The Four Muscles We Don’t Work Out Enough
Everett Sloan, owner and head coach at CrossFit Bytown, is a personal trainer with over 20 years of experience with health and fitness. In 2012, he opened CrossFit Bytown to help others succeed in their fitness goals. He has a passion for movement principals and working with clients to improve their quality of movement and life. The methods he teaches are simple in execution and return big on time invested in them. All of the exercises he describes here require little to no equipment, are very simple and almost impossible to execute incorrectly.
When people think of their “core” they think of a nice six pack. That is the rectus abdominus. It’s the flashy muscle that everyone wants. Unfortunately, it’s not the most important muscle of the core. It’s actually the obliques that are essential for trunk stability—but most people train them incorrectly or not at all.
Try this: The Sandbag Carry
Pick up a heavy sandbag (or awkward object) and bear hug it on your belly. Stand or walk with it. You will have to lean back a little depending on the weight. This will press on your belly making you keep tension in your obliques, and at a heavier weight, will cause you to lean back, which will also work your spinal erectors.
Latissimus Dorsi (Lats
These are the “wings” under your arms—the second largest muscle group in the body that are responsible for pulling the shoulder joint down. Most people do not know how to engage them properly. With today’s society of forward hunched computer slaves we tend to pull our shoulder up and forward. The lats will add shoulder stability and keep your shoulder socket properly centered.
Try this: Hand Over Hand Sled Pull
This is a simple exercise, but hard to execute properly. You will need a 50 foot long rope, a weight sled (or an old car tire) and some weights. Place your feet fairly wide apart, and reach your hips back while bringing your chest perpendicular to the floor. Grab the rope and start pulling your elbows down and back, reaching hand over hand to keep tension in the rope. DO NOT sway your hips or over reach, keep a slight bend at arm extension. Pull fast, if your lats are not burning, repeat.
With the average Canadian spending 3/4 of their day sitting or reclining, our glutes are being used to cushion our sitting, not opening the hips. The glutes are one of the most important muscles for power, speed, and explosiveness. The glutes refer to a complex of 3 muscles whose purposes are to open our hips and externally rotate our legs.
Try this: Throws
Grab an object of moderate weight, preferably something soft like a sandbag or slam ball. Pick it up with straight arms, bend your knees and hips slightly, performing a jumping motion and try to throw the object at least 10 feet high. Do not try to catch it and don’t use your arms to throw it; you are trying to fire your glutes.
Grip strength is a great indicator of long term health. Unfortunately with todays modern society very few of us still work with our hands. Your hands are your primary connection to everything you carry or hold, and if they are weak you will not be able to express your true potential.
Try this: Farmer’s Carry
Pick up two heavy objects of the same weight, spine tall, tight core, and walk as long as possible. If you don’t have the space, just picking up and holding the object is a good alternative. This also works your obliques as you brace your core.