One of the most hotly debated topics in the bodybuilding community, especially amongst trainers, coaches, and “gurus,” is whether or not it is possible to “alter the shape of a muscle.”
This is a rather complex subject, and one that I have pondered quite a bit myself over my 25+ years as competitive bodybuilder and physique transformation expert.
In discussing this with dozens of colleagues I have found that some believe that no matter what you do in the gym, your muscles are capable of doing just one thing – getting bigger.
However, others feel that the inclusion of certain “magical exercises” can somehow “override” the “biological script” of one’s musculature possesses.
As for me, I guess you can say that I fall somewhere in the middle.
While I am quite certain we cannot tweak the predetermined “genetic map” of our individual muscles, I do believe that by utilizing specific movements, angles, grips, and planes of motion one can affect varying groups of motor unit pools, leading to accelerated growth in a particular “head” or section (of a complex muscle).
In other words, it’s important to understand that you likely have more control over how your body develops (as a whole) than you may realize.
Related: How to Use Micro-Progressions For Non-Stop Growth
So before you shrug your shoulders and blame “faulty” genetics for your disproportionate physique or inadequate muscle “shape,” just make sure you have explored everything possible training-wise to address your issues.
Trust me when I say that a little “outside-the-box” thinking, combined with extraordinary drive, intensity and focus can go a very long way in the gym – and if you need some assistance in these areas, then read on (I have just what you need)!
5 Workouts to Build Your Lagging Body Parts
While we cannot alter our genetics, or change where the origins and insertions of our muscles lie, we CAN target (but not isolate) certain areas or heads of complex muscles.
Over my 25+ years as a competitive bodybuilder, trainer and prep coach, I have taken notice of the most common “physique weaknesses” and created workouts (using a “hybrid” form of my P/RR/S™ training system) to address these lagging areas.
Hopefully one or more of the workouts below will speak directly to you, and assist your own journey towards creating the most proportionate, aesthetic, and symmetrical body your genetic blueprint will allow.
Target #1 – The Shallow Upper Chest
|1. Hammer Machine Incline Press||3||4-6|
|2. Smith Machine Reverse Grip Bench Press||3||13-15, 10-12, 7-9|
|3a. Incline Dumbbell Press||3||7-9|
|3b. Low Cable Crossover||3||10-12|
Target #2 – The Missing Mid-Back
|1. Wide Grip Bent Over Row||3||4-6|
|2. Wide Grip Pull Down||3||13-15, 10-12, 7-9|
|3. Seated High Cable Rope Pull||3||13-15, 10-12, 7-9|
|4a. Rear Delt Machine Fly||2||10-12|
|4b. Barbell Shrug (Behind Back)||2||7-9|
Target # 3 – Triceps Long Head Helper
|1. Incline Overhead Dumbbell Extensions||3||4-6|
|2. Smith Machine Close Grip Bench Press||3||13-15, 10-12, 7-9|
|3a. Bent Over Single Arm Cable Tricep Kickback||2||10-12|
|3b. Single Arm Reverse Grip Pushdown||2||7-9|
Target # 4 – Sneak a Biceps Peak
|1. Barbell Preacher Curl||3||4-6|
|2. Reverse Barbell Curl||3||13-15, 10-12, 7-9|
|3a. Seated Overhead Cable Curls||2||10-12|
|3b. Alternating Hammer Curls||2||7-9|
Target # 5 – Lateral Delt Destroyer
|1. Wide Grip Cable Upright Row||3||4-6|
|2a. Seated Dumbbell Lateral Raise||3||10-12|
|2b. Smith Machine Shoulder Press||3||10-12|
|3. Single Arm Cable Lateral Raise||3||13-15, 10-12, 7-9|
Now it is time to make a serious impact in the gym, on the beach, or even the stage!
Preparing to Take Your Muscles to the Next Level
Prior to even touching a barbell you must first make sure that all of your body’s systems are primed for the task at hand. Your hormones must be optimized; neurotransmitters precisely balanced; and energy substrates filled and ready.
Additionally your focus should be laser-like, concentration fully maximized, and mental drive at an all-time high. These are the keys necessary for tapping into previously untouched muscle fibers, pushing weights you once shied away from, and taking your workouts from adequate to extraordinary.
Luckily for you, me - and everyone who will accept nothing less than maximizing the full potential of our muscle-making genes, there are a number of wickedly effective pre-workout ingredients out there that when dosed effectively, will give you the “tools” to push your intensity level and performance far beyond anything you achieved before.
