6 Workout Moves You’re NOT Doing — But Should Be

One of the biggest gym mistakes is only training your “mirror muscles” — you know, the ones you can stare in the mirror (abs, anyone?). But, there are plenty of muscles that are essential to your overall health as well as your physique. Just because you can’t see it, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t train it. 

Why? Because each major muscle also has a counterpart (for example, your bicep has the tricep, and your quad has the hamstring), as well as numerous smaller, stabilizing muscles. All of these help improve your overall strength, explains fitness expert Shannyn Alexander,instructor at FLEX Studios in NYC and creator of the routine you’re about to read. When you just focus on just the primary muscles, they may become stronger than the rest, causing an imbalance, which can lead to poor posture and chronic pain. Here’s how to feel better and look better by training the six muscles you may not know about, but should. 

1-a

1. Standing Calf Raises

Forgotten Muscles Targeted: Calves (Gastrocnemius, Soleus)

Start standing with your feet hip-width apart, and hold a dumbbell (5-10 lbs.) in each hand with your palms facing in towards your body.

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1-b

Keeping your abs tight and shoulders rolled down and back, lift your heels as high as you can. Pause, then slowly lower back to the ground. Do 2-3 sets of 20 reps.

2-a

2. Lateral Sliding Lunge

Forgotten Muscles Targeted: Inner Thighs (Adductors)

Stand with both feet facing forward and hands clasped together in front of your chest. Place a towel (or paper plate) under your left foot.

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2-b

Slide your left foot to the side while hinging at the hips, sitting into a deep, squat-like position. Keep your weight in your right leg, your core tight, and your spine long. Then, push through your right foot to return to standing and slide your left foot back in towards your body. Do 2-4 sets of 10-12 reps on each side. 

3-a

3. Plank Holds with Hip Extension

Forgotten Muscles Targeted: Lower Back (Erector Spinae, Multifidus, Quadratus Lumborum)

Start in a forearm plank position with feet hip-width apart and shoulders directly over the elbows. Keep your abs tight and spine long, extending through the crown of your head and pushing through your heels.

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3-b

Without letting your hips rise or sink, lift your left foot a few inches from the floor. Pause, then return your foot to the floor. Alternate sides with each rep and continue for 30 seconds. Rest, then do another set.

4-a

4. Dead Bug

Forgotten Muscles Targeted: Transverse Abdominis

Lie face-up with your arms extended toward ceiling and your legs in the air, bent at 90 degrees.

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4-b

Slowly lower your left arm and your right leg until they hover above the floor. Be sure to keep your lower back flush against the floor. Alternate sides with each rep. Do 2-4 sets of 10-12 reps on each side.

5-a

5. Dumbbell Raises

Forgotten Muscles Targeted: Upper Back (lower trapezius, rhomboids)

Stand with your feet hip-distance apart, with a slight bend at your knees, and hinge forward. Hold a light dumbbell (between 2 and 5 lbs.) in each hand, with your arms hanging straight down in front of you.

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5-b

Raise your arms up and overhead, slightly wider than shoulder-width. Your thumbs should be facing up, and you should be creating a Y-shape with your body.

5-c

Return to start position. Then, raise your arms out to the sides at shoulder-level, with your thumbs facing up, so that you create a T-shape with your body. That’s 1 rep. Do 2-4 sets of 10-12 reps.

Make it easier: Lie face-down on the floor and do the exercises without weights. Be sure to keep your forehead on the floor and your thumbs pointing up.

6-a

6. Dumbbell Farmer’s Walk 

Forgotten Muscles Targeted: Forearms

Grab a pair of heavy dumbbells (start with 8-15 lbs.) and let them hang naturally at arm’s length next to your body. Be sure that you’re standing tall with your shoulders rolled down and back.

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6-b

Keep a tight grip and start to slowly walk forward. Be sure to keep your abs tight and spine long. The dumbbells should remain next to your body and should not swing while you’re walking. Do 2-3 sets of 45-second walks.

Tip: If you can hold for more than 60 seconds, use heavier weights.

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