First, check in with your weekly routines. Are you hitting the six major muscle groups—chest, shoulders, back, arms, abs, and legs? Or are you maybe skimping on those not-so-favorite moves?
Even if you're checking all your major boxes, it's still possible to overlook individual muscles. Think of that guy at the gym who always spends leg day working on his quads, but forgets about anything he can't see in the mirror—like his hamstrings and calves.
It might be tough to know which muscles need some extra love. Trainer and fitness coach Roxie Jones, the creator of BodyROX, says to get a full understanding of where you may be lacking in strength, you should seek out a professional trainer for guidance and insight.
“There are a few assessments you can run through to test which muscles need more work," she says. "It's better done with the eye of a professional who understands the anatomy and how to go about correcting weaknesses."
But if you want to quickly test your muscle strength at home to get a basic idea of where to begin, Jones suggests starting with a side plank. This move is a great way to assess your core endurance and lateral muscle strength, as well hip strength.
To make sure you’re doing it correctly, take a look at Well+Good’s The Right Way with trainer Charlee Atkins.
“The goal of a side plank is to work on the core but also the arm strength,” Jones says, “In order to hold a successful side plank, you have to make sure you are in the right formation.”
What does that look like? Your bottom shoulder should line up straight over your wrist, with your middle finger pointing straight out. Your head should be on the same plane as your heels (not leaning too far forward or back). With your feet are stacked, avoid dropping your hips or elevating them too much; keep them aligned in the center of your body by engaging your core and glutes.
This exercise tests the strength of your obliques, core, and arm strength, as well as your hips. Start by attempting a 30 second side plank. If your form starts to fade mid-way, check in with your body and see where you are feeling the burn the most: That may be the best place to home in on strength training.
Side planks aren't the only move to try. Jones says that other exercises like overhead squats, overhead carries, push-ups, leg lowers, lying floor presses, and pencil pick-ups can also be great tests of your ability.
Schedule a strength assessment with your trainer or look into options with a pro at your local gym to help you get a feel for what muscles need a little extra love and how to properly tackle strengthening them.
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