If you are anything like recreational bodybuilders, you have a favorite body part you like to work out more frequently with more sets and more intensity just to show that body part off more than other muscle groups which along with your favorite exercises get trained the most frequent. You also most likely have a favorite top or pair of shorts that shows off your best body part just right.
There is also that body part that never seems to get any bigger that seems almost impossible to get results from and you usually cover it up and as part of showmanship you favor training your best body part to show off your achievements. Arnold Schwarzenegger never let weaknesses get in the way of a good workout routine that helped him turn any humiliating weaknesses into strengths.
Arnie will readily admit that in his earlier bodybuilding career his thighs and especially calves where a weak point, if he ever wanted to seriously win a bodybuilding contest in America he would have to up his game on his trailing lower half.
What Arnie did is now the stuff of legends, all his training pant bottoms were cut off so he himself and everyone else in the gym could see his legs, is weakness. His commitment to bring up his calves was there for everyone to see.
He admitted to Muscle & Fitness magazine: ‘If I exposed my better body parts such as my arms, chest or deltoids all my peers would give me wonderful comments and I could forget about my embarrassing legs’. ‘Soon I adopted cutaway pant legs to hurt my ego and it worked. I would begin every workout with legs and sometimes end it with a few sets too’.
Arnold still sees today more than 30 years on many bodybuilders who will train to improve their strong points at the expense of their weaker areas. If you are competing especially this is a sure-fire way to leave the party early. A new plan of action is needed to avoid these problems, these are four areas he focused on.
Arnold’s Weak Point Attack Plan
You need to begin by identifying the weaker body part and then make a commitment with yourself to improve it, not everybody is competing and most recreational bodybuilders are happy to continue on with a strong chest and arms skipping out leg day. There again these same guys will rarely be seen wearing a pair of shorts in the summer. Arnold suggests addressing the following four areas:
1) Prioritize A Lagging Body Part
By prioritizing a lagging body part Arnie found that he could devote more time and energy to it. ‘Work your weak areas first in a training session, when you are most fresh and capable of generating the best intensity’, a muscle group can also be prioritized by doing it first after a rest day.
2) Employ Advanced Training Principles
Increase the number of exercises and sets you do for any lagging body part. High-volume training has been linked to hypertrophy so long as you don’t do it for too long or do too much. Say you have a particular area that needs attention such as your upper chest , it is all too easy to add in a secondary incline movement for it rather than just the one.
For instance you could start with an incline barbell press for 3 sets of 8-10 reps and then perform dumbbell incline presses with an adjustable bench set to a more shallow incline for 3 sets of 10 – 12 reps.
3) Employ Advanced Training Principles
In Arnold’s book he discusses using advanced training techniques as a great weapon to bring up lagging body parts. Arnie has more or less used every intensity booster in the book but discovered the best methods through trial and error. Having said that don’t be afraid to apply techniques such as forced reps, negatives, dropsets, partials, rest-pause or other ideas you may have come across.
Be sure to evaluate yourself after using each method and don’t take every set to muscle failure, save it for your 1-2 heaviest sets on each exercise.
4) Explore Different Ways Of Performing The Movements
Calves weren’t Arnold’s only shortcomings being long-legged early on in his career, his thighs were also pretty small. This meant throwing out the usual rulebook on leg day.
‘Building up my legs was hard for me as I have long legs muscles and long legs’ Arnie wrote, the long-legged bodybuilder had to explore a wider variety of exercises in his lower body routine. This means trying other exercises until you find one which works best for your legs. You also have to keep varying your routine so your muscles are surprised by the demand placed on them.
In an effort to bring up a lagging body part you may resort to throwing everything at your muscles to make them work a bit harder but this can be counterproductive states Arnold.
‘There will be times when a body part lags behind simply because you are overtraining it, hitting it so hard, often and with such intensity that it never really has time to rest, recuperate or grow.’ The simple answer here is to give your muscles time to relax and rest and then adjust your training schedule so as not to overwork them again.
Too much can be just as bad as too little when it comes to bodybuilding training.
Cutting back a bit on volume, intensity or frequency will address overtraining issues, Arnold has argued on many occasions that you want to train intensely but for short periods of time. It can be difficult to maintain high intensity for long periods of time so it is best to keep workouts short but intense.
Perfect symmetry development is nearly impossible because you will always find one lagging body part to improve upon. If you are unsure about your physique simply ask your friends at the gym, they will be all too happy to let you know what your weaknesses are.
Arnold Schwarzenegger certainly has worked out the best routines to get on top of weak areas and make them strong.