Target, synergist and stabilizer muscles – what are they? Here is a very simple explanation.
It’s No Rocket Science
You probably heard those terms sometime soon after getting interested in weightlifting, bodybuilding and the entire business of building muscle. But what do they mean?
Looking for an explanation on the internet, you sometimes get rather misleading or overly complicated definitions of these.
Worse, you have seen me use those terms without properly explaining them. Let’s rectify that:
Of Dynamic Stabilizers And Their Friends
For brevity’s sake I kept the explanation of the different stabilizers in the video short. Here it is a bit more detailed:
- Stabilizers, without another word in front, stay under tension when you do an exercise, but don’t move. One exercise where this happens are pullovers, where the elbow remains in a slightly bend position. You achieve this by locking the triceps.
- Dynamic stabilizers do move. They get shorter at the target joint and lengthen at the adjacent joint, practically staying the same length. This allows the target or synergist muscles movement, but having that movement go in the direction you want it to. An example here once more is the triceps, that assists your biceps in that way when you do pull-ups.
- Antagonist stabilizers work against the force of a target, synergist or stabilizer muscle. During push-ups, as mentioned in the video, the muscles on your back work against the stabilizing ab muscles – both of them together allow your spine to stay straight.
No Special Exercises Needed
Working on the different synergists and (especially) stabilizers does not require any dedicated exercises, contrary to what you some bodybuilding websites tell you. If you stay away from machines, which largely take the stabilizers out of the picture, and do a variety of compound movements with free weights, you are all set.
Picture courtesy of “A of Doom“.