Anyone that has been longer in the fitness lifestyle or just training a couple of days a week randomly has noticed that some body parts are easier to develop than others. In rare cases do we encounter someone who has equal development for all muscle groups. For example I had a problem developing my chest while my arms and legs grow no matter what I do. Some trainers claim that this mostly depends on the mind-muscle connection with that specific muscle group and advise that we try to flex and stretch this muscles a lot to make better link with them. I must say I’ve been flexing my chest muscles a lot since I’ve read this and it helps a little.
Biggest shift in my chest development was when I learned how to mix it up with intensity and which exercises work the best for me. In my shocking chest routine I’ve mentioned some of the techniques I’ve personally used to promote rapid chest growth. I know some of you struggle with other muscle groups like arms and legs so I’ve decided to write some tips how you can force each of those specific lagging groups into new growth.
My personal belief is that muscle development is genetic. Some people just have to push through and struggle longer to get some parts developed. In 4 years of training you probably won’t have these problems, they are most visible in the first 6 months where muscles grow like mushrooms after rain.
Tips and Tricks to Boost Intensity for Specific Lagging Muscle Groups
These are some of the tips I’ve personally tried when I felt like my workout has become less effective. To experience maximum benefits from each technique its best if you do them separate.
Too much intensity can also be a problem so don’t overdo it, if you start experiencing symptoms of over-training like: can’t finish your workout, trouble with falling asleep, pain in joints and limbs, low immune system and getting sick all the time or depression it’s never a bad idea to take a week off training while focusing fully on recovery with massage, sauna and good nutrition. Here are some of the things I use for stimulating new growth:
- Supersets – Performing two exercises in a row without rest or with very short rest periods. Examples of this would be doing a biceps exercise then immediately switching to a triceps exercise. You can incorporate supersets into workouts with opposite muscle groups like biceps-triceps, quads-hamstrings.
- Pre-Exhaust – Basically it’s about using isolation exercise for a compound movement on the same muscle group. You can combine it with supersets so you do the compound exercise just after the isolation one. This technique is good because the targeted muscle group is in the isolation movement gets worked while the support and indirect muscle groups don’t get tired then when you switch to the compound the target group is most likely to be under bigger pressure promoting new growth. Example of using this would be doing a set of flyes before a set of barbell bench press.
- Post-Exhaust – The opposite of pre-exhaust, we use isolation movements to finish off the larger muscle groups. Typically we’ll focus our main compound movements as we start the workout and save the isolation exercises for the end.
- Drop sets – These are easy to incorporate in any movement but they shouldn’t be used to often. Training till muscle failure is not something you want to do all the time. This technique is based on continuing the same exercise but with lowering the weight until we hit complete muscle failure. Note: Make sure you have a spotter to minimize rest between switching the weight load.
- Switching it up – Every 3 weeks you should change one or two exercises in the routine to promote new muscle growth. Muscles easily get used to the same old movements and this will greatly improve your physique. Changing the order of the performed exercises work similar.
- Muscle specialization - Once in a while you can train some body part 2 times a week with 72h rest between the workouts. These specialization programs are specifically designed to break plateaus, keep in mind that real growth on these programs happen when you get back your normal routine. It’s probably also a good idea to lower the volume and intensity on other muscle groups while specializing for one if you want maximum results
- Increasing intensity – Often to promote new muscle growth you don’t need more then to increase volume or decrease rest period between sets. What I found helpful was flexing my muscles between sets while resting, this seems to keep the blood flowing and the intensity is a lot higher. Remember that you should be always be focusing on using the maximum weight you can control without the need to cheat on every rep for the desired rep range.
Fighting with lagging muscle groups can be very difficult and frustrating. With these techniques in our arsenal you should always have something new to throw at your muscles to force them into growing. This is advanced stuff and if you are a beginner in the gym you probably don’t need this in the first couple of months as your muscles will grow fast so it’s better to keep these for later. Good luck with your fitness goals.