These 5 muscles may be small, but they have a big impact on your proportion and symmetry.
You don’t have to be a competitive bodybuilder or even go to a bodybuilding show to be able to spot imbalances in a muscular physique. Weekend warriors are everywhere and are often noticeable by their big chests, arms and shoulders, and lack of… well, just about everything else. But for those that are competitive and train each day to create a perfectly balanced physique don’t forget the following five muscles that are often neglected. Here is how to train them for results that’ll set you apart from the rest.
This muscle runs underneath the biceps and is visible on the outside of each upper arm. It works with the biceps as a flexor of the elbow joint but, unlike the biceps, does not have a role in supinating the forearm – as occurs in the outward rotation during supinating (also known as twisting/rotating) dumbbell curls.
- Why work it?
- How do I train it?
The brachialis adds width to your arms. When the biceps are flexed a well-developed branch bulges out as an impressive knot on the outside between the biceps and triceps, offering greater density, depth and detail. We probably don’t have to sell you on growing a crucial part of your guns, but since you’re already hitting brachialis when you work biceps, do you need to do more? Yes, because in rotating or supinated curls the biceps are doing the brunt of the work. To maximise brachialis development do one type of curl movement that focuses on this muscle in each biceps session.
To target the brachialis curl a weight with either a palm-down (reverse) grip or a thumb-up (neutral) grip. For the former, do barbell reverse curls with a medium grip, either standing or on a preacher bench. For the latter, do hammer curls with two dumbbells, simultaneously or alternating. Three or four sets of 10 to 12 reps should sting the brachialis and because both of these exercises work the forearms (especially the brachioradialis) more than palm-up (supinated) curls, you may want to do them at the end of the bicep routine, just before wrist curls and reverse wrist curls (which you should be doing if you have no forearms – keep reading).
The serratus anterior lies atop the outer sides of the highest eight ribs and connects to the upper, inner area of the scapula. The “finger-like” ridges are visible just below the outer edges of the pectorals. The main function of the serratus anterior is to pull the scapula forward, like at the top of a bench press movement when you let your shoulders come off the bench to raise the barbell higher than is customary. This muscle also works to stabilise the scapula and assists in rotating it upward.
- Why work it?
- How do I train it?
Visually, the serratus anterior muscles set off the pecs and abs, and ties the front to the back. At lean body weights development of this muscle group gives a physique that “finished” look. OK, that’s snazzy and all but, as with brachialis, you may assume you’re already stimulating the serratus anterior by doing pullovers and pulldowns. In fact, those exercises don’t do much for the serratus anterior, other than give the muscles a good stretch. This is because, contrary to popular belief, the motion of pulling your arms from overhead towards your waist is not a direct function of the serratus anterior.
Hold your arms straight out in front of you, reaching as far forward as possible until you feel your scapulas rounding. This is the primary function of your serratus anterior muscle. To duplicate this do some chest presses with the same exaggerated range of motion. Don’t do this on your maximum sets, rather incorporate it into your warm-up sets and, as you grow stronger, the lighter sets of a pyramid. You can also do push-ups with the same scapula-rounding contractions and barbell front raises while maintaining this posture.