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You are a criminal. That’s right. You are guilty of one of the most heinous infractions an iron-lover can possibly commit: bodypart neglect. The evidence: your imbalanced physique. While you have been incredibly diligent at building commendable pecs, lats, quads, bi’s and tri’s, you are overlooking – perhaps unintentionally – some other bodyparts that are sorely in need of some growth. While the particulars vary from lifter to lifter, four of the most shunted bodyparts include calves, hamstrings, rear delts and forearms. Here are some quick tips on how you can put an end to the neglect and start evening out your progress.
Guys, it is time to work on those things that are attached to your lower leg. Those pathetic, twiggy appendages are starting to draw looks – and not the kind that Dexter Jackson gets walking through the Olympia Expo, either. If you are one of those guys that works out in a tank top and track pants and works upper body only, do yourself a favor and get cracking on your calves. You need both straight-leg and bent-leg varieties of calf raises to nail all those muscles on the back side.
Straight-leg calf presses (including donkey presses and 45-degree calf presses) attack the superficial gastrocnemius, the heart-shaped muscle you typically associate with impressive calves. Bent-leg calf presses such as the seated calf press bombard the underlying soleus. And growth there – guess what? – pushes your gastrocs out and gives the appearance of a larger calf musculature.
Also, use heavy weight that keeps your reps in the hypertrophy zone of 8-12 reps and take it to momentary muscle failure.
Fiber wise calves are no different then other muscles, it is harder to grow them since the lower leg calf complex is a more efficient lever then your other body arts. This means you have to work them harder, not more often or with higher reps, then your other muscles to get them to respond. And as with all bodyparts, if you find that something isn’t working, just switch things up. A new exercise, exercise order, weight range or intensity technique is almost guaranteed to get your growth back on track.
A tough nut to crack, but working them will do you a lot of good. Having large quads with small hamstrings is recipe for disaster if you do anything more athletic then climbing a set of stairs. Hamstrings are one of those muscle groups you don’t fully appreciate until you suffer a massive injury.
For most, when you do legs, you’ll add a single hamstring exercise for three sets. This is simply not enough. You need at least six sets – ideally more – in order to bring about some balance with your quads. Use a full range of exercises, but be sure to include romanian deadlifts, where movement is initiated at the hips, along with real hamstring isolaters like leg curls. For every set of isolated quad movements, pair it with a hamstring exercise. Not only will you likely enjoy greater overall leg mass, but you’ll be auspiciously injury-free for much longer.
Have a rounded upper back? Pecs pulling you forward? These are both pretty common for most men because we tend to concentrate on big thickening muscles like those in the chest rather than postural muscles like the rear delts.
If you bench and do a lot of other chest training, chances are that your anterior delts are way larger then your posterior ones. It is time to add isolated rear delt flyes, which can be done using machines, cables, bands and dumbbells. But also, use varying wide-grip hand positions in your pulls rather then always focusing on mid- to narrow-grips for lifting heavy. By doing bent-over and seated row type movements with your arms out wide and elbows up, you bring those hard-to-reach rear delts into play. The total weight you lift may suffer slightly, but your physique will greatly improve.
Want Popeye-like forearms? Of course you do. But here’s the news, buddy: You’ve got to train for them. There are two main ways to help grow those gripper muscles. First, throw your straps out. That’s right, do your pull-ups, deadlifts and rows without straps and force your grip to respond. The other, of course, is to isolate the forearms by doing both wrist and finger flexion and extensions. Many people will do long holds (like hanging dumbbells beside you and hanging on for dear life) but like all muscles, the key to good growth and strength is using heavy weights. Shoot for 10-rep sets using as heavy as weight as possible on wrist curls and extensions. Tag forearm training onto the end of your arms workout and you’ll have bigger, more aesthetic-looking arms.