Monday, October 26, 2015

Coaxing Size and Strength from Difficult to Train Areas


A previous article focused on building up lagging body parts Work your Lagging Body Parts the Hardest  That article focused more on aesthetics. That still applies. But let’s focus a little more on simply building mass for size, higher calorie burning capacity and safety from injury as well as aesthetics and look at ways to add size and strength to those areas that are difficult to coax into growth.

The muscles or muscle groups we’ll discuss are notoriously difficult to coax into growth in both size and strength. It’s important that you understand the reasons.
Then we will talk about set/rep schemes that are proven to work on those hard to grow muscles plus some real world activities to make them grow.

The hardest muscle groups to get to grow
·        Calves-they carry almost your entire body weight for a large part of the day and adapt to that time and weight
·        Deltoid- They are adapted to moving your arm/shoulder in almost every conceivable direction for long periods of time. But a joint that flexible can’t handle extremely heavy weights. So a lot of volume is the only answer.
·        Trapezoid- Partly responsible for holding you head (average of 8 pounds) for many hours each day and adapted accordingly.
·        Quadriceps (thigh)-Not many people squat with heavy loads anymore in their everyday life. As a result many people have difficulty with squats as an exercise. And sometimes this can’t be overcome after decades of sitting

Some of these issues are genetic but most are a result of decades of modern work related environments.  

Set/Rep Schemes

The set/rep schemes we’ll describe will work on any muscle or group of muscles. But don’t use them on all body parts in every workout. The intensity required for these hard to train body parts would usually be too much for an everyday program. Instead concentrate on 2 or 3 muscles at a time for a four week cycle. Then switch to another muscle. Simply continue your usual program for other muscles or muscle groups (assuming your regular program is working for you).

·        You are going to use a weight that you can lift for only 6 reps with good form on the first set. Use the same weight for all subsequent sets.
·        Rest between sets should not exceed 20-30 seconds (Reduce the rest periods to minimum)
·        The second and all subsequent sets should go to momentary muscle failure
·        Continue performing sets until you have completed 30 total reps with good form. Take as many sets as necessary to complete the 30 reps.
·        Do this set/rep scheme 3 times per week for 4 weeks
·        Use a different exercise for each of the 3 workout days (seated calf raise, standing calf raise and donkey raise for calves, for example)

An alternative would be to pick 2 different muscles or muscle groups and alternate exercises instead of resting between sets. In other words “superset” the two exercises. Choose only opposing muscles (bicep-tricep, for example) or one upper body muscle and one lower body muscle (Traps and calves, for example)

Real world activities

I’ll give you some examples but don’t hesitate to dream up your own examples.
Just remember that coaxing these muscles require intensity and volume. What occupation or sports activity exhibit the best development for each muscle?

Deltoids (shoulders)- Look at boxers. During a 15 round fight they are holding as much s 16 oz on each hand for up head high for up to 45 minutes and throwing hundreds of punches from all angles. You may not have 45 minutes to spend on your deltoids  but a few 3 minute rounds of shadow boxing with 5 pound dumbbells (more or less) would work.

Calves – A lot of jumping and a lot of running. Go to a basketball practice and watch the player jumping to reach as high as possible to touch a spot on the wall for 10 to 15 minutes (or more at a time)

Biceps – Which athletes have the most developed biceps? Usually gymnasts. Does your gym have TRX equipment or rings? Use them.

Quadriceps (thighs) – Cyclists. We’re not talking about stationary bikes for long periods or spin class. Those won’t hack it. You need uphill climbs with maximum

Send your questions to

Please share using the icons below

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are moderated and will posted once approved