When i started to go to the gym back in the 90’s as a teen, the first thing i thought was ‘ I’m 16 now… i know results take time, but in 2 years i’m gonna be huuuge!’. 10 years later and i am just a maintained size of what i achieved in the first 3 months since 16 years old. As i have previously mentioned, life and all the crazy things it throws at you just make it a certainty that it won’t be a straight forward path to building and maintaining a great physique. After a while that just becomes the norm and after a few years of training, there is only just one thing that really stops you from training. Injury from bad exercise technique.
The gym is a great place to meet and learn from like minded people for sure. But there are many who go to the gym solo, do there work out and believe they are executing there exercises correct 100% of the time. They may not be great communicators or good at asking others for help. Because of this they tend to just keep going and going, then before they know it they start to get problems. (Prevention is better than detection folks)
Below are some videos of some effective exercises that are executed CORRECTLY!
The Best Exercise for LOWER BODY (Thighs and Butt): Frog Squats
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Just like in everyday life situations whether it be a job, change of lifestyle or whatever it is you are trying to improve… if you stay in your comfort zone, it’s not likely that you’ll achieve anything greater than which you already have.
If you do take yourself out of your comfort zone, you’ll probably make many mistakes in trying to improve or change whatever the goal is, but those mistakes will improve ‘you’ as a person and in the long run will lead you to achieve greater things!
The same can be said with weightlifting and exercise. If you lift the same weights or keep to that same treadmill routine for to long with out changing it, you will get used to it and you won’t achieve much more than that until you ANTE UP!
It’s all a part of the ‘no pain, no gain’ game, but the question is, when do you ante up?
I know for sure that this question affects everyone in a big way when working out, as it has certainly affected me in the past, and I’m quite a big enthusiast on ‘change’.
Quite simply, you need to ante up once that exercise starts to become too easy. But even then it is to late. You need to ante up before ‘easy’ sets in… push yourself a little. If everyone in this world pushed themselves to their utmost capabilities, I think the world really would be an amazing place.
If you are doing arm curls for example, and your routine is:
- 8 reps
- 3 sets
- At 15 kg
Aim for failure and start:
- 5 reps
- 3 sets
You might feel like you aren’t achieving much initially, but give it 2-3 weeks, muscle memory will start to set in and it will begin to feel like the norm. Now where would you be if you stuck with the original plan and didn’t ante up?
The bottom line is that in your workouts or in any activity where you are trying to progress and achieve, you need to step things up a gear. You will surprise yourself, and when you do, don’t forget to drop me a comment here and thank me for it. 🙂
How do you get motivated and ANTE UP!
See you in the comments.
Since growing to my adult height of 6’1 at age 16, I decided that it was time to hit the gym as my late high school years were coming to an end. Yes, it is true that I may have kept growing up until the age of 21, but I was happy with my height, yet I simply was not a fan of the skinny man look as an adult.
That was some years back now and from my experience of building muscle, I can conclude that it is definitely harder to gain muscle mass on a tall persons frame than it is for a short person.
Now don’t get me wrong, overtime time I have realised that both body types will build muscle at the same rate, it’s just that tall peoples muscles are distributed over a larger area. This means that taller people will need to work harder to grow their muscles to point where they look ‘HUGE’. But when they do get to that stage, they will definitely adopt the’ stand out from the crowd’ look.
This is what the shorter guys won’t get!
Shorter guys can build muscle faster for sure, because their muscles are distributed over a smaller area, but they will only get the small powerful look and once they reach a certain size, there won’t be much room to grow any further either because of their smaller frame. So although taller guys have a hard time gaining weight, with hard work there will always be room to grow.
Tall persons frame
= Larger bones
= More distance between joint and insertion point of muscle
= Better leverage
Taller persons frame
= Larger ROM (Range of Motion)
= What some argue… weaker!
Taller persons frame
= Larger frame
= More potential for weight gain in workouts
But Shaun… people are neither ‘just tall’ nor ‘just short’, there are many variations of body types!
You are right,
- Long legs vs. short legs
- Long arms vs. short arms
- Long torso vs. short torso
And all kinds of combination’s
But you can discuss those variations of body types at the end of this post. For the purpose of this post lets just assume we are talking about,
Short – typical ectomorph
Tall – typical ectomporph
Lets now look at how both body types are affected with particular exercises to prove the fact that it is harder to build muscle mass when you are taller and that tall people are at a disadvantage.
