For most guys far too much focus goes into the biceps, pecs, and abdominals. You know what we are talking about; the showpiece muscles. While that is all fine and dandy at first, having a strong supporting cast of muscles is what truly makes a body great. This is especially important as you get older and injury concerns mount.
There are a handful of muscles that are extremely important to workout because they provide vital behind-the-scenes support that make your other muscles stand out and also function better. By skipping out on them it means you won’t be creating the best body possible.
So why do people ignore these muscles if they are so important? Mainly it is because these muscles don’t get a lot of press and the exercises you use to strengthen them aren’t as common.
Top 5 Muscles You Need to Work
- Psoas – This is a critical muscle that runs through the hips and acts to stabilize your back. It gets tight and rounded from sitting all day and can easily cause a lower back injury or knee pain when weak. Sit on a bench with legs at a 90 degree angle and hands on your head. Keep the abs tight and raise one leg off the ground bringing the knee halfway towards your chest. Keep your back flat and hold for a five count. Try and do 2-3 sets of 6 reps per leg. Then after doing these sets stretch the hip flexor and lengthen the psoas back out (critical step to loosen it up).
- Levator Scapulae – These muscles run down the neck to your shoulder blades. Strengthening them helps prevent injury and buff up the shoulders. Try single arm cable shrugs. Attach a rope handle to a low pull and grab it with your left hand. Your left shoulder should face the cable while you turn your head to the left. Using a light weight, shrug your left shoulder up while bending your arm then rotate the shoulder back and around. Try and squeeze the shoulder blades together.
- Serratus Anterior – This muscle runs along your ribs and helps with shoulder movement and rotation. Athletes that throw or boxers often have them well developed and a stronger muscle can help with a lot of lifts. To work it, perform incline pushups with your hands on a bench and feet on the ground. Do 2-3 sets of 8 to 12 reps using good form and a slow rep speed.
- Supraspinatus – This is a small muscle on the top of the shoulder that is also part of the rotator cuff. You want to strengthen it to help with overall shoulder stabilization which can help increase lifts like the bench press. Grab a pair of light dumbbells. Raise your arms up, palms facing each other and thumbs up, with the arms out at 30 degree angles until they get to shoulder height. Pause, then slowly lower them. Just 2 sets of 8 to 12 reps can really help strengthen them, but make sure the thumbs are pointed up the entire time.
- Serratus Anterior – These are muscles that run the length of your torso and are vital for stability and pushing strength. To work it, do a form of crunches while supporting a light barbell overhead. Lie in crunch position and hold a weight at arm’s length above your shoulders. Crunch up and hold while pushing the weight up and squeezing the shoulder blades. Do a set for 30 seconds to a minute then rest.