6 MOVES TO TARGET UNDERTRAINED MUSCLES

6 MOVES TO TARGET UNDERTRAINED MUSCLES

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Squatsdeadlifts, and bench presses will get you big, but taking care of your smaller muscles—like your rotator cuff, low traps, and gluteus medius—will keep you injury-free. Think of them as your body’s support system, which stabilizes your larger muscles. Without them firing on all cylinders, you’re screwed.

For example, in the journal Clinical Biomechanics, researchers showed that improper length-tension ratios in the rotator cuff can result in poor muscle function and early muscle fatigue, which predisposes one to injury. So give smaller muscles the attention they deserve by working these moves—suggested by Matt Pudvah, head strength coach for the Sport Performance Institute at Manchester Athletic Club in Massachusetts—into your routine.

Pigeon Stretch With Band Distraction

WHAT IT WORKS:

Tensor fasciae latae, hip flexor, glute.

WHY DO IT:

The pull from the band opens your hip and provides a deeper stretch.

WHEN TO DO IT:

Pre-workout to open your hips or as a static stretch post-workout.

DO IT: 

Loop a band onto a squat rack. Step inside the band with your inside leg and walk out until there is tension in the band. Get into the pigeon stretch position with the band pulling into your hip joint—either straight back or at a 45-degree angle. Switch sides and repeat.

stretch 1

Mini Squat Exterior/Interior Rotation

WHAT IT WORKS:

Gluteus medius.

WHY DO IT:

This often-neglected muscle takes a backseat to the gluteus maximus during lifts unless it’s regularly engaged.

WHEN TO DO IT:

Perform this exercise before deadlifts or squats to wake the muscle up or superset with heavy lifts.

DO IT:

Wrap a mini band just below the knees and lower into a quarter-squat position. Keeping your feet flat on the ground, allow one knee to dip in toward your midline in a slow and controlled motion. Keeping your opposite knee still, press the inside knee back out to the starting position. Switch sides and repeat.

stretch 2

Band Scap Pulldown

WHAT IT WORKS:

Mid-trapezius, lower trapezius.

WHY DO IT:

These pulldowns achieve scapular retraction, the opposite of what mini band wall slides do. (See slide 6.) It’s all about balance.

WHEN TO DO IT:

Work this in before or after upper-body lifts.

DO IT:

Secure a band onto a high object so that you’re in a pulldown position at a greater-than-45-degree angle. Grab the band with both hands while keeping your elbows locked, and row in slowly using just your shoulder blades. Focus on driving down and back to prevent shrugging.

stretch 3

Mini Band Wall Slide

WHAT IT WORKS:

Mid-trapezius, serratus anterior, some deltoid.

WHY DO IT:

Scapular protraction—the movement that’s occurring here—rarely gets targeted, whereas the opposite, scapular retraction, gets hit all the time. This balances things out.

WHEN TO DO IT:

As part of your warmup or before bench presses or rows.

DO IT:

Place a mini band around your midforearms. Round your shoulders forward without letting your elbows come off the wall. Slide forearms up and down so the band goes from shoulder height to eye level.

stretch 4

Dead Bug With Band Overhead

WHAT IT WORKS:

Core.

WHY DO IT:

It will keep your core active, engaged, and strong, as well as promote good form and alignment through your pelvis and ribs.

WHEN TO DO IT:

During your warmup or before deadlifts to make sure your core is awake and ready.

DO IT:

Anchor band to an object that’s knee height or lower. Lie down on your back with the band directly behind you. Grab band in both hands and pull so that your arms are straight and your hands are above your shoulders. Keeping your back flat and arms stationary, bring your knees up toward your arms, and lower one leg at a time.

stretch 5

External Shoulder Rotation With Band

WHAT IT WORKS:

Rotator cuff.

WHY DO IT:

It will stabilize and strengthen your rotator cuff to promote shoulder health and prevent injuries.

WHEN TO DO IT:

During your warmup or immediately prior to an upper-body lift with pushing movements.

DO IT:

Anchor a band to a rack or any stationary object. Standing beside the rack, place a pad between your opposite-side elbow and ribs, grip the band, and rotate your forearm away from your body without moving your upper arm. Keep your wrist locked for the entire exercise. Switch sides and repeat.

stretch 6

BY KEVIN GRAY