The Muscles You Cannot Ignore

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Training at the gym can get redundant for those that do not have any real goal besides staying in shape.

There is nothing wrong with that being a goal and not everyone is sitting at home wishing they could squat 500 pounds.


Sometimes maintaining or building strength is good enough for some.


It might not be the optimal way to train since there is no motivation to keep going with the program except for general enjoyment with lifting weights.


At the same time it is essential that people are doing something when it comes to lifting weights.


I want to try to help guide you on the things that you should be focusing on.


Most gym sessions consist of training the “beach” muscles. The biceps, pecs, quads, and abs through situps seem to be the favorites.

bicep_curl

It makes sense because these are the muscles that you can see in the mirror.


Someone with the most defined back muscles is not going to see them without multiple mirrors and a wire team.


Everyday training should not focus on these muscles, however.


By all means continue to train them, but they will only provide short term success if they are the only emphasis.


When we overuse one group of muscles compared to another, the opposite muscles (antagonists) become long and weak.


Long and weak muscles are subject to strain because they are not capable of handling the demands that are placed on them.


This is evident in those that have poor posture and shoulder issues, run a lot and have hamstring issues, or sit a lot and have neck issues.


When the muscles are always subject to stretch, they can become injured and sore when asked to do their job.


Always training chest and forgetting about the back causes the shoulders to round forward, creating a kyphotic posture.


The same goes for overused biceps and shoulder pain from overuse. The biceps attaches to the front of the shoulder and can get irritated over time.


There is definitely a trend when it comes to muscles that get tight and those that get long/weak.


No one has a case of overused rhomboids that cause issues in the body.


Dan John created a very simple chart to explain the differences that he has seen.

Tonic-Phasic
The column on the left is the one that needs most of the strength focus. The one on the right is the one that needs less attention to strength and more to tissue work.

When I look at the chart and I think about the exercises that get ignored compared to people’s favorites, it all makes sense.


The column on the left could also be the following:

1. Shrugs
2. Bench/sitting
3. Curls
4. Bench (again)
5. Situps/sitting
6. Sitting
7. Sitting
8. Walking with a heel lift

This is a typical day and exercise routine for most people.


These muscles need more stretching, rolling, and other modalities of tissue work.

Maintaining these areas will help with the overall balance and health of the body.

For the muscles that get weaker category we can address these areas with resistance training.


Rhomboids/midback– Rows, all types of rows. Also practice pulling the shoulders back and down in everyday life.

Triceps/deltoids- Close grip bench is probably one of the better ways to develop these muscles even though it involves the pecs. Landmine variations also fit the bill.

Glute Max– Deadlifts, bridges, and hip thrusts are great for developing the glutes.

Deep Abs/ Obliques– Planks, side planks, and other core stability exercises are the strategy here. Avoid situp and crunching type exercises.

There should probably be a 2 to 1 ratio of the right column to left column.

Maintain strength in the muscles that get weak and maintain mobility in the muscles that get tighter.

This strategy will help you move better, feel better, get stronger, and get leaner.