Admit it: You’re motivated at the gym by images of sexy arms and washboard abs. Good reasons to hit the weights to be sure—but aesthetics shouldn’t be your only focus if you’re looking to boost your overall fitness.
“So many people concentrate on the areas they want to show off. The problem is, if you continuously work the same spots, you’ll lower your overall strength and fat-burning potential because your routine won’t be varied enough,” according to Mark A., Fitness Manager at the 24 Hour Fitness Carlsbad Sport in Carlsbad, CA. Worse yet, when the lesser-known muscles in your body are weak, you’re more likely to develop an imbalance, which puts you at a greater risk of getting injured.
Over the upcoming weeks, I’ll look at four muscle groups that are commonly overlooked at the gym. You’ll learn why they’re important and how you can make them a priority in your workout routine. First up, the shoulders.
The Forgotten Shoulder Complex
Mark continues, “I see a lot of people working their back, chest and arms but not their shoulders. The surprising result is a weaker back and arms. The shoulder complex is composed of 30 stabilizer muscles that help protect the muscles surrounding it—including the upper back, neck, and arms—you’re not doing yourself any favors by neglecting your shoulders.”
Work It: The Military Press
Start with your feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent, holding dumbbells about chest high. As you exhale, lift the dumbbells above your head so your wrists and elbows are in a direct line above your shoulders. To blast even more calories and work more muscles, do these overhead presses while seated on an exercise ball (pictured) or while doing walking lunges. Just make sure you go light on the weight to prevent injury.