There are 1000’s of different ways you can go about working out all of the different muscle groups. You can use different exercises, different tempo’s, different equipment (barbells, dumbbells, band etc.), or even different angles. In this blog I want to highlight 4 exercises (routines) that are commonly known, but often seem to be forgotten in a lot of the fitness programs today. The reason I want to highlight these 4 exercises is because we can all benefit from doing them, not just aesthetically butwhen it comes to symmetrical body shapes, body positioning, core strength/stability, relief or back pain and so much more.
I will highlight an exercise for each of the following muscle groups:
- lower back and glutes
- upper back and lats
- shoulders and traps
- core and abdominals
none of these exercises are focused on just one muscle group, but these are the main ones that will be used.
The glute bridge – lower back and glutes
The glute bridge series is a highly underestimated exercise. A lot of people in today’s world struggle with lower back problems, even people who workout regularly. One of the reasons for that is because we don’t know how activate our glute properly to take pressure of our lower back while we’re moving or working out. Another reason could be that your glutes are underdeveloped.
The great thing about glute bridges is that you can use any equipment, no equipment, do them anywhere you want to and the impact on your body is minimal. You could use weights to make it harder, so you don’t have to add in a lot of volume, you can use a resistance band around the knees to activate your glutes more or you could even make it a single leg movement to switch things up. The glute bridge is obviously focused on developing the glutes but it will also require some core strength. It reliefs pressure of your lower back as well.
pendlay rows – upper back and lats
The pendlay row is a variation of the standard bent over row that we unfortunately don’t see too often. The benefits of pendlay row include no movement from the legs, we hit a deadstop point on every rep which forces us into full range of motion and use of core strength. I think the reason why we don’t see this movement more often is because it’s a little bit more difficult to get it right and it does require some mobility in the hamstring to get yourself into position.
All row variations are a great way to develop your upper back/lat muscles, whether that’s with a vertical or horizontal row. I like to add this one in every once in a while because of the reasons I named above and it’s a good to keep mixing things up.
”Bulletproof shoulders” – shoulders and traps
This might be the least well known ”series” of exercises on this list and I don’t understand why. The movements are easy to perform, they are low impact, you can do them anywhere, they will hit the small muscles like no other movement will and it does not take a lot of time to get a good couple sets in.
bulletproof shoulders is not just one exercise but a series and they can all be used in different ways. You can do them while standing up, laying down on a bench or the floor. You don’t need any weights in order to make them harder because they are hard enough as it is, but it’s possible to use small weight plates, dumbbells or resistance bands. The target area for these movements is the muscle group called the trapezius (better known as ”the traps”). the trapezius runs from the top of the neck/shoulder down toward the middle of your back. These muscles are a lot bigger/longer than most people realize. It’s also a muscle group that we don’t work on very often but it’s very important and beneficial when we do. Developing these muscles will help you with overhead stabilization, pressing movements and overall shoulder health.
Dead bugs – Core and abdominals
Just like the glute bridges, the dead bug is a highly underrated exercise. It’s another great exercise to help relieve some of the tension in your lower back and it will also teach you how to shift your hips forward to get your body in a better position.
This exercise is definitely harder than it looks and that’s why I think a lot of people are going about it the wrong way, or even avoid it. The movement is focused on keeping your lower back on the ground while keeping tension in the midline (your core muscles). We want to bring our knees right over the hips, knees in a 90 degree angle, arms straight over the shoulders and shoulder blades off the ground to get that midline tension going. the last part is super important, if you don’t lift your shoulder blades off the ground you’re not allowing for core engagement. When we extend opposite arm and leg our body position doesn’t change, shoulders should be lifted off the ground while the lower back is pressed into the ground. When you do this well and controlled you can challenge yourself by bringing your knees a little bit further away from the hips.
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