I feel this is an interesting topic, and hopefully others do, too. I want to know (mostly from those who have enough size/strength/experience to even know what body parts are 'stubborn') how ya'll have approached those body parts that didn't come easy too you. This isn't asking Prof X how his traps and front delts got so big, or asking Holy Mac what he did to get 35" inch arms; no, I want to know what you guys have done to bring the body parts that you considered 'bad' up to respectable levels, or even potentially into strong points!
A good example I can think of is BugeishaAD. He always talks about how horrible his arm genetics are, but if you see his recent pics, he has REALLY brought them up in the last few years. Ebomb has done the same with his lat width, succeeding in bringing up his V-taper tremendously in the last year or so.
Also, I know nearly everyone will say their calves... so hopefully this thread will bring about someone who has shitty calf insertions, BUT worked hard to build them up to respectable levels.
P.S. Sorry PX, HolyMac, Ebomb, and Bug, for putting ya'll on blast like that, but I figured giving examples of that caliber would allow people to understand what I'm talking about.
My lats were a big lagging bodypart of mine that I brought up, so was my chest...
It all really came down to doing the basic exercises, but learning how to do them correctly. Using a full range of motion, and getting a stretch at the bottom of every repetition, doing multiple sets to failure of anywhere from 6-12 reps.
Pullups (full stretch, chin up to the bar, no kipping or arching), barbell rows (wider grip, standing on a box and bringing the bar down to my toes for a stretch, then all the way up), and tbar rows (every rep down to the floor) were how I brought my back up. Flat bench (no hard arching, wide grip, no leg drive, light pec stretch at the bottom of each rep and pec squeeze at the top), incline bb bench (same as flat), and dumbbell flies (getting the biggest stretch possible) were how I brought my chest up (doesn't look like a lot but every muscle group was trained like this twice a week).
I had been doing the same thing with my thighs for years and they had always been my greatest bodypart. Full ROM, overloading the stretch, freeweight exercises. Nothing fancy required.
My advice about lagging bodyparts is to first look at whether or not you're truly doing the BASICS correctly, before you go looking for any special protocol.
tbf, I don't think ebombs lats were ever a weak part
hops off ebombs nuts
Triceps have improved from pathetic to not-so-pathetic by doing several sets of super strict rope pulldowns before my close grip bench press sets and in between my weighted dip sets. Still a long way to go though and I'm not big enough to post here so.... yeah.
I'm still trying to bring up my chest. My tris/shoulders are so overpowering. I could close-grip 20lbs less than what I could bench. What was working for me was gripping bars and machines 2" wider.
I'd do fly movements at an incline but instead or bring the arms straight across I would bring the weight down and to the side to get a complete stretch from top to bottom, holding for 3 secs, and then flexing through the movement on the way up, stopping the dumbbells just outside of shoulder width and squeezing for 2-3 seconds.
My arms have been my thorn in the flesh, I tried what other people said works the best which was
heavy close grip benching
higher reps for arms, like 8-12-15 and high volume
this did not work at all. I had a 365x5 close grip bench and my arms were still only 17.5, I actually have had to start training my triceps lighter, with a huge improve to form to tricep extensions and my biceps ive gone a lot heavier, 6 reps and less volume to get them to 18 lol. still with the size of my arm bellies I will still probably have to be 270+ to see 19-20 inch arms
i think also you gotta find the money exercises, for me, standing dumbbel curls, cable curls do absolutely nothing for me, I have to go for the heavy preacher curls and concentration curls to get anything
at least i have great calf genetics though, id hate to have to bring those up lol
I figured nothing 'ground-breaking' would be revealed with this thread, but I think it's an interesting topic.
If anyone has pics, that show a good comparison, like Mr. Popular did, go ahead and put them up. I think that is good reference, so people can see when something is actually 'lagging', as opposed to just not being big enough in general. Visually, it's also a lot easier to appreciate the hard work a lot of ya'll put in, and gets the point across that ya'll aren't just big because of "genetics and creatine" or some shit.
Generally speaking, I'd first optimize exercise selection and execution (not every muscle group responds the same to a certain rep style). Then, and only then, would I go about employing a higher training frequency approach for the lagging muscle group(s).
Presonally, this is how I handled improving shitty lats (bad grasp of rowing variations: my traps and biceps did the brunt of the work; conversely, I have good bicipites and a yoke, but a ridiculous lat) and tris (didn't train them in the past).
