- Most exercisers ignore the important muscles of the hips, back, and core, personal trainers say.
- Hip abductors and adductors, deep core, and spinal support muscles are key to stability.
- Exercising overworked or weak muscles can help prevent injury and improve training results.
Whether you’re an exercise beginner or a veteran gym rat, you may not be able to gain stability and strength by neglecting the key muscles in your legs and core, according to a personal trainer.
Most people tend to neglect the important muscle groups in the hips, back, and abs, which are important for providing stability, according to Cat Kom, CEO and Founder of SWEAT onDemand Studio.
Adding exercises to work underused muscles like the abductors, adductors, longissimus, and traverse abs can help you get more out of your workout and prevent injury, Kom told Insider.
“I try to throw out the training, because people don’t do it themselves,” he said.
Hip muscles like abductors and adductors balance the lower body
One of the most underrated muscle groups on the board is the hips, according to Kom: However, men and women tend to have different weak points in this area.
For women, glute exercises are popular, but often exclude the hip abductors and gluteus medius or “side butt” on the outside of the leg.
“For a well-rounded lower body, and to support the upper body, we often forget to work the smaller muscles in the hips,” says Kom.
To target the outer hips, he recommends curtsy lunges, where you swing one leg behind the other while bending the knees. You can also do clamshells, lie on your side and bend your knees, then lift your upper knees to the ceiling (with an optional resistance band for an extra challenge).
In contrast, people tend to neglect exercises for the inner thighs, or adductor muscles that help stabilize the lower body and are important for hip mobility.
A squat variation called sumo squats, with a wide stance and feet pointing out, helps target the adductors.
“You don’t often see people enjoy doing sumo squats and they should,” said Kom.
Don’t forget the deep core muscles in ab exercises
While core training is popular, people often focus too much on the upper layers of the muscles, and not enough on the transverse abdominis, the “deep abs” that help provide core stability and strength, according to Kom.
He recommends moves like bicycle crunches and pilates roll-ups, where you lie on your back, arms over your head, and slowly roll your body up to a sitting position (and then reach your toes) by engaging your core.
Both hit all of your abs muscles – and the slower and more controlled your movements are, the more benefits you’ll get.
“If you just slow down, you’ll get twice as much and you’re more likely to avoid injury,” he says.
Engage your back muscles to support your core
To prevent injury and provide stability, a strong back is key, and often overlooked, says Kom.
“You might be working your ‘core’ abs in the front, but there’s not the same place on the other side of your body,” he says.
The “superman” exercise is a great way to build your back, including the erector spinae muscles that support the spine, made up of three muscles called the longissimus, spinalis, and iliocostalis. These exercises also target the glutes and abs.
Do the exercise by lying on your stomach, and lift your legs behind you while raising your chest and arms off the ground to make a “Y” shape, and hold that position for a few seconds, then repeat. Two to three sets of 8-12 reps are a good starting point.
While it’s traditionally done with the palms facing the ground, Kom suggests turning your arms so the palms face inward, to reduce pressure on the shoulder joint.
One of Kom’s favorite exercises, the deadlift, also strengthens your back, and gives you some serious bang for your buck by working your core, glutes, hamstrings, and hips together for full-body benefits.
“You can open heavy, and really see some big gains,” she said.
Just be sure to warm up properly, and use proper form to prevent injury with all exercises.