles that consistently get ignored. Even worse, I have watched thousands of meathead guys and girls do millions of curls and calf raises, but have probably seen less than a hundred ever perform a glute bridge. It’s frustrating whenever all the 20-pound dumbells are taken because some guy is doing a few hundred curls. But because I’m a nice guy, instead of getting angry, I’m going to inform you of the top 5 most ignored muscle groups.
5. Glutes (butt)- Sure I see plenty of people doing some variation of a squat, leg press or lunge, but that does not mean they are properly working your glutes. Even worse is when I see people on all fours kicking their legs up in the air. Really! The majority of people are quad- (thigh)- dominant and rarely use their glutes the way they should.
Tips For Fix- Think about squeezing your glutes in just about every single exercise. If you are squatting, you should lead the motion with your hips and keep sitting back in your butt and heels. If it is a lunge, you should be squeezing the glute of the back leg throughout the entire rep.
Exercises For Fix- Glute bridges are fantastic here as well as some type of back extension.
4. Hamstrings- Our hamstring are usually far underdeveloped compared to the quad. A good way to see this is by watching people who have great hamstring flexibility, but will shriek with pain during a quad stretch. Most people do at least a 2:1 quad-to-hamstring ratio when exercising the legs. Part of the problem is people only do hamstring curl machines and do not know of other exercise options.
Tips For Fix- Work the hamstrings through a full range of motion when exercising and start to spend more or equal time on hamstrings when compared to quads.
Exercises For Fix- Stay away from the leg curl machines if you can. Start to perform Romanian Deal Lifts (RDL’s) with both legs and single legs. Glute bridges are also great for this muscle group.
3. Transverse Abdominus TVA- These are some of the the deepest and most important muscles when you are talking about the core. As awkward as it may sound, if you want to locate your TVA’s think of the muscles you squeeze when you are holding in pee. They protect the spine and pelvis and all movement should begin from them. The problem is that we are such an ab-focused culture that people only think about squeezing their abs. This is why you can see people with six-pack abs but terrible stability and balance. They don’t necessarily have control over their spine and hips, but just know how to look good with a shirt off.
Tips For Fix- The hardest thing to do is learn how to feel your TVA being activated. Like I stated earlier, feeling the muscles being used while holding your pee is a start. After that, it is important to learn to activate the TVA when you want/need to.
Exercises For Fix- Believe it or not, kegels can help you to strengthen your TVA. Aside from that, planks, glute bridges and any type of core exercises that involve more movement than a crunch can be effective at developing your TVA. Again, it is important to know how to activate them, otherwise these exercises won’t help much.
2. Scapula- Technically this is not a muscle, but it controls muscles that are extremely important. Many muscles that are in your back, shoulders, neck and even chest attach to or originate in the scapula. I have worked with and seen so many people that have shoulder injuries or pain. The natural reaction is to look straight to the shoulder as the cause of the pain. In many cases the shoulder falls victim to the scapula. Having hyper-mobile or weak scapula will leave you subject to shoulder pain. The majority of people do not look to activate and utilize the muscles in charge of their scapula when working out.
Tips For Fix- Always endeavor to have good posture when you are performing exercises. Lock the scapula back and down when performing any type of upper body exercise. This will teach the scapula to lock in to place and protect the shoulders. This is one of the best workout tips to remember!
Exercises For Fix- I love simple movements such as Y’s and T’s because you can learn to activate your scapula correctly. You should feel the pinching in middle of your back at the bottom of your scapula when performing these exercises. If your traps and shoulders are tense and up in your ears, chances are that you aren’t utilizing your scapula correctly. The scapula are similar to the TVA in that you have to learn the feel for them.
1. Glute Medius- While this is a tiny muscle that pretty much has no direct aesthetic appeal, it is extremely important. At the top outside edge of your butt is where you can locate these little guys. We as humans have evolved to operate against the way we were created to operate. Do you think that sitting for the majority of our day was ever in the plans for humans? Most personal training tips will say hips are probably the most important part of the body, yet one of the most ignored. So many back, shoulder and knee issues originate because there is a problem with the hips. One big issue is that our glute mediuses are very weak. This causes your pelvis (hips) to tilt forward and put strain on some muscles, while making others weak from being underutilized. This causes us to become very tight in the hip flexors and very weak in the hip extenders (glute medius).
Tips For Fix- Start doing exercises at the start of your workout to activate the glute medius. Once you begin to feel your glute medius working, you will be able to use them during the workout. Plus, the body does a much better job of using muscles that are already “turned on” as opposed to waking up others.
Exercises For Fix- My favorie exercises for the glute medius are different variations of mini band walks. You will feel these in the glute medius right away and I can promise they will burn.
I know that these are not your “sexy” muscles, which is why they most frequently get ignored. But if I told you that they can help your sexy muscles look even more sexy, how would you feel about that? It is extremely important to get these muscles working if you hope to stay healthy and moving correctly. The good thing is that most of them can be worked on in a few minutes at the start of your workout or utilized while doing your typical exercises.
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