3 Simple Strategies to Target Weak Bodypartsby Alexander Cortes on June 17, 2014
3 Simple Strategies to Target Weak Bodyparts
Everyone has a particular muscle group that does not grow as fast relative to the rest of their body. It could be a single small muscle, say biceps or calve for example, or it could much larger, such as quads and hams for a taller lifter.
Many lifters get continuously frustrated throughout their training that they can never find a way to make X bodypart catch up. Too often though, the approach many people take is poorly thought out, poorly implemented, and is total overkill. Effectively bringing up any particular muscle requires a well thought out strategy, and one must first identify what the problem is before throwing a kitchen sinks worth of exercises into their training.
Here are the three most common reasons why a most group will not grow:
This a muscle that has an undeveloped neurological network within the muscle tissue. This is essentially what the mind muscle connection, and in this case, its lacking if you cannot feel a muscle really working. It could be chest, it could be hams, it could be lower lats, but regardless, the mind muscle connection is very poor.
SOLUTION: When this is the problem, the exercises you select are usually more important than the volume of work you are doing. Targeted isolation work done with controlled tempos will be your best option for improving the recruitment of the muscle. Machines would likely be your best option for this, or hammer strength equipment.
This means a muscle does not activate to its fullest extent or get adequately placed under tension because of your particular body dimensions. This is not a mind-muscle connection problem, but rather is a problem with simply not finding that exercises that best suit your anatomy. An example of this would be a taller lifter such as myself. I am 6’2 with very long arms. When benching, my delts always dominate over my chest. Regardless of my bench technique, my pecs are never going to be placed under enough load to make this a good exercise for growth. However, when doing low incline press, or chest fly type movements such as a pec deck or incline cable fly, I can fully feel my chest activate and get a much better pump. Depending on whether you are short, tall, how long your limbs are, and the structure of your joints, certain movements will be better suited for your muscular growth.
SOLUTION: Find the variation on compound movements that suits your body best. Benching from a low incline or decline, taking a wide or narrow squat stance, and using DB rows over barbell rows are all changes that can make a difference in your training and muscular development.
Too Little or Too Much Volume
Yes, you can be doing too much volume. If you are training a muscle high frequency, and it is not responding to the increased workload, narrowing down your exercise and cutting back on the volume MAY be the solution. Similarly, if a muscle group is underdeveloped, and you are only training it once a week, then increasing the training frequency could be the solution. This MUST be done intelligently though.
SOLUTION: When decreasing volume, lower overall workload by about 25% at a time. So if you are training arms twice a week and doing 20 total working sets, try lowering that down to 16 working sets.
Similarly, if you have a leg day and are doing 20 working sets, add in a second lower body day of just squats, for 4-5 working sets. This is an intelligent way to lower or add volume over the long term, and you wont burn out like many people do when they do too much too soon.
These strategies address the most common problems I’ve encountered with clients and competitors, and they should give you a critical eye on how best to further your own physique development. Any questions at all regarding which strategy is appropriate or how to identify what movements would work best for you, feel free to ask me in the Q&A, I will be happy to answer.