Pull-ups are one of the best strength gaining and muscle building exercises, and it gets even better when you add a dipping belt to the mix. Despite its greatness, the pull up is simply not a tall persons exercise and someone like myself has to work much harder to get those strength gains (Painful!).
The main issue is that a tall person would have a wider grip compared to a shorter person, and that is what makes it tough.
However, I did work hard, and I know for sure it took me a lot longer to get strength gains than my shorter framed friends. My only real personal advantage was that I didn’t weigh too much to begin with in those early days, so I was able to put out more reps than my heavier taller friends.
Bicep exercises (chin ups/ Curls)
If you are tall then it is very unlikely that you will have short arms, and I know from experience (again, painful!) that a tall person has a tough time building ‘stand out biceps’, even to the stage where they look developed. Taking them to the ‘HUGE’ level is a different matter altogether. (But it can be done). The key difference here is that a shorter person with naturally shorter arms can build big biceps in a fraction of the time that it will take for the tall person to get achieve the same results (damn these long limbs).
This is another short man exercise. For years I’ve met many people that were able to lift a lot more weight than I could on the bench press exercise and I just couldn’t figure out how that was so. I mean… I was and still am a pretty strong guy (In my view) and can lift some pretty serious weights. But every time it comes to bench press, it just takes more work.
- Longer arms!
- Wider grip!
- More Range of Motion to perform a full rep!
Without a doubt, there are advantages and disadvantages to both body types. It may seem like I’m bashing the short guys for having it all, but hey, that’s my experience. The bottom line is that in general, shorter guys can do less and gain muscle mass much quicker than us tall guys. Whichever body type you are, just be sure to replace those exercises that feel awkward to perform with something else, and if a shorter/ taller guy out-performs you at a particular exercise, just mind your own business! Because if you try to challenge them you will get egg on your face, then you WILL be embarrassed.
Which exercises do you have difficulty performing?
What is your body type? Is it a variation of the above?
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It’s a new week people, and I thought I’d start off the week with a discussion that I had with a newbie gym goer over the weekend. Which weights should you buy for a home gym?
Vinyl plates or cast iron plates for your homegym weights routine?
Both have there pro’s and con’s, but lets look at each one to decide what will be best for you.
Just in case you don’t know what these are, they are concrete weights covered by a hard plastic material. If you are a newbie or just starting out with weight training, then this would be a good type of weights plate to start with. One very good reason to start with these beginner weights is so that you can practice on your form so that you can perform all weights exercises properly. That is actually a vital part of your training and where there is still much debate on what is the best way to lift weights. Read more about that here.
They are also the cheapest of the type of weights that you can buy, so if you are on a budget, then these could be great for you. Saying that, it would be good to have a short-term plan for using these weight plates. Why? Well… the problem with these concrete (sometimes sand) weights, is that over time they will break apart. You will inevitably be knocking, dropping and sometimes throwing these weights about every time you use them, and as the level of concrete decreases, so will the level of weight. So you’ll probably get a few years out of them before you will have to switch to…
Cast iron weights
If you are a bit more experienced with lifting weights and are dedicated to building a great home gym, then buying cast iron weights is the way to go. Once you own a set of cast iron weights, they’ll probably be with you for life. Unlike concrete weights, these will not break when they are bashed about and are extremely durable. This is one of the reasons that many gyms will use iron weights rather than concrete weights. But you must be careful with these weights, as dropping them on the floor, or even worse… on your foot, will cause some serious damage. So make sure you have had some experience with handling weights.
Another reason for buying these weights is that you can add more weight plates to a barbell/ dumbbell than concrete weights because they are smaller in size.
There has been some argument whether these weights feel heavier than concrete weights. Over time I can see why the iron weight would be heavier, but initially I think that iron weights are just denser, so they then seem heavier.
If you really want to give your home gym view a polished look, you could always go for chrome weights. They’ll give you all of the same benefits of owning cast iron weights but are nicer to look at. But do note that these are more expensive and can be a b**** to clean.
