MEN | Frequently Overlooked Muscles

MEN | Frequently Overlooked Muscles

Who wouldn’t want a perfectly toned body?

Well-sculpted physiques jump out at us from billboards, magazine covers and TV screens all day long.

It’s enough to make you green with envy. So, what do we do?  We get ourselves down to our local gym to try and make that dream a reality.

We get some results. The so-called ‘mirror muscles’ are getting pumped. We start to look toned in our abs, biceps, quads, etc.

But something holds us back from getting that perfect body. No matter how hard we try, some parts of our body just look out of proportion.

Don’t worry. This is common. Do you know what causes it?

Overlooking some of those less well-known or forgotten muscles.

This article will help to identify some of those frequently overlooked muscles and give you some exercises and tips on how to incorporate them into your workout routine.

Glutes

Man performing perfect squat in gym

Women are probably better at remembering this muscle group because they pay more attention to the way their posterior looks. A lot of men miss the glutes however as they are not seen as being as important as the shoulder, bicep, abdominal or chest area.

This is a mistake. Most men don’t realise that neglecting the Gluteus Maximus could be hampering their overall workout.

The Glutes are the most important and one of the largest muscle groups.

The area consists of 3 muscles:

  • Gluteus Minimus
  • Gluteus Medius
  • Gluteus Maximus

They provide total movement in the hip area providing a strong posture, enhanced performance and strength.  

We sit on our backsides most of the day if we are working in an office. According to AXA PPP Healthcare (from a poll of 2000 workers):

  • 46% of people spend between 4-6 hrs a day sitting and another 25% spend 6-8 hrs in their chairs!
  • Don’t forget the commute time also, 29% spend at least a ½ hour sitting while commuting, 27% sit down between 30-60 minutes and 17% sit for journeys lasting over 2 hrs per working day.
  • 73% stated that this caused them musculoskeletal problems such as back, shoulder and neck pain.

Strong glutes can help prevent these issues. By training the glute muscles regularly, we improve the level of support to our spine and stabilise our hips for good posture. Speed, acceleration and explosive power are generated in the glutes. Athletes who neglect them often get left behind.

Another point to note is that if we don’t have strong glutes, other muscles take the strain instead, which puts our body into an imbalance and under unnecessary stress.

Here are some quick and easy glute exercises that you can do either in the gym or at home that don't require any specialist equipment:

Squats

  1. Stand with your feet slightly more than shoulder width apart, with toes turned outwards at a slight angle (keeping your feet parallel can create knee injuries).
  2. Roll your shoulders behind and down keeping your spine straight but not hunched
  3. Extend your arms in front with palms facing downwards
  4. Inhale and bend the knees moving your hips backwards (knees are behind the toes)
  5. During this movement keep your chest and shoulders upright and back straight by looking forwards
  6. Engage core and with weight centred over your heels explode upwards to standing position

Variations

Advanced users can use a weight (dumbbell/medicine ball/kettlebell) and hold it in front of their sternum when dropping into the squat.

You can vary the effort by squatting lower than the knees - advanced users can squat on a step box to squat very low.

Donkey Kicks

  1. Get onto all fours with hands shoulder width apart
  2. Flex one knee and move foot slightly off the floor
  3. Lock your knee and lift your leg towards the ceiling
  4. Keep going until your thigh is in a straight line with your back, but don’t extend the thigh further than the torso as this can damage disks in your back
  5. Inhale and flex at the hip and move leg back to starting position
  6. Repeat several times before changing to the other leg.

Upper Back

Man exercising upper back on cable row machine in gym

These days, many of us text, type and hunch over our desks. This puts a lot of pressure on our backs. Press ups, bench presses and frontal exercises seem to be at the forefront of our exercise regime especially when starting on weight training.

However, having a big chest can cause a slight “hunchback” effect if we overlook our rear back muscles. By making the upper back tighter, we open out the chest area giving our pectorals the best chance of looking even bigger.

We should be incorporating upper back muscles into our daily workouts. When bodybuilding, it’s recommended that the rhomboids, deltoids and latissimus dorsi should get the full treatment to stop any imbalance from happening.

“Batwing” Row or Incline Supported Row

  1. Using some light dumbbells to begin with that you can lift (get some guidance first depending on your level)
  2. Get face down on an incline bench set to 45% so your chest is supported by the padded bench
  3. Keep a neutral spine and row using both hands
  4. Hold weights in your hands either side of the bench
  5. Static reps can be held for 10-20 seconds and then released back down
  6. Repeat alternating between left arm up and down, then right arm up and down

Seated Cable Row

  1. Adjust weight to a level that is suitable for you (get some guidance first depending on your level)
  2. Use the metal grip or close grip bar that has hands close together
  3. Sit down and put your feet up on foot pads. Move to a position that gives a slight bend in your knees and neutral spine. Keep your shoulders back and chest out.
  4. Try to keep your shoulder blades close together and grip tightly
  5. Pull your hands toward your torso and breathe out.
  6. Repeat for the required number of reps, depending on your level.

Hip Adductor Muscles

Man in plank position performing plank jacks in gym

These are a group of muscles that sit high up near the groin/inner thigh area.

They come into their own when you bring your legs together or push them away from the middle of the body. Basically, if you want to rotate your hips away or squeeze your thighs together, these are the ones being used.

If you are into Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) then these muscles are used a lot when getting your opponent in a headlock with your legs and squeezing till they “tap out”. Neglecting these muscles in the gym can lead to a lack of agility and increased risk of picking up a groin strain.

One of the only pieces of equipment in the gym that totally isolates them is the seated thigh adduction machine that applies a squeezing motion to your thighs. It is not the most attractive or comfortable exercise to undertake but is certainly worth the effort if you wish to remain injury free.

You can try the other exercises below if your gym doesn’t have this machine or you’re feeling too self-conscious to use it in public.

Plank Jacks

  1. Assume the Plank position supporting your body weight (on your forearms and toes)
  2. Move your feet outwards hopping them away as far as possible from starting position
  3. Quickly hop them back towards the starting position in a straight line.
  4. Repeat this motion for a set period (10-30 seconds) or counting a specific number of ‘hops’.

Lateral Lunges

  1. Stand up straight with your feet shoulder-width apart
  2. Keep your core engaged and step out towards one side with your back in a neutral position
  3. Don’t go so low that your back is rounded, keep it straight
  4. Keep your weight on your heels and descend carefully. You should feel the inside thigh/ groin area being stretched out.
  5. Step back to a standing position
  6. Step outwards on the other foot and repeat, alternating with each rep.

Last but Not least

Calves.

But Calves are more than overlooked, they are all but forgotten - even on Leg Day.  We’ve got an upcoming article devoted to Calves for this very reason. So check back in a couple weeks and we’ll get right into it!

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