Walk into any commercial gym around the world and most of the time you will see people training these typical muscles:
These are also known as the mirror muscles.
While they are important muscles, people need to start putting a lot of emphasis on the muscles listed below if they don’t already. From head to toe I will be revealing my personal top 5 list of underrated muscles that people need to start getting familiar with in a hurry!
Besides looking cool and commanding respect, the neck plays an essential role in protecting your head from concussions in sports or everyday activities.
Strong necks can:
- Improve forward head posture
- Increase all of your lifts
- Save someone’s life in fights or serious accidents
- Demonstrate the power look, which looks manly and commands respect
Not to be mistaken for the trapezius muscles, the neck must be hit directly. This is one of the few muscles that I actually do isolate.
Exercises for building a big strong neck and separating you from the “pencil necks”
Rear neck extension (with neck harness)
Forward neck flexion (weight on forehead)
These are some of the best exercises to start off with and should be done in high (20+) and very controlled reps. The neck is also a relatively small muscle group so it can be trained 2-3 times per week on average. Ease into it at first and don’t start off with a lot of weight so your body can slowly adapt to neck training.
2) REAR DELTS
Rear deltoids are a very underrated muscle group that people should focus on. With all of the pressing movements we do for chest and shoulders, we need to have strong rear deltoids to balance everything out. Strong rear deltoids will protect your shoulders from injury and balance out all of the pressing.
Benefits of strong rear deltoids are:
- Improved posture
- Appearance of a wider physique
- Complete back development
- Healthy shoulders for short and long term
The best exercise for the rear delts is the almighty Deadlift. If you get good at the deadlift and can lift some decent weight. Then you could start adding in exercises like:
–Face pulls (with cables or TRX)
–Rear delt flys (with dumbbells, cables or TRX)
–Scarecrows (with cables or TRX)
I prefer doing these with the TRX because I like to move my body through space whenever I have the chance.
Forearms have to be some of the most unappreciated muscles. Not only do they look very cool and intimidating, but also you can only lift as much weight as you can hold. The forearm’s function is to help the hand hold heavy weights. Strong forearms can increase all of your lifts, too.
Strong forearm benefits:
- Improved grip strength, which is crucial for any sport or everyday activities
- Increase of weight and strength in all of your lifts
- Increase the overall size of your arms
The best forearm and grip exercises are:
Farmer’s walks: This is the king of all forearm exercises just like how the squat is the king of leg exercises. Farmers help you hold heavy weights to overload the forearms, grip, upper back and core. Very underrated exercise that everybody should be doing and puts wrist curls to shame.
Thick bar training: Most commercial gyms don’t have these, but you can easily buy some FatGripz to make any dumbbell or barbell exercise more challenging. They even fit on TRX exercises. Thick bar training makes exercises put more emphasis on the forearms and grip, which is a good thing if you want strong forearms. Thick bar training is actually good from an elbow health perspective because the more your hand opens up, the more it alleviates elbow pain.
Heavy isometric holds: These are great and also increase your pain tolerance. Hold 2 heavy dumbbells by your side as long as you can for a desired time. They are just like farmer’s walks but you’re not walking.
One of the power core muscles often forgotten are the obliques.
Whenever people talk about their “core”, they think “abs”, but what people need to understand is that the obliques are just as important in having a strong core.
Benefits of strong obliques are:
- Helps improve the lockout (top portion) of a squat or deadlift
- Is CRUCIAL for having a healthy lower back
- Helps balance
- Contributes to having full abdominal development
- Makes abs look aesthetically better
Best Oblique exercises:
1 Arm Farmers Walk/Suitcase Carry: This is a farmer’s walk only done with 1 hand. Your body has to stay upright and stabilize which will be good for the obliques.
Side Planks: These target the obliques VERY well. If you want to make them more challenging, you could add a weight vest or elevate your feet on a TRX. My lower back always loves me after I do these.
I saved the best for last. The glutes are probably the most underrated muscle and is a muscle that you cannot ignore. In the society that we live in and with all of the sitting we do, everybody has weak glutes. Glutes are known as the power muscle and they are one of the strongest muscle groups in the body that can generate the most force.
Benefits of having strong glutes:
- Increase all of your lifts dramatically
- Help generate more force
- Protect from lower back pain
- Make up for all of the sitting we do
- Help avoid a pulled hamstring injury
The best exercises for the glutes are:
Squat and Deadlift Variations: Squats and deadlifts hit the glutes very effectively, especially the back squat and conventional deadlift.
Hip Thrusts and Glute Bridges: These are amazing glute exercises that will put more emphasis on the glutes generating force.
If you’re an athlete or you just like working out, these muscles should definitely be worked. There isn’t anybody that wouldn’t benefit from having a stronger neck, rear deltoids, forearms, obliques and glutes. In the past year I have been putting a lot of emphasis on these muscle groups and exercises above. I feel a lot stronger and I’m staying injury free, which is the key to long term progress. Include some of these in your program and you won’t be disappointed.