For most of you reading this, I would suggest buying cast iron weights and if you are a beginner, just take it slow when using them. Yes… vinyl weights will cost less, but they simply will not stand the test of time, and when the concrete breaks apart, that will make your weightlifting workouts efforts very inconsistent.
Do you own a set of home weights? Cast iron or Vinyl weight plates?
See you in the comments.
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TRX Door Anchor
In a previous post (Hotel Workout) I talked about the importance of keeping fit while on vacation, without letting your workout routine disrupt your ‘holiday time’. For my home workouts, i use a chin up bar placed between a door frame. This allows me to maintain my muscle mass while I’m not at the gym. But while I’m away i use a door anchor instead, as i know most hotels don’t build there rooms around fitness and workout needs. My first reaction when i first got introduced to this tool was, ‘Is this thing even safe…what if it slips off the top when I’m using it?’. You are probably thinking that right now, but rest assured, it really is safe to use. I personally use it for building and maintaining my triceps, forearms and back shoulders. But the versatility of this thing is great so you can use it in a variety of ways for different muscle groups and it will work those muscles you may usually miss doing normal exercises. If you:
- Workout at home
- Travel a lot
- Have no time for the gym
Then add this to your collection of home gym accessories if you haven’t already done so.
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Other than the shoulder muscles, I would say that the Latimuss dorsi (Wings) muscles are the biggest contributors in promoting a large muscle bound appearance. These are the muscles that will give you a V-shaped upper back and make you look like these guys,
By having well developed lats, you can get away with wearing certain types of clothes that you can only usually wear confidentially if you have a well-rounded body (Even if you have slightly less developed arms). However, if you do have well-developed arms but have slightly less developed lats, you will just look like an ‘average Joe’ or even worse… adopt an unnatural and imbalanced appearance.
There are many exercises out there that can help you develop this muscle group, but we’ll list my favourite exercises that will help you develop a monstrous pair of lats.
Pull ups (Gironda Sternum)
I have talked about ways to build ‘real’ strength quite a lot in recent weeks, and this exercise is a really good way to do it.
- Grab the pull-up bar with an overhand grip, approximately shoulder width apart.
- Now hang with your arms fully extended.
- As you pull yourself to the bar, have your head lean back as far away from the bar as possible and arch your spine throughout the movement.
- At the upper end of the movement, your hips and legs will be at about a 45-degree angle to the floor. You should keep pulling until your collarbone passes the bar and your lower chest or sternum area touches it.
Warning! The first time you do this exercise you will struggle!
Most people will initially struggle when lifting their own bodyweight, and doing any bodyweight exercises will be a real test of your strength. Although you will probably fail miserably and end up doing,
Your strength will gradually increase. But in the beginning stages you can always get a spotter to help you out. However, you don’t want to rely on that help too often, as too much help will hinder your strength gaining efforts.
You are talking nonsense… this is easy!
If you are reading this and thinking that, then you would have mastered lifting your own body weight. Unless you are some sort of transformer or mutant, there is no way to dramatically increase your weight. But you can do by using a dipping belt.
This accessory will be essential when developing real muscle mass on your lats. What this belt will allow you to do is add extra weight around your waist, making it heavier and harder to lift yourself up. Once you get to this level, then I would say ‘you truly are the best’.
Straight-arm pull downs
This exercise has to be good! Every time I am in the gym there is a queue for this machine. 😐
Putting the sarcasm aside, this is for sure one of my favourite exercises, and the pain that it inflicts never seems to ease up overtime either. This exercise is also lat specific, so you can easily gauge your efforts.
- Stand in front of a lat pull down bar with your arms outstretched towards the bar.
- Place your palms flat on the bar and pull it down to shoulder level.
- Keeping your elbows slightly bent and your wrists locked, pull the bar down towards your body in an arcing motion.
- Once you contracted the lats fully and the bar has touched or come close to your thighs, slowly allow the bar to come back up to the starting position.
- Keep your torso erect!
Dumbbell bent over rows
Back when I first started to workout, this was one of the first exercises I would include in my routine, and it still is a key exercise that I do today. This won’t just build your lats though. It will help build up your entire upper back and even your biceps.
- Kneel over the side of a bench by placing your knee and hand (of the supporting arm) on the bench.
- Position your foot of the opposite leg slightly back to the side.
- Grab the dumbbell from floor.
