Working muscles you can't see in the mirror

Words by Simon Margheritini for The Australia

Take a look in the mirror at the gym and you'll see those muscles the majority of people want to develop the most

They focus on the larger chest, shoulder and abdominal muscles, often on consecutive days, without giving a thought to the strain this places on untrained muscles such as back, hamstrings and buttocks - the muscles you can't see.

This muscular imbalance can be the cause of many problems. And the secret to getting back into balance is to devote at least part of your workout to developing muscles you can't see.

When you walk into the gym you should always think, "push-pull" exercises.

When you push a weight away from your body - for example, a dumbbell chest press - make sure you also perform a pulling exercise such as a chin up or cable rowing.

Working all your muscles means you burn more calories and it also makes you work harder in less time.

Performing exercises that replicate daily life movements are extremely important to gain optimum muscular balance.

For example, a squat is an exercise that works the buttocks, quads, core muscles and many of the stabilising muscles.

  • Compare that with a leg extension, where you sit, automatically turning off your core muscles, and extend the leg, only working a few muscles.
  • Or the bench press. This exercise predominantly works the chest and triceps, but again switches off the important core muscles.

Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned health enthusiast, it is vital to appreciate that weight training is not about working only the muscles you can see in the mirror. It is about focusing equal amounts of attention on the smaller stabilising muscles to get more effective results.