But what are these ingredients? Read on while I give you the 411 on these ingredients and what they do to make you grow like mad!
This amino acid compound improves training intensity, endurance and recovery speed. This is accomplished via several mechanisms including increased nitric oxide levels, enhanced blood flow to muscles, reduced levels of ammonia /lactic acid, and more rapid replenishment of PCr (phospho-creatine) stores.
This naturally occurring beta amino acid that enhances strength and power, boosts muscular endurance, and increases overall performance output. By raising your muscular levels of Carnosine, beta alanine acts as a precursor to nitric oxide production (which allows for greater blood flow) and helps reduce acids within muscles, which delays muscular fatigue so you can work harder for longer.
LCLT is one of the world’s most bio-available forms of L-Carnitine, which means it is utilized very efficiently within the body. The L-Tartrate part of this combo not only stabilizes the Carnitine, it feeds the energy cycle in your body called the Krebs Cycle.
L-Carnitine supplementation has been shown to not only assist in burning body fat for fuel, but can also boost energy, endurance and overall performance. L-Carnitine reduces lactic acid levels within muscle tissue, while sparing muscle glycogen, which will help athletes train more intensely for greater periods of time.
This highly abundant intracellular amino acid plays several key roles that can lead to enhnaced exercise performance and lean mass accrual. Like creatine, it draws water into muscle cells, thereby acting as a powerful “cell volumizer”. Increased cell volume makes muscles appear fuller/larger, and creates a more anabolic “environment” for hypertrophy.
Related: Pre-Workout Nutrition - 4 Strategies to Improve & Maximize Results
Taurine also helps regulate water and electrolyte balance in the blood, and within cells, which may help to prevent muscle cramping. Additionally, this versatile amino acid has be shown to increase a muscle’s ability to generate force, leading to more intense contractions and greater release of nitric oxide. Taurine is one of the least known and most under-appreciated pump ingredients out there.
N-Acetyl-L-Cysteine is a modified version of the amino acid cysteine, and can be found readily throughout the body. Supplementation with this important nutrient serves many vital purposes for the hard training athlete and bodybuilder (in regards to health and performance).
Its most celebrated effect is its capacity to provide protection from oxidation via its direct conversion to the powerful antioxidant glutathione, and ability to increase glutathione-produing enzymes.
NAC is a scavenger of damaging free radicals, supports liver health, and also has been shown to poitively affect energy production, neurotransmitter balance, mood, post exercise recovery, EPO/blood volume levels, and to foster better blood glucose control.
Alpha-GPC (or α-Glycerol-phosphoryl-choline) is one of the best nootropic compounds available for enhancing memory, concentration, mood and focus. This in and of itself can increase one’s ability to train with greater intent, drive and intensity. Additionally, Alpha-GPC has been shown to stimulate the production of human growth hormone.
Alpha-GPC crossed the BBB (blood-brain-barrier) easily and supplies a highly bioavailable form of choline to the brain. The brain uses it to increase levels of acetylcholine which is essential to the functioning of the brain. It is the raw material that effectively enhances focus.
This powerful nootropic acts as a powerful antioxidant and improves cognitive function. It has also been show to improve sleep patterns, while reducing both depression and anxiety. Lion’s Mane extract increases the level of NGF (Nerve Growth Factor). This ingredient is realitively new on the scene, but neuroscientists are very excited about the potential for this ingredient.
In published studies, it has been shown to alleviate cognitive decline in older people. But the mechanism of action, from a cognitive performance standpoint is really exciting. The brain is comprised of neurons (or nerves) and the prospect of increasing the factor responsible for the growth of nerves from a natural source like this is astounding!
Synephrine, Higenamine and Hordenine
Each of these ingredients are in the same family as ephedrine and while they don’t work precisely as well as ephedrine, depending on the dosage, you can achieve a very similar result.
Supplementation with these compounds has been shown to increase energy expenditure, enhance the rate of fat oxidation, and increase metabolic rate, all of which can lead to improved body composition.
Additonally, they have been shown to augment resistance exercise performance by boosting total repetitions, power, velocity, and muscular endurance.
From a strictly pre-workout standpoint, putting these ingredients to work for you will produce motivation, get you “in the zone” and help you push harder. From a fat loss stand point, these ingredients have been shown to amp up your metabolic rate and accelerate the oxidation (or burning) of fat while training.
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