Unless you’re blessed like Ronnie Coleman or some of the top IFBB professional bodybuilders, you most likely will struggle with a few bodyparts that are far behind, or slightly behind, the rest of your bodyparts. Here are a few common rules for forcing stubborn body parts to grow.
#1 – Isolation
Compound exercises are the king of mass builders – there’s no arguing that. Unfortunately, when you force heavy weight with compound exercises that use multiple bodyparts, it’s easy for your stronger bodyparts to take over, and for your form to adjust (even if not purposely) in order to lift the weight more efficiently. This is the prime reason why “newbie gains” are so noticeable – not so much from building new muscle mass, but because changes in technique have them finding the angles and leverages where they are most effecient. The solution? Isolation exercises that force the muscle to do the work. Examples of a compound exercises that use the triceps is the bench press, where an overhead dumbbell extension forces the tricep to lift the weight completely on it’s own.
#2 – Form Check
This ties in with isolation because without good form, you will not achieve proper isolation. Concentrating on performing the exercise correctly without swinging, jerking, and other efforts to move the weight will ensure that you properly target the muscle group. If you’re able to lift heavy and your form does not degrade, then that is fine.
#3 – Rep Schemes
Changing your rep schemes with the exercises is a tool that many people don’t utilize. Because bodybuilding is set so strongly in the 8-15 rep range for producing hypertrophy, which is generally a sound rule, it’s important to realize a muscle needs to be stimulated in different ways to continually grow. We all don’t have the same muscle fiber makeup, and one person might have a greater total amount of slow-twitch muscle fibers in their legs, for example, than someone else and may benefit – even if only slightly – by incorporating higher, almost endurance-based sets. Take a set of squats to 25 reps every once in a while. Perform a reverse-pyramid drop set – there are principals to training but break these “molds” once in a while and you will notice improvement.
#4 – Frequency
Increase the amount of times you train a certain body part per week, and change the type of training you do occasionally on each day. For example, try training legs three times per week, switching between a “power” day where you may train with rep ranged 3-6 on most of your sets, and a “hypertrophy” day for the next leg day, where the reps are increased. Again, the focus is on stimulating the muscle in a way that it is not used to being stimulated. This doesn’t only have to be in relation to an individual training session.
#5 – Focus Your Nutrition
Plan your cheat meals/cheat days on the days that you’ll be training your weaker body parts. By doing so, you’ll be creating a spike in insulin and if you experiment with carbohydrate cycling, the super-saturation of glycogen stores along with the increased nutrient partitioning will put the muscle group you’re working on that individual day in the best possible scenario for growth. Along with bodypart-specific nutrition concept, it’s important to constantly, day-after-day, keep a diet that promotes muscle growth. A diet high in protein and carbohydrates (but most importantly, CALORIES) will do the trick.