Three hard-to-work muscles – and how to tackle them

These spots can be difficult to target, but these tips will show you how
Published March 4, 2021

Whether you’re a fitness newbie, an exercise veteran or somewhere in the middle, there are some muscles that can be difficult for all of us to target.

“In my opinion, the hardest to reach muscle groups and the ones that are most often underdeveloped are the obliques and triceps,” says Tami Smith, an American Council on Exercise personal trainer and owner of Fit Healthy Momma.

“Many people think that because they’re working their core and their arms that they’re hitting all their muscles, however, with these two muscles specifically, it’s best to do some isolation exercises that really focus in on them.”


To target the obliques, which are the ab muscles on your sides, Smith recommends the following moves:

  • Side planks
  • Side plank crunches or hip dips
  • Bicycle crunches
  • Pike to kick sit
  • Mountain climbers
  • A-frame Russian twist


To target the triceps, the muscles along the back of the upper arm, Smith suggests giving these moves a try:

  • Tricep dips
  • Overhead tricep extension
  • Tricep push-up
  • Close grip bench press

Another muscle that can be hard to target is in the buttock and hip area – it’s the gluteus medius.

Gluteus medius

“It resides on the outside of the hip and is responsible for keeping the pelvis level when we are in a single leg stance,” explains Jess McManus, a physical therapist, health coach and owner of Full Circle Physical Therapy and Wellness Coaching.

When the gluteus medius is weak, she adds, we can experience hip, knee or lower back pain.

“Some great ways to engage it are side planks, side-lying clamshells with resistance bands, lateral stepping with a resistance band and holding a weight in the [left] hand when lunging with your [right] leg, and vice versa. You want to be sure you feel that muscle burning, at least midway through the first set, and then through the remaining two sets of the exercise.”