You probably know all the major muscle groups and work them out when you are at the gym. But, while that’s a good start, there is more to lifting weights than just working out the big muscles that will look good when you check yourself out in the mirror. There are smaller, lesser-known areas of your body that are easy to forget about.
Everybody wants to have those pecs that pop or biceps that bulge. And while we’ll never tell you to stop focusing on those areas completely, how about spreading some of the weight lifting love around? Not only will focusing on other muscle groups improve your functional strength, it can also help you avoid imbalances that throw off your body’s symmetry and can lead to injuries. Here are three muscles you might be forgetting at the gym.
Why you need to keep them strong: Calf muscles can help stabilize your ankles and feet, helping prevent twists, sprains and other injuries to those areas.
Strong calf muscles will most benefit runners and others who participate in sports. Not only will they give your movements added strength, working out your calf muscles helps reduce your risk of pulling your calf, one of the most common injuries runners suffer. Focusing on them also has aesthetic benefits. Strong, muscular calves will help you avoid the dreaded “chicken legs” look that most people find undesirable.
What you can do: Calf raises are a good start. Stand on the edge of a step as your heels hang off it, then lift and lower your heels. Three sets of 12 are all you need.
Why you need to keep them strong: Strong forearms make it easier to open jars, for starters. Forearm exercises can improve grip strength, too.
While it’s difficult to find ways to strengthen your forearms, doing so will improve your grip and make it easier for you to carry things. Strong forearms will help you complete other lifts at the gym as well, since you will be able to grip heavier weights. You might also want to remember that your forearms are likely to be exposed more than other muscles, so you should want them to look good as they are almost always on display.
What you can do: Reverse barbell curls can help. Instead of grabbing the underside of the barbell with your palms facing up, grab it from the top, palms down. Then proceed to do a normal curl.
Why you need to keep them strong: Strong traps will bring stability to your shoulders.
A good shoulder-and-back workout should include your traps, but a lot of people forget about focusing on these beyond the simple shoulder shrugs. Strong traps not only help you reduce the risk of shoulder injuries; they will give your upper body a nice symmetry, and will make your shoulders stand out more.
What you can do: Incline bench dumbbell shrugs are a good way to blast your traps. Sit on an incline bench with your face towards it (so sit backwards on it), and with your arms off to the side, holding the weights. Perform a shoulder shrug from this position.
Your goal should be to mix these muscle groups into your normal routines. For instance, on leg day you should also do one or two lifts focusing on your calves, while forearms can be done on a day you also work your biceps. The end result should be improved strength that will allow your body to better avoid injury.
Want some tips on how to get your body in peak physical condition? Need some advice on how to enhance your workout? Contact our team of fitness experts today for all the pointers and info you need.