Meet the hidden muscles you’re probably ignoring but really, really shouldn’t

Trainer Tiffiny Hall talks us through the exercises you need to wake them up!

By Contributor • 3 years ago • HEALTH & FITNESS


Biceps, quads, glutes and abs; these guys seem to be the major players who get all the workout attention.

And it’s easy to see why: these muscles are often easier to target, are on show, and are the ones that help us feel sexy and strong. However, there are other muscles that deserve some TLC, Tiff style.

To ensure your body is strong from the inside out, here’s how to wake up five different muscle groups (and don’t worry if you can’t pronounce them):

1. Iliopsoas

If you have bad posture, a weak core or limited hip movement, it could be due to your iliopsoas. This muscle group (part of the hip flexor group) connects your lower spine and hip with the front of your thigh. And although you’ll never see it in the mirror, never underestimate its power.

Exercise: Bridge

Start by lying down with your hands by your side and your feet close to your butt.

Engage your core by pulling your belly button down into your spine and connecting the muscles between your hip bones and lift your hips up to create a straight line from your knees to shoulders.

Squeeze your glutes and hamstrings, keeping the connection of your tensed stomach. Try and hold for 10-20 seconds before lowering yourself back to the starting position. Repeat up to 10 times.

2. Levator ani and Coccygeus (the pelvic floor)

Pelvic floor muscles provide vital support (like a hammock) to the organs that lie on it – particularly the bladder, bowel and uterus. They also help support a baby during pregnancy and assist in the birthing process, so it’s super important us ladies show the pelvic floor some TLC (Tiff loving care!).

Exercise: Kegels

This is the fancy name for contracting and relaxing your pelvic floor muscles. The best way to do this is to stop urination midstream (these are your pelvic floor muscles).

Contract these muscles and hold for 5 seconds, then release for 5 seconds. Try and repeat this up to 10 times, 3 times a day.

3. Gluteus Minimus

We all know of the gluteus maximus, but there’s a smaller muscle in the butt family: the gluteus minimus! It’s attached to your pelvis and then inserts at the top of your upper leg bone. When the gluteus minimus contracts, it pulls your leg away from the midline of your body (hip abduction).

Exercise: Rainbows (AKA, leg lifts)

Start by lying on your right side resting on your elbow so it’s at 90 degrees, legs straight, feet flexed.

Lift your left leg and touch it down in front, then lift again and reach it to the back. Remember to switch your core on and keep your shoulders and hips even.

Create that rainbow arch 20 times on each side.

4. Gastrocnemius

This muscle forms half of your calf muscle (the other half is called the soleus) and is totally underestimated. From running to squat jumps to skipping, this muscle is responsible for it all. And with summer just around the corner, now’s the time to define our calves.

Exercise: Seated calf raises

You can do these at work so there is no excuse. Start by sitting tall on a chair or bench with your feet flat on the ground.

Engage your core and lift your heels off the ground as high as possible. Slowly lower your heels back to the ground and repeat.

To up the ante, hold two dumbbells on top of your knees for extra resistance.

5. Forearm extensors

Building strong forearms is just as important as strong biceps and triceps. This muscle group is responsible for movement in your wrists, fingers and elbows – and I bet you never thought about training them… until now.

Strong forearms will help you smash workouts which include burpees, mountain climbers and push-ups.

An important note before you begin: the forearm muscles are relatively small muscles, and can be injured very easily. Do not do less than 8 reps.

My recommended rep range, especially if you’ve never directly trained forearms, is between 12-15.

Exercise: Reverse dumbbell curl

Begin by standing tall, feet shoulder-width apart with a dumbbell in each hand (you don’t need heavy weights, anything from 2-4 kilos is fine). Ensure your palms are facing down with your arms fully extended (in front of your thighs).

Now keep your upper arms stationary as you curl the weights towards your shoulder, palms facing out. Hold for a few seconds and slowly bring your arms back to the starting position.

Words by Tiffiny Hall, Founder of

Follow Tiff @tiffhall_xo


The 5 best butt exercises for great glutes

This ‘Backless Dress Workout’ will tone your upper body in no time

Tiffiny Hall: Is stress making you gain weight?

Personal trainer, Tiffiny Hall, shares her day on a plate

Main image: Supplied



Related tags