- Pull the dumbbell to side until it makes contact with your ribs or until your upper arm is just beyond horizontal.
- Return until your arm is extended and shoulder is stretched forward.
- Repeat and continue with opposite arm.
These are the 3 exercises that I KNOW have helped in building the main bulk of my lats, and they are the exercises I have used when I am trying to get back into the groove. The good thing about doing these is that they tend to give the quickest result, which is great for boosting your confidence levels, as that can tend to drop quite frequently. Include these exercises into your routines and YOU WILL build a great pair of super hero lats in no time.
Which exercises do you use to build your lats?
See you in the comments.
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This is a guest post from Jedd Johnson, strength coach, strongman competitor and performer and Grip competitor. Check out his site at http://www.dieselcrew.com.
Killer Compound Exercises
Let me ask you a question. Do you go to the gym to get serious results, or do you go to pass time, hang out, catch up on gossip, and hang out in the air conditioning?
If you go to the gym and train so that you can have a good time, chat, and just listen to the radio in the cool air, then this article isn’t for you. Feel free to check out the next headline.
However, if you go to the gym to put in an hour or more of solid, hard work, work up a serious sweat, and put yourself through a routine with the goal of improving your physical conditioning, then you’ve come to the right place. You’re my kind of guy and I want to help you out.
I know that you are hitting it hard in the gym, never missing the workout, and I want to give you a handful of gold nuggets that are going to help you be more productive.
The fact is, many of the hardest workers in the gym make the mistake of incorporating an over-abundance of isolation movements.
Now, I’ll admit, I love hitting dumbbell curls as much as anyone, but the problem with dumbbell curls, tricep push-downs, leg curls, and leg extensions is that they are isolation movements, meaning they isolate one muscle group and have activity at one joint.
THE KEY TO BUILDING SERIOUS MUSCLE IS COMPOUND MOVEMENTS.
Compound movements are just the opposite of isolation movements in that they involve multiple muscle groups all at the same time. These movements are effective at producing natural testosterone in your body, which means you are going to be out-growing your tee shirts in no time.
How do you know you’re working a Compound Movement? The detail that sets compound movements apart from other lifts is movement over multiple joints. This movement over multiple joints is what begins to involve more musculature into the lift, making you work harder, causing a spike in your testosterone production, and resulting in more muscle growth on your body.
Check out this illustration for an easy way to tell isolation movements apart from compound movements.
Side Lateral Raise
The Side Lateral Raise is a common exercise for generating a monstrous set of shoulders. With the Side Lateral Raise, there is movement at one joint, the shoulder. The muscles involved in the movement are the deltoids, but aside from them, not much musculature is taxed in the movement.
Standing Military Press
The Standing Military Press is another common shoulder exercise, but in this case, there is movement involved at the shoulder, and at the elbow. Throw in the fact that you are standing, and this requires even more coordination and muscular involvement, but even if you perform this lift seated, you will still involve more muscle than Side Laterals alone.
Now that you understand the concept of compound exercises, it’s time to know which ones to put into your routine. The following three exercises are what I call the Killer Compound Exercises. These lifts NEED to be in your weekly routine starting now. You need to look at where you can start implementing them starting this week.
When you do these, make sure you remember to get down to parallel or below. Quarter squats are not going to do anything for you except make you lose cool points.
The Workout: Form is very important with Back Squats and since they involve so much musculature, your form can break down easily, especially if you are not used to doing them. You don’t want to bring about an injury from poor form, so stick with singles, doubles and triples with the Back Squat. Because I keep the reps lower, I usually hit several warm-up sets with sub-maximal weights and then do 5 work sets. I hit Back Squats every week, usually on Sunday or Monday, or whenever my training cycle starts over.
Also considered a lower body movement, the Deadlift hit the legs and lower back well, as well as the lats, rhomboids, erectors, and traps. This movement is great for targeting huge masses of muscle, even causing tension to be produced in the shoulders and arms. Your hand strength will be taxed with this one as well, so make sure to get your grip on!
The Workout: Again, Deadlift form is important to get the most out of this exercise. You should feel every bit of muscle in your body tensing up as you pull the bar off the floor to the lockout position. When performing the deadlift, I like to get warmed up really well and then work singles. I also like to work triples for speed, but I don’t usually go up much higher than 3 reps per set. I like 5 work sets for the Deadlift as well. After that, my form usually begins to go.
