Every muscle in the human body plays an important role in movement, especially when it comes to sports. Yet, many athletes do not treat every muscle with the same importance when they are working out. Glamour muscles, like the chest and biceps, garner most of our attention, while smaller, stabilizing muscles are neglected.
This can lead to muscular imbalances, which don’t just make you look disproportionate, they can also increase your risk of injury. Here are three commonly overlooked muscle groups, and what you can do to strengthen them:
When it comes to weight training, many people neglect their legs entirely. Those who do exercise their legs tend to have quad-dominant workouts built around squats, lunges, and leg extensions. While these exercises may stimulate the hamstrings indirectly, it is not enough. Strong quads and weak hamstrings put uneven pressure on the knee, leaving it susceptible to injuries. Make sure you set aside time for hamstring curls or Romanian deadlifts on your next leg day.
The rhomboids are a group of muscles in your upper back, located in between the shoulder blades. Common back workouts such as pull-ups and rows fail to stimulate the rhomboids, and underdevelopment can ruin your posture and cause shoulder injury. Face pulls are a great way to work this muscle group: attach a rope to a pulley station at chest level; grasp the rope with your arms extended; retract your shoulder blades and pull the rope towards your face, while rotating your shoulders so your knuckles face the ceiling. Repeat for three sets of twelve reps.
The tibialis anterior is a small muscle that runs along your shin bone. Working out the tibialis anterior is an effective way to prevent shin splints and other lower leg pains. To strengthen this muscle, sit on a chair with your feet flat on the floor. Lift your toes, keeping your heels firmly planted. Repeat this for 8-10 reps, 2-3 times per week. To increase the challenge, place a small dumbbell on your foot for added resistance.
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