Turn your workout weak spots into smooth moves.
Active people notoriously have weak links in their abdominal and back muscles, and hips, knees, forearms and shoulders. Like a classic Achilles' heel, a weak link may eventually undermine your strength. Often, one side is stronger than the other, which throws your body out of whack. When you find a muscle imbalance, work on getting the weak side to catch up to your strong side or else, one side will always be stronger.
Following you'll find out how to overcome common weak workout links.
Abdominal and back muscles
For most people, the weakest link is the core - the abdominal and back muscles. "A lot of other weak links can be traced back to the core. If your abs or back is not strong enough to rotate the trunk, you have to rotate your shoulders or hips more to compensate.
To anchor your core, do more than just plain crunches. Doing them on a Swiss ball, one of those oversized, rubber balls found in many health clubs, gets your back in game shape.
Lie on your back on the ball, hands locked behind your head, and extend your back down a few degrees toward the ground. Do a set of five crunches, squeezing your abdominals and lifting your torso upward, parallel to the ground. Work toward doing two to three sets of 20.
This weak link is often seen among runners and cyclists. As they go through highly repetitive motions, the hip weakness may result in knee or foot pain.
"There's no fixing it at the knee or foot because the problem isn't there.
Do backward leg extensions. While standing, wrap a rubber exercise band, such as a Dynaband, around one ankle. Extend your leg backward from the hip, and then return to the starting position. Do 15-20 repetitions.
Do hip rotations. Lie on your side, knees bent, with the exercise band around both knees. Keep the feet together, and rotate the top hip up by splitting the knee apart, then bring the knees back together. Do 15-20 repetitions. Switch sides and repeat.
Women have more knee problems than men because of their anatomy: Wider hips and a wider pelvic angle make women's knees more prone to problems. Any sport with lateral movement, such as tennis, or pounding on the knees, such as running, can cause knee pain.
To prevent knee pain, strengthen the thigh muscles that support the knee. Do leg curls and leg extensions, and stretch the quadriceps (top of the knee) and hamstring muscles (bottom of knee) to increase flexibility.
Weak forearms significantly affect your ability to maintain good hand positioning. "If your hands fatigue, you end up dropping your guard to a poor position, and use your shoulders more or rotate your body more to compensate for the lack of strength.
To strengthen your forearms, include more dumbbell exercises in your workout. Dumbbells force you to grip against resistance while you lift weights and require more side-to-side stability than exercise machines.
Use light (1-5 pound) dumbbells to do wrist curls (with palm up) and reverse wrist curls (with palm down). Do one set of 8-12 repetitions or until muscles are fatigued.
Upper-back muscles stabilize the shoulder blade. To strengthen them and reduce upper-body fatigue, do reverse flies. Lie on a bench (or resistance ball) face down, hold a light dumbbell (5-10 pounds) in each hand and lift the dumbbells out to the side, then back down to under the bench. Do one set of 8-12 repetitions or until muscles become tired.