By Ron Harris
If you consider yourself a bodybuilder, then your goal must be to ultimately build a complete, balanced physique. All muscle groups should be developed in proportion to each other, with nothing overpowering the rest of the physique, and certainly no glaring weak points. Yet we see incomplete physiques everywhere. Guys will have massive upper bodies on top of stick legs. Or they might look like Hercules from the front, but from behind, you wonder if they’ve ever trained their back even once. Legs that look amazing from the front, with meaty quads, suddenly seem defective when turned to the side and the hamstrings are nonexistent. Sure, you could chalk it up to genetics. We all have muscle groups that respond very well, and others that are stubborn to growth. Only a very gifted few have superior genetics in all the muscle groups. Still, there are steps you can take to fill in the gaps and bring up your weak points so that eventually they’re no longer weak.
BACK OFF ON YOUR STRONG POINTS
Here is the most important thing you need to know about your strong points: they’re not going anywhere. If something like your arms or shoulders grew very quickly from day one of training and are what people always seem to notice about your physique, it’s safe to say you could train that area less often and less frequently and it would probably stay the same size. Why would you do that, or more importantly, why should you? It’s because we all only have a finite amount of training time and energy. It makes no sense to spend more on something than is needed. And that will allow you to. . .
FOCUS ON YOUR WEAK POINTS
Here’s an example of what I did many years ago when I realized I had the aforementioned issue of impressive quads with hams that truly sucked in comparison. For about five years or so, I trained my hamstrings first on leg day. I did my lying leg curls, seated leg curls, and Romanian deadlifts before I ever did one rep for quads. That worked very well. Finally, my hamstrings were being trained with the energy and focus they needed, rather than having to wait until I’d already fatigued myself with quadriceps work. The other option some people choose in the same situation is to have separate workouts for quads and hams. I decided against that because I knew my quads would simply continue to grow out of proportion to my hams. In other words. I chose to do what I mentioned above – back off on a strong point. You can also do things like add in a few extra sets for a lagging bodypart on other training days, or specialize on it by hitting it more often.
KEEP AN EYE ON YOUR PHYSIQUE AND SOLICIT CRITIQUE
As you build your physique over the months and years, it’s important to watch how it’s developing. Are some areas overtaking others? Is anything really weak and taking away from your overall balance and proportions? If so, try to nip it in the bud with the previously stated strategies before the imbalance or imbalances become any more pronounced. And if you can’t objectively assess your own physique this way, seek out the honest appraisal and evaluation of someone who can, like an NPC or IFBB Pro League judge, or at the very least, a seasoned competitor or prep coach. The longer you are unaware of an imbalance, the greater it will become. But if you catch it earlier, you have an excellent chance of rectifying the situation with a few simple adjustments to your training.