Research published by the British Journal of Family Medicine found that significant numbers of people involved in strength training neglect whole muscle groups
. Making sure that these muscle groups find their way into your workout is important to experience whole-body strength and health
; there’s an exercise for just about any group to help.
Neck muscles are one such group that don’t receive direct attention. This is for a good reason – many of the most popular lifts that target the upper back and shoulders, such as squats, standing rows and hammer curls, also have the effect of benefiting your neck. However, there can be weakness in the neck from a lack of attention, and according to a study published by Neurology International, this can lead to complications such as dropped head syndrome
When you build the strength and size of muscles and associated tissues, you need to grow other areas equally, or you can risk injury. To give your neck that extra bit of attention, improving posture and reducing pain
in the process, consider undertaking neck strengthening exercises. These are mainly calisthenic, and focus on chin-tucks, neck tilts, stretches, and the back burn.
Middle and lower back
Your middle and lower back are areas that need to be treated with caution during workouts, especially the lower back. However, Men’s Health found that these muscles, and particularly the erector spinae – a bundle of muscles and tendons that run alongside the spine – are under-worked, which leads to posture problems and back pain. You can bring erector spinae workouts into your regimen by using a back extension machine, or a fitness ball if you have a partner to hold your ankles. All you need to complete a proper exercise is to raise your torso, without swinging, until your body forms a straight line. You can add plates later when you have built up your strength.
Medi and minimus glutes
The glutes are an another area that receive a lot of work in the gym. Deadlifts, squats, step-ups, lunges and hip lifts will all help to promote growth in this area, which can improve your overall core strength. However, there are several layers of glute muscle, and you may not always be targeting every level. The benefits are greater strength for pretty much every daily movement and, when toned, a better looking behind. To improve strength in this area, continue as you were with deadlifts, but try a wider-legged stance. Always be careful with your form when adapting your stance like this, and speak to your gym partner or trainer if in doubt. The goal here is to stretch the entire range of muscles across the hip, rather than just the largest set of glute muscles.
Focusing on these lesser-known muscle groups will help to give you a greater, all-rounded level of strength. This, in turn, will help you to look and feel better, and give you a greater sense of vitality. Many of these muscle groups can experience growth with simple calisthenics, but consider ramping up over time to include weight training.