Pulling an object from the floor and pushing overhead is plain and simple a brute strength movement. It also involves a ton of musculature to perform and should be included in your program if you are truly serious about getting big and strong.
For the Clean and Press, you can use the bar that is in your gym, or an odd object, like keg or sandbag.
As always with compound movements, you must pay attention to your form so that you can do more reps and generate more testosterone and make more muscle.
The three lifts above are what I consider staples of my routine. I have done them for years and I plan on doing them for years to come. These full body movements will make a huge difference in your training. Start taking your before photos now, because in 16 weeks you are going to look like a completely different person.
In addition to these three core lifts, for every muscle group, there is a good example of a compound movement to fit the need. For as hard as you work in the gym, you should make sure these lifts are in your cycle as well to get the most out of the time you are putting in the gym. Here they are:
- Quads – Lunges
- Hamstrings – Romanian Deadlifts
- Biceps – Power Curls
- Triceps – Close Grip Bench Press
- Upper Back – Pull-ups
- Lower Back – Deadlifts
- Chest – Bench Press
- Shoulders – Military Press
I want to know what you think about these movements once you try them out, so please leave a comment here, or come check out my website, http://www.DieselCrew.com. We train for and compete in Powerlifting, Strongman and Grip competitions. We have tons of articles and videos up as well as free give-aways and newsletter, so please feel free to come check us out.
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Up until this present day, I have always considered myself to be a calm, cool and collective type of guy, and it would take something really ‘out there’ to piss me off and provoke me to cause harm to anyone. But if there is one place where I have almost been lead to cause harm to anyone, it is in the gym.
Below I’ll list some key do’s and don’ts and the gym etiquette that you should all follow in order to prevent anyone from being provoked at the gym. Once you do follow, we can all get along just fine at our favourite gyms.
Keep your distance
Whether I’m doing squats, barbell curls, lateral raises or standing shoulder press, stay out of the way dammit!
Every now and again there would be some idiot that would walk right in front of me to get to the weights rack or close enough to cause a distraction.
First off this is potentially dangerous to both the individual and myself. Secondly, a mirror is needed to keep good form. Walking in front of it and breaking up my form is the ultimate way to provoke me and guarantee a beat down.
One machine at a time, please!
We all have to use the equipment fairly at the gym, but every now and again you’ll find some lounger messing about and bouncing around the machines. Usually it would be beginners or old people trying to get fit.
Use one machine at a time. Use it until you are completely finished with it then move onto the next and do the same. If we all follow that rule we will all be happy.
Put the weights back on the rack
If you are in a good gym then you’ll often get one of the staff members re-racking the weights when things get messy. But in-between that time there needs to be rules. There is nothing more annoying than being ‘in the zone’, moving to another exercise, then finding the weights that you want are scattered around on different machines.
Put the weights back as you use them (unless someone requests to leave them on). Be bold at times. If you see the culprit causing the crime, confront them! Politely ask them to put them back.
I don’t want your sweat on my clothes
It’s the gym and most people will sweat, stinky sweat or not, sweat is sweat! Sweat carries bacteria and it’s an easy way for infections and diseases to spread. If you leave the machines sweaty, clean it up, PLEASE!
Always bring a towel. I’m known to sweat a lot, buckets in fact, so I always bring a towel. If you are in a good gym then they may keep disinfectant around.
Slow ballads is not gym music, wear head phones
You are probably thinking ‘who the hell listens to slow music when exercising’? I don’t know these people personally, but I have seen them in action. Running on the treadmill blurting out country music or pop ballads. This is highly non-motivating music. The gym usually has the TV or radio on, but when there isn’t you can hear others music.
To end all arguments with this, just wear headphones!
Don’t hit on all the girls (They all think we do anyway)
Most ladies at the gym are there to workout. Hitting on them with brute force will piss them off more than anything else. But if you are a natural smoothie and get yourself a date then you may want to consider changing gyms. If things don’t workout then I’m pretty certain she’ll be telling every one what a jerk you are, even worse, how crap you might have been in bed. (Her word against yours)
I have talked about this before. If you really want a date just go to a bar. Most people there are looking for the same thing. One-night stands or what ever.
