When you’re training to become an athlete, you need to focus on strengthening your entire body. While some parts may require more strength than others, the smaller muscle groups that come into play should not be neglected. Training different muscles groups gives you more balance and better form. This is what differentiates a great athlete from an average one. Here are 5 muscles that you should never ignore.
Try bending forward and placing your palms on the ground. Chances are that you’ll barely be able to touch the floor. The reason is not belly fat or an inflexible spine but tight hamstrings. You sit on a chair all day which does not your hamstrings. Even lower body exercises focus more on quad-centric movements giving little or no stretch to the hamstrings. Tight hamstrings lead to low-back, knee, and all kinds of chronic pain injuries. Addressing weak, tight hamstrings should be about increasing both mobility and strength.
Recommended Exercise: Squats and Nordic Hamstring Curls
2. Grip Muscles
Grip strength is one of the most overlooked aspects of fitness. Even if you have the strongest back in the gym, without a strong grip, you can’t maintain your hold on the bar and do many reps. The same applies to nearly every sports skill that involves your hands, like throwing a ball or swinging a bat or racquet. If your grip is weak, you simply won’t be able to apply your full strength and power to the movement.
Recommended Exercise: Plate Pinches, Barbell Wrist Curls, Gripper Squeeze
The adductor muscles are a group of four muscles that originate high up near the groin. They help bring your legs toward the center of your body. They also assist in hip flexion and extension. Strengthening your adductors can improve athleticism and greatly reduce your risk of injury. Most common lower-body exercises don’t target the adductors, or they allow for compensation that work around weak adductors.
Recommended Exercise: Isometric Ball Squeezes And Lateral Lunges
To do the Isometric Ball Squeezes, lie on your back and squeeze a soccer ball between your knees as hard as possible for 10-20 seconds in a bridge position.
4. Upper Back
Most athletes and gym regulars work the front sides of their body like biceps and chest, mostly because these are the muscles you see in the mirror. But most of your daily activities keep your hands in front of your body, neck leaning in front of your chest, shoulders rolled up and forward and our backs rounded. Think driving a car, working on your laptop, taking notes in class, or staring at your phone. This hunched position tightens the muscles on the front of your body and lengthens the muscles on the back of your body. You can correct this with an exercise called Batwing Rows.
Recommended Exercise: Batwing Rows
Lay on your stomach on a flat or incline bench. Hold dumbbells or kettlebells directly under your shoulders. If you’re using a flat bench, the dumbbells should be on the floor and your arms should be slightly bent.
Pull your shoulders back and row the weights until your thumbs are in your armpits. Squeeze your shoulder blades together at the top of the movement and hold for a set count. Slowly lower and repeat.
5. Rotator Cuff
The rotator cuff muscles are a group of muscles that stabilize the shoulder. They include the supraspinatus muscle, the infraspinatus muscle, the teres minor muscle and the subscapularis muscle. These muscles are especially critical for baseball players. When you’re putting your shoulder through such aggressive ranges of motion and delivering it at high speeds like you do in baseball, you need a really strong rotator cuff and you need rotator cuff timing.
Recommended Exercise: Cable External Rotations And Side-Lying External Rotations