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Source: Robbie Ann Darby /

You need to build large muscle groups and small groups too. The small muscle groups help you stay balanced and help you prevent injury. Large muscle groups will help you lose weight and get stronger but your small muscle groups keep your body together.

1. Rotator cuff

Why it’s important: Deltoids the size of grapefruits won’t do you much good if you tear your rotator cuff, which is a group of four muscles that literally form a “cuff” to stabilize the shoulder joint. Injure it, and you’ll restrict your range of motion, making overhead movements painful. “Shoulders have the most mobility, so they’re also the most unstable,” says Tom Holland, MS, C.S.C.S., author of Beat the Gym: Personal Trainer Secrets—Without the Personal Trainer Price Tag. “Keep them strong by taking a ‘pre-hab’ versus a ‘rehab’ approach. You typically only see people doing these exercises after they’re injured.”

How to strengthen it: Attach light to medium resistance tubing to a door hinge, then stand with your left side to it, grasping the handle of the tubing with your right hand. Bend right arm at a 45-degree angle to your side (your elbow is at your hip and your forearm is at a 90-degree angle in a handshake position), then rotate your arm at the elbow, pulling the tubing out towards the right side without pulling your upper arm away from your body—like a door opening on a hinge. Next, stand with your right side towards the door hinge. With your right arm bent at a 45-degree angle next to your side, grasp the handle of the tubing with your right hand and rotate your arm at the elbow, pulling the handle in towards the center of your body. Repeat 10 to 12 times on each side, alternating sides for each set. Start with a light resistance, then work your way up.


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