You talk so loud, please lower your tone
Depending on what type of gym you are in, this could be acceptable… or not. If your gym is like a barbershop, then loud debates are sometimes acceptable. If so it’s probably the culture of that gym.
If not the gym you are will be more conservative, and you have to lower your tone. Pushing weights and trying to concentrate while someone is shouting in their conversation is highly distractive.
When you are pushing weights you sometimes have to scream. This is especially the case when doing bench press. Every rep counts and quite often requires a scream. But every now and again you will get extreme screamers.
Just cut it out, you really don’t need to. If you want to scream get a sex change and take yourself to Wimbledon, theirs no screaming rules in tennis… yet!
Wash your stinking pits!
As I said, we will sweat. But keep your sweating till after your workout and not before please! There is nothing worse than finishing a heavy run on a treadmill, gasping for air and then swallowing a waft of someone’s deadly body odor! Now I am nice, but when ever this happens, I won’t hesitate to tell you that you STINK!
Do not fear the soap! This is not prison and you will not be anal raped.
Heavy lifters are ready to pounce
Most bodybuilders are pretty cool guys, but every single one I have met seems to have uber amounts of testosterone in them. Because of this it seems they are ever ready to squeeze you into a pulp at any given opportunity should you annoy them.
Talk to me after i finish my set
I may have developed a nice set of pectorals and bulging biceps, and that may have impressed you. But if you are going to ask me a question, at least wait till after my set. Talking to me during will make me want to halt my set, catch my breath and provoke me to giving you a beat down!
1) Don’t ask questions during my set
2) Don’t ask questions during my break (I’m out of breath)
3) Make sure your questions require a yes or no answer
That’s that. Its not often I get things off of my chest but that about wraps it up. Follow these gym etiquette rules, and pass them on to your gym buddies, and then I think we will all live happily ever after while exercising at the gym.
See you in the comments.
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Whenever the summer months begin to approach and the clothes on peoples back become less and less, you will inevitably see people flaunt their muscle sculpted and toned bodies that they have been working on during the winter months, and so they should. But one thing I do see every now and again is guys with huge arms…but not the whole circumference! What they would tend to have is large tricep muscles but small bicep muscles. So their arms would appear large in size only from a side or back viewpoint.
This is not the result you want!
Whenever you see someone with arms as I have described above, then they have been focusing to hard on one muscle group too much, in this case, the triceps. In general the tricep muscles are bigger than bicep muscles, and they will be the main muscles of the arm that stand out as your muscles grow. To prevent this one must work the biceps with exercises such as chin ups or any exercise that requires a pulling movement. After this it is then good to get into a habit of leaving bicep curls exercises till the end of your workout. This will ensure that your biceps are evenly worked compared to your triceps.
Even more important
The above is how you ensure a good balance and workout of both arm muscles. But what one must first acknowledge is that the arm muscles are still only facilitators of moving the larger muscle groups. Because of this, the arm muscles have no choice but to get stronger when the bigger muscle groups gets worked. Bigger muscle groups that the arms assist with would be with exercises such as:
- Bench-press (Chest, Shoulders muscles)
- Various row exercises (Back muscles)
- Military press (Shoulder muscles)
- Chin ups/ pull-ups (Several muscles)
If you focus on working on the above major muscle groups with the said exercises, your biceps and triceps will improve in strength and size naturally.
The key thing here is to:
- Keep your main focus on a full body workout
- Keep specific exercises for your triceps and biceps (or when weaknesses occur)
The reason why one may get carried away and focus on the arms only, is because they are the stand out muscles that every one will see with most of the clothes you wear. And this mindset is wrong. However, I believe there are exceptions.
Take someone like myself for example. Being 6’1 with longer legs and arms than most individuals, I have a much harder time building my biceps and tricep muscles to a reasonable size, compared to someone who maybe shorter than myself. So while the bigger muscle groups like shoulders back and chest develop naturally, my arms (and legs) tend to get left behind, even though I began my workouts with a ‘fully body workout’ mind set.
Keep working hard, be consistent and natural results will come!
And most importantly of all… Get enough > sleep!
