It’s easy and satisfying to focus workouts on the tummy, booty and thighs. Those seem to be the biggest trouble spots for women anyway. At the same time, there a few muscle groups that are craving your attention. In fact, working these overlooked muscles will actually make your tummy, booty and thigh workouts more effective. You’ll be saying, “Wow! I didn’t know I had muscles there.”
THE UPPER BACK
Ever watch one of those awards shows or find yourself flipping through celeb magazines at the grocery checkout? You’ll see a woman wearing a gorgeous open-back gown and wonder if you could ever pull that off. You totally could! Just because you can’t see it (your backside), doesn’t mean it isn’t there, right?
Try some reverse flys with dumbbells. This time, use a tempo to really captivate the muscle contraction: pull the weights back for one count, hold for two counts, release slowly on two counts.
Throw a single-arm dumbbell row with a heavy weight. Since you’re sculpting shape and strengthening the muscles that base your posture, think about your form and take fewer reps. To recruit coordinating muscle fibers, try the renegade row. Keep your hips square to the floor!
With resistance band rows, you can work the shoulders and tone the upper back to fend off unwanted bra spillover. This targets the triceps, too. No more double waving!
Pop quiz! Where are your lats? These often forgotten muscles are under your armpit, run down the side of your ribcage and around your back. Why are they important? They help you pull in your core and stand up tall. Keeping these muscles strong and healthy will help you defend yourself against injury to the area. It’s often the root of shoulder and neck tension. After you give a good workout, include some self-massaging or foam rolling, too!
Superman to the rescue! Grab a pair of dumbbells and lie on your belly for some IYT extensions. When you do this exercise, you must keep your nose pointing toward your mat. Looking up or forward will hyperextend the spine and put tension in the wrong places! Squeeze your glutes as you lift instead of pushing your belly into the floor more. Lots to think about, right? Focus on the burn along the sides of your ribcage and into your middle back instead.
Crunches and sit-ups are great, but they will only target the transverse abdominals, or the front wall of your tummy. They don’t do much for the lower belly — a spot many women wish they could steamroll. So, how can you strengthen it?
First, target your hip flexors. Those are the short group of muscles that run from the front of your body and into the spine. They help you not pee your pants when you run and jump, and they help you do pretty much every exercise and daily activity you can name. Include an exercise or two for them in your warm up, like the single leg lifts (shown below) or a seated leg lift combo.
Make your lower belly stabilize an entire exercise with scissor kicks. You might not be able to go as low as what you see below, so respect your limits. You’ll know you reached your limit when your back starts to come off the ground. Push the belly button down toward the floor and point your legs to lengthen. You can also try a more gentle approach with bicycle toe taps — or do a ton of reps with excellent breathing.
>> Back to Basics: 3-Minute Intro to Core Workout