I improved my lats by - improving mind-muscle connection (no brainer) - employing appropriate exercise selection and technique - upping lat training frequency - focusing on using a rep 'style' most fitting for this muscle (fast concentric, 'high-quality' isometric, eccentric as fast as safely possible, 'snappy' return to next rep)
In the end, I - trained my lats 4 times a week - left my ego at the door, load-wise - and although I could only use horizontal pulls, I made tremendous progress as opposed to all those years where I additionally had access to vertical pulls
My triceps was kinda easy: I just started to train it, albeit with a pretty high frequency (4-5 times a week).
I'm a firm believer in high training frequency and short training volume, though.
I found squatting first in my routine when I was focusing on gaining overall size (with a leg emphasis) and using full body workouts with 3 compounds (squat/incline bench/ chin) made a difference. As I'm a lanky fucker I also found belt squatting was great because it allowed me to work the legs hard without having stop when my back gave out, which was invariably before my legs gave out.
2 exercises I've never rated, never used regularly or consistently with any great benefit, and do not miss (not that I'm at an 'impressive' level of development but I've progressed fine so far without them entrenched in my exercise tool box: flat barbell bench, and I don't do the flat dumbbell press really either I much prefer incline; barbell back squat, I'm not built for it and have found far more beneficial alternatives-for ME. I do not shirk squatting, I'm just not really built for it.
I also underestimated how much I needed to eat and was a 'fat-phoebe' for a long, long time. It doesn't matter how much you train, how hard or how great your routine is or how many steroids you're on, no caloric surplus-no gains...
Improved my Lats by: -Pre-exhausting them -Consciously maintaining stress on them during back movements and eliminating arm-dominant portions of ROMs -Performing specific exercises in a way that would allow for the greatest stretch before each rep
Improved my Pecs by: -Increasing frequency -Realizing that I could handle greater volume if my nutrition was sound (forget that 'overtraining' BS) -Focus on always moving the weight with my pecs and not my naturally dominant delts and tris -Caring even less about how much weight I was actually lifting
You asked for a specific exemplary training plan, but I'd like to give you a more 'abstract' run-down of what constitutes my two approaches to this.
Depends on the training programming involved. Fatigue management is the key (for me).
1) When I was using a simple volume/split approach, I - lowered overall volume on my 'good' muscle groups - chose a few 'money exercises' for the lagging muscle group and rotated through them 4-5 days a week, never doing more than two of them on any given training day - I didn't pull that 4-5 times / week out of my ass, obviously: I started out with 2x and upped it from there
2) Employing a high frequency training style things were a lot more fun, though: - TBT or 2 day split - I prefer (better: can get away with high-frequency) TBT, because my legs don't need much training: that way, a missed session doesn't have much of a negative impact in the overall scheme of things - one 'money exercise' for each good muscle group - two exercises for the lagging body part, pretty much hitting them 4-5 days a week
1) was my first approach to it, back when I was still starting out and had about 3 training years under my belt. While it might look good on paper, it sucked. After some time, I had to sacrifice either progress with my good muscles or for my lagging muscle groups. I also tried to just train my good muscles for maintenance purposes - didn't really change much.
Approach 2) is not only funnier, but yields more results for me. I feel fresher, have more overall progress and, in the end, end up with a more balanced physique. Ups: a) no-brainer approach b) applicable to both a fat-loss diet and a bulk
Downs: a) it's harder on the joints b) you really have to make the exercises count: intensity is only part of the equation; if you can't hit a certain muscle group (i.e. exercise) well enough, intensity alone's not gonna do it
Apparently, I don't subscribe to the 'you need to hit a muscle from all possible angles using a plethora of exercies' school of thought. Maybe due to lack of equipment (homegym luva for about 9 years). Of course, this, in itself, may be no small reason I acquired a few imbalances But in the end, this (and a few serious injuries/mishaps) have forced me to re-learn a lot of stuff in the past years.
Anyway, this is my personal experience and I don't claim any universal applicability.
In addition to what Stu has written about lat recruitment, I'd like two share these tidbits: - narrow grip (that's why I prefer rope attachments or t-bar) - pronated is shit, neutral is better, supinated is best - h pulls go to navel area, v pulls to sternum
pull with your elbows: the only way I could learn it was to seriously lower the load: I'm not a small guy and I had no problem to use 250 - 280 lbs for reps using seated cable rows; but I didn't start to learn to seriously let my lats do the brunt of the work until I lowered the load to about 150 lbs. This coming from a guy who excelled at weighted chins and pull-ups. Once I got the hang of it, I had no trouble getting back to where I used to be, load-wise.
funnily, pre-fatigueing didn't do too much for me compared to the aforementioned steps
@FattyFat - thanks for the super detailed response, i like the idea of both approaches, and aggree with the lat recruitment at least for myself the pulling with the elbows was the ultimate key in growing lats