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Over the years I have met a lot of people in various gyms. Every now and again I would meet some one that would complain about one arm, leg or chest muscle being bigger than the other. In general neither both sides of the human body are equal, and any differences that you see are usually only spotted by yourself. But in regards to working out, muscles that are bigger than the other may sometimes be noticeable by the masses. This isn’t really a huge problem, but it does make you feel like a bit of a human freak of nature 😮 . It made the guys I met feel like that, and myself. But mine started to occur as a result from a shoulder injury. The obvious reasons for this occurrence would be from performing inconsistent repetitions in your exercises… and/or with UNEVEN weights! . The solution to that problem is simple… learn how to count! (Dummy)
But It can also happen for a number of VALID reasons to:
- Reduced circulation or innervation’s (which is basically the amount of nerves going to the muscle) to your smaller muscles
- Previous injuries
For me it was always injury that caused most of this imbalance. To fix it, I would deflate in size, correct and then inflate again. But after a while I found that, that was not the best way to go about solving the problem (What can I say, I was young 😐 )
If you have suffered like myself or if you look like the guy in the picture :o, then the following (detailed) techniques will help you to even out those lagging body parts once and for all!
“One and Two and One” Reps
This is a dumbbell technique that increases the training volume for the smaller muscle groups. For this technique, you’ll use the same dumbbells in both hands.
Start with one rep with the smaller arm. For example, if you’re doing curls, do one dumbbell curl with your left arm. Now do a single rep with BOTH arms (right and left) at the same time. Immediately do another rep with the smaller arm again.
Your smaller body part will end up getting 50% more work than the larger side.
“One and Two and One” Sets
This approach is very similar to the rep technique above. But this time, you will do one set of an exercise for just that single side, rest, then do a set that works both sides. Then you’ll go back and do a set with just the smaller side again. This will also increase the “smaller-side” workload by about 50%.
This approach also utilizes dumbbells rather than barbells in order to allow for single-limb movements.
This “staggered set” approach is more effective for leg exercises than the “staggered rep” technique explained above, simply because it’s tough to find an exercise that you can do the “rep” technique effectively with. For legs, you will follow the exact same routine, doing a single-leg set, then a double-leg set, and then a single leg set.
Uneven Weights (The cause can be the solution!)
To do this technique, hold a dumbbell that is somewhat heavier in the hand of your weaker side. This can be a 5 to 10 pound or more difference, depending on the exercise. Do your set as you normally would, but stop completely when your weak side can’t continue.
This technique increases the resistance on the weaker side, helping to bring it up to the level of the stronger side. Stopping the exercise when the weak side is fatigued ensures that the strong side does not get stimulated as much. This allows the weaker side to more easily catch up.
Use Dumbbells For All of Your Exercises
Dumbbells force each side of the body to take full responsibility for their part in the movement. When using machines or barbells, the strong side can have a tendency to take over the movement and assist the weak side, limiting its development.
Simply switching to completely dumbbell-based training for a period of time can help bring up the lagging part quickly without even having to use these special techniques.
Finish each body part workout with a single set of negative training for the weak side limb. For example, if your left bicep is weaker, when you’ve finished your regular bicep workout, do one set of negative-only training for the left bicep.
One of my favourite ways to do negative training for biceps is using the Preacher Bench. The bench allows you to stabilize your upper arm more effectively than if you are standing.
Sit on the bench and hold a heavy dumbbell in one hand (the weight should be just a little higher than your 1 rep max). Now use your other arm to help with the “up” phase of the movement.
Once you’re at the top, start to lower the weight down. Fight gravity all the way down – don’t just try and slow the weight down…actively try and lift it up while gravity is forcing it down. This is the most effective way to execute negative training.
Have your free hand ready to slow the dumbbell to keep it from slamming your arm down if you lose strength.
This technique will help to build strength in the target muscle, helping to address the innervation issues that may be causing the lagging development.
Targeted High-Rep Training
Start each body part workout with one light, high-rep set for the weak side muscle. For example, for a smaller or weaker right triceps, start each tricep workout with one set of high-rep single-arm pushdowns. High-rep in this case means 50+ reps.
This very high rep set will help to increase circulation to the target muscle, improving its ability to gain mass. This increase in circulation means more available blood, which means more nutrients get to the muscle, which means more muscle growth!
If you’ve got a lesser-developed muscle on one side of your body, give these training techniques a try. They can help you rapidly even out differences between your two sides. Then you will feel like less of a human freak of nature :).
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