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While big biceps and strong six-packs might be weight room headliners, these underrated muscles can literally stop the show.
There they are, every day, helping you walk forward, sit up straight and keep your eyes on the road, but when it comes time to hit the gym, you might overlook these crucial muscles, and that might lead to injury or pain in the future. We gathered together a panel of Gold's Gym Fitness Institute experts and trainers to get their votes on the most ignored muscle groups.
"People tend to neglect the muscles we can't see in the mirror," says Adam Friedman. But important muscle groups are back there—ones that are vital for good posture and everyday activities, like walking and bending. Robert Reames, head fitness trainer on the Dr. Phil Show, concurs: "These are the muscles you normally don't start training until you're in physical rehab for back pain or some other injury."
It's all about balance, explains Dr. Eric Plasker, author of The 100 Year Lifestyle. "If you favor certain muscle groups over others, it causes the spine and nerves to age much more quickly and leads to injury," he says. "Just like with the tires on your car, you can wear down your body unevenly."
Below are our findings. Click on the glowing circles to find out why these muscles are essential and how you can start training them. Luckily, many of these muscles can be strengthened with simple moves that can be done while you type away at a computer or channel surf. These few extra moves are like flossing—they might not seem critical at first, but they'll pay off in the long run.