The Forgotten Circuit

Neglecting your non-glamour muscles is a recipe for injury.

Stronger muscles in your neck, shoulders, and back can help decrease your chance of injury, but these muscles are often overlooked in favor of bigger biceps and pecs. Even though athletes recognize that possessing a strong neck, shoulders, and back are critical to better posture and injury prevention, few fighters train these areas regularly. Since many of the muscles addressed in this circuit (rotator cuff, quadratus lumborum, sternocleidomastoids) are small and often underworked, begin training these areas conservatively. Use slow, controlled tempos, and don’t jerk or bounce in any of the positions. Don’t forget to warm up before beginning the circuit. Perform each exercise consecutively. Repeat for three total circuits.

Incline Dumbbell Cleans

Swiss Ball Leans


Emphasis: Mid and upper back (rhomboids,
traps, rotator cuff, erectors).

Begin lying on your chest on an incline bench with a dumbbell in each hand. In the first movement, shrug your upper back. In the second movement, rotate your arms forward until they become parallel with your head. Lower under control.

Repeat for 12 reps.


Emphasis: Anterior and posterior neck muscles (traps, sternocleidomastoid, scalenes, levator scapulae).

Place a Swiss ball against the wall. For forward leans, place your forehead against the ball. For backward leans, place the back of your head against the ball. In both exercises, lean your weight into the ball to increase the resistance.

Hold each position for 10 breaths.

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