As you work through your routine at the gym, you might notice certain muscle groups feel weak despite gains in adjacent areas. The muscle weakness may reside in muscle groups that do not activate during your normal workout. The most common fail points in this realm are the muscles in your hands, wrists, hips and neck. Luckily, you can bring along a few key devices to work out those areas and bring them into the strength range of the rest of your body. Here are three items you should tuck into your gym bag today.
The wrist roller is a narrow tube with a weight hanging from a cord strung through the middle. The tube diameter should allow you to reach all of the way around without stretching the ligaments in your hands. You use this device by holding it in your hands, palm down, with your arms extended out in front of you. Slowly twist the tube around to wind the weight up and back down again, alternating the active hands with each turn. You should feel the lesser used muscles in your hands, wrists and forearms activating with each rotation.
Since dips use your own bodyweight for resistance, you will eventually stall out in building strength with this exercise unless you add weight. Adding pounds in the form of a hanging weight also changes the way you balance your body, adding to the activation of your unused muscle groups.
Slowly add weight to the dip belt to increase the challenge without injuring your arms, shoulders or lower back. Consider holding the raised or lowered position for a few seconds longer than normal rather than adding a significant amount of weight to the belt. Always keep the dip belt cinched tight to prevent the weight from shifting hard to either side while holding yourself in the air.
At first glance, the head harness may feel like an extreme way to gain strength in the neck and shoulders. Unfortunately, there are not a lot of options available for training those muscles. The head harness allows you to slowly increase the muscle tone and strength without putting too much stress on your body.
Do not combine head harness workouts with other forms of exercise. Instead, you should be focusing on maintaining perfect form while holding and lifting weights using your neck muscles. If you find the harness puts too much stress on your neck at first, consider performing the same movements while holding a resistance band taut against the back of your head.
Safely Seek Gains
Never push yourself past the breaking point, whether you are working on bodyweight fitness routines or weightlifting activities. Accurately gauge your progress to see if you need to add weight or use the above devices to increase the challenge. Make sure the decision doesn’t come from a place of pride, but rather from an honest evaluation of your strength and condition. If you cannot accurately assess yourself, consider having a personal trainer at the gym assist in the process.