Written by Adam Whitlach
WRRFC Head Trainer
For the most part, abs, glutes, shoulders, hamstrings, and calves are typically trained for aesthetic reasons; they look good when lean and sculpted. But is that all they are good for?
I’ve made a list of the three body parts that I think are largely misunderstood and, therefore, ineffectively trained—and why you need to train them regardless of whether you think they look fine the way they are.
For starters, abs are number one on my list because everyone wants them, and they tend to be synonymous with being in shape. Typically, people seeking their coveted 6-pack power through endless rounds of sit-ups, leg raises, and planks. While this does target the correct muscles, the effectiveness is analogous to expecting your legs to develop over time after jogging exclusively. In reality, some may be surprised to know that our abdominals are designed to protect and maintain proper posture. This means a healthy lower back! In a world where many of us spend too much time sitting, lots of crunches and leg raises can actually make our posture even worse. Planks can help but are not the end of the solution. Instead, train your abs to stay solid through a range of motion with squats/deadlifts, farmer’s walks, frame carries, and Pallof press. We all have abs, so if your main concern is being able to see them, your goals should be weight loss.
Hamstrings are next on my list because so many people have tightness, yet little understanding of how train this area. There is usually one exercise used—a leg curl done either seated or standing. But your hammies are crucial for hip extension, not just knee flexion. Therefore, for superior hamstring development as well as improving mobility, the RDL or stiff-leg deadlift is king. Not only will you need to engage your abs to maintain posture, but you will be attacking the muscle from the origin (your butt) instead of the insertion (your knee). I recall what Louie Simmons said: “There’s no such as too strong of hamstrings.”
Lastly, the upper back and neck is an area that is often neglected entirely, partially because people don’t know how to train their neck properly, but also because it looks goofy to attach objects to your head. I mean, just think of your hair! But again, much like the other muscle groups, a majority of these issues stem from sitting too much in cars or at a desk, as your posture slowly warps over time. Left uncorrected, neck, scapular, and shoulder problems as well as headaches can occur as a result. Your neck and upper back should be trained like any other muscle group—with resistance and often. Do your shrugs, upright rows, and face pulls for you upper back while adding resistance with bands or cables to train your neck in all directions. Remember, you neck is still a part of your spine, and it is arguably the weakest part. Train it!
I’ll see you at the club!
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