T Nation

Question About Dominant Muscles

I know we’ve all heard the explanation for how muscles are recruited as akin to a large weight crushing us and our bodies having to move it, in whatever way it can. However, one thing I never realized was you can change your dominant muscle groups. At least, I think you can.

First, I have always been a tricep dominant individual on pressing movements. This was due in part to being a wrestler, and I always sported very large triceps, but a very underdeveloped chest. Three summers ago, I decided to try and follow a chest routine for 8 weeks found in a popular lifting magazine. It basically involved following a specific chest day twice a week and annihilating your chest on each of those days. After the entire summer, my chest did not look much different, but maybe was a little bigger.

However, now, my chest is stronger and better than ever. The reason? After working on it for so long, I developed a much better mind-muscle connection and was able to contract it much better in exercises. After this, I didn’t lose my triceps domination overnight, but kept doing chest exercises like flys and pec deck, and now my chest is actually the dominant group in all pressing exercises, even being used (unfortunately) in some exercises made for the triceps, such as close-grip benching.

Secondly, and this is what caused me to think about all of this, I went through a lot of transformations both physically and mentally since I first picked up a weight about 7 years ago. Back in high school, I was very ignorant and believed all the myths surrounding lifting. One day we were tested on our maxes for gym class, and I noticed my leg extension was much greater than my leg curl. I know these are stupid exercises for a max, but it was what was done. In any case, I decided to make those two muscle groups equal for some reason. I never did, but kept that moment in mind up until recently. I began a new exercise program this past summer, and to bring up my hamstrings, which I still wanted to make as strong as my quads, I put deads before squats, and leg curls before leg extensions, also purposely always using more weight for leg curls than leg extensions. Unfortunately, I believe I may have far overshot my goal. Since my squat has not improved at all for a month and a half, I decided to reverse the order and do squats first. I still could not do more weight, but most interestingly is that my hamstrings were cramping severly.

When I tried to do deads afterwards, my legs shook too badly and I had to stop. I know my form is off now on squats even though I’ve had no problem up until recently, but doing bodyweight exercises provides the same results, since I can easily do 3 sets of 10 one legged stiff leg deadlifts, but cannot even do one full modified one leg squat.

Is this the case I actually made a poorer muscle group for the squat dominant, just by my specialization? If so, isn’t that at least a little exciting for people with lagging bodyparts? Am I just way off base? Please, share your opinions.

I have observed similar experiences in myself. Used to be heavily anterior delt and tricep dominant on all presses. My natural grip used for the first 3 years of training was naturally (it felt natural then) at right where the knurling starts on the olympic bar.

Very narrow. I widened it out as I grew (I was pretty fuckin small at first, both muscular size and bone structure) and now my chest is equally activated with delts and tris. And yes, I also started to feel my chest more with time, further contributing to its growth rate in catching up with my delts and tris.

So yeah, I do agree that the preferential recruitment may come with both superior strength and neuromuscular connection to a given muscle. As far as your squat goes, I don’t think you screwed yourself. Strive for balance and you will be fine.

Also, comparing bodyweight one legged squats to one legged deadlifts is not reasonable. When you bend over to pick up a golf ball or whatever, its similar to a one legged deadlift. I don’t know of anytime that people bust out with a one legged squat.

Thats just an awkward fuckin movement that is going to be harder because it is only done in the weightroom. As far as shit being applicable to those with bodypart weaknesses, not so much. It really depends on the cause of the weakness.

Some people have a bodypart that they train incorrectly so it never reaches its potential. For these people, it could help. For those that just have a bodypart that is genetically not as blessed and lack the neuromuscular recruitment, number of muscle fibers, short insertions, etc. this won’t really help them.

Your hamstrings shot up in strength, indicating they needed prioritization and that they weren’t receiving adequate training attention. If you had given them the attention and they didn’t respond, it would be more indicitive of a genetic predispotition towards weak hamstrings.