“My attitude is if you push me towards something that you think is a weakness, then I will turn that perceived weakness into a strength.” Michael Jordan
In bodybuilding, the idea is to create the illusion of perfect balance, symmetry, and proportion. Ideally this seems simple and straightforward, train everything equally and you will create balance throughout the physique. However, this is not the case, and if it were, every bodybuilder would be walking around with perfect symmetry, resembling a statue carved by Michelangelo himself. The truth is that body parts develop differently due to several factors. This is what we will be addressing in this very article, along with how to overcome these factors and build a physique worthy of being immortalized on Mount Olympus.
Why Everyone Inherently Has Weak Points
No one wants weak points, and for this reason we typically ignore them and keep training as usual, as if hoping they’ll magically vanish one day. This often has the opposite effect, exacerbating our weak points as our strong points continue to grow consistently. Among the many factors that cause weak points are: Genetics, poor mind-muscle connection in certain muscle groups, lack of intensity, overtraining (particularly in smaller muscle groups), and simply the way we are naturally put together. For example, someone with long arms and a short torso is usually going to appear to be lacking in arm thickness. Someone who’s short with a wider waist is going to look blocky, etc. If any of the above describe you, don’t worry. It’s all fixable. It isn’t your fault that you have weak points, it is however, your duty to do something about them.
Bringing Up Weak Points
So how do you bring up weak points? It varies from person to person, and bodypart to bodypart, however, with dedication and patience, any weak point can always be drastically improved. The following is a list of ways to bring up weak points. Give one or two methods a try, and if they work, continue implementing them. If not, try other alternatives, but just remember, the most important thing is that you have your mind made up regarding exactly what you want to achieve.
1.Train more intensely. This is the most basic principle when bringing up a lagging bodypart. Often we are lacking in intensity. Let’s say someone is lacking in the medial or “side” delts for example. It is hard to train them to failure because when they start to get fatigued you have to swing the weights up to keep working them which takes most of the tension off of them and puts it on the traps and lower back. Because of this, I find that the best way to fully develop the side delts is to train them with alot of volume. Every muscle is like this, it has its own preference and it is on You, the bodybuilder, to figure out what that preference is.
2.Learn more about training that particular bodypart. I believe the best way to learn is hands on experience, however, when bringing up a weak point, often it can help to learn about what its functions are. This will help you understand why you would choose certain movements in your training program, and what the most effective movements are. You can also research different methods of training that bodypart that you haven’t tried before. Assuming you’ve been consistent with your current routine, something completely new will often prompt your body to add some new muscle.
3.Lighten up your weights and focus on mind-muscle connection for a while. Too often we believe that big weights equal big muscles, and while this is true in some cases, such as when doing compound movements, there are some instances where going too heavy can hinder or prevent progress all together. Let’s take rear delts for example. They are a small area that is stimulated with heavy weight when training back, however, if we try to use heavy weights on rear delt specific exercises, the back and traps are going to take over the movements. This prevents us from getting deep fatigue in the rear delts and thus, hinders our development and creates a disproportionate look. The same is true with virtually all bicep movements, most tricep movements (with the exception of close grip bench presses and tricep dips), and generally all isolation movements. A good rule of thumb to follow is to never go below 10-12 reps when doing an isolation movement. This will ensure that you’re using a light enough weight to really utilize the mind-muscle connection. It will also increase time under tension, an important factor for growth. Most importantly though, it will aide you in minimizing the involvement of assisting muscles.
4.Train weak points more frequently. Research shows that muscle protein synthesis is increased for 48-72 hours after training a bodypart. This suggests that training a bodypart every 2-3 days is optimal for growth. If you are only training a muscle once a week, consider cutting your current workout in half and training said bodypart twice a week. Add more as you can handle it. For example, you could train arms on Tuesday and Friday. This will keep muscle protein synthesis elevated and ideally, produce more growth. Also, you could do a main workout for a bodypart, then a feeder workout 3 or 4 days later. A feeder workout is a low volume pump workout where nothing is done to failure. The idea is just to bring blood into the muscle to provide it with nutrients and stretch the fascia.
5.Stretch that bodypart daily. Stretching is one of the easiest, and most overlooked ways to improve your physique. First and foremost, stretching can create good posture. Good posture will automatically make your physique look significantly better, even without changing body composition. Correcting bad posture can lead to better technique and the correction of muscle imbalances. Another benefit is decreased risk of injury. As you know, when you’re injured, you can’t workout. If you can’t workout, you can’t progress. It can also help improve mind-muscle connection. It increases range of motion, which leads to better development. Lastly, as an added benefit, it’s good for you in general.
6.Visualize daily how you would like that bodypart to look. This one is slightly different, as it’s not a physical thing. Visualization is very powerful, just look at the studies on how visualization has affected high level athletes’ performance. I have found that if I can clearly imagine how I want a bodypart to look, and I persist with this vision, that is exactly how that bodypart develops. Give it a try, visualize how you want a bodypart to look while you are training it, and also when you think about it throughout the day. Arnold and many other greats have said this was crucial to their success.
All of these methods will assist you in achieving your goals, but keep in mind, nothing will work unless you do. You have to really want it, and be willing to put in the time. That about wraps it up. Have some weak points? Give some of these methods a try and watch them turn into strengths.