4 Ignored Muscles You Should Train For a Symmetrical Physique
There's nothing to fear though, most bodybuilders start that way, and only after they've gained significant muscle mass (and muscular imbalances) do they focus on bringing their weak points up to speed.
Why Most Physiques Aren't SymmetricalThe reasons why most guys and gals have disproportionate muscle mass across their bodies are quite simple. It comes down to genetics and training.
Related - Building the X Frame Physique
Your genetic makeup determines whether your biceps, your quads, or perhaps both, will grow like a weed, while your chest or traps will never be as impressive. There's also the training aspect, the only thing that we can actually influence.
Most beginners lose their symmetry when they start training is because they focus on the muscle groups that are most important to them, and which are easy to train. Those are almost always biceps and chest.
Personally, the only muscle group I trained for the first few months in the gym was biceps with an occasional set of crunches at the end of the workout. Please don't laugh, I was 14 and not the brightest bulb in the box.
How To Correct Symmetry ProblemsThe only way to balance your muscles out is to focus extra hard on your weak points, training them more often and with higher intensity and volume. That's really all there is to it.
But in this article, my primary goal is to shed light on 4 muscles that a huge number of people tend to have underdeveloped. They are visually impactful, so if you have them undersized, make sure to train them without mercy.
1. Upper-ChestThe reason why the upper-chest is underdeveloped in most people is due to the fact that they do a lot of regular bench presses, instead of doing inclines as well. The truth is that most of the chest muscle is taken up by the lower chest.
Although the weight you lift on the regular bench press should be equally distributed and build your pecs as a single unit, most of the movement will effect only the lower chest. After some time you get the sagging, overgrown lower chest and a barren field above it. That space needs to be filled up with new muscle fiber, but it's certainly not an easy task.
What you really need to do is either dedicate one or two extra chest sessions a week and hit that upper chest hard. Or you can replace your regular bench press with incline bench press.
Try hitting the upper chest with various exercises, including isolation exercises such as cable flys and plate squeezes. Another great technique is to use dumbbells on your incline bench press instead of the barbell. Dumbbells provide you with a bigger range of motion and also allow you to squeeze the chest better at the contraction point.
Whichever method you try, make sure to stick to it for a few weeks, and you're bound to see some improvements.
2. TrapsThe traps are very similar to abs in a sense that some people don't train them at all. It's that overused tactic of doing a lot of compound movements and expecting all the muscle to respond equally well. But traps are a muscle that is often largely determined by genetics.
Many guys should dedicate some extra effort to building their traps through isolation movements. Being one of those guys myself, the exercises which I can wholeheartedly recommend are shrugs.
Seriously, do your shrugs, and do different variations with them. Perform them standing straight, with dumbbells/a barbell/plates. Then do a set of shrugs with the tool of your choice by leaning a bit to the front. After that do a few sets laying on your stomach on an incline bench.
All you really need to do in order to build powerful traps is a lot of shrugs, and to go heavy with your deadlifts. So if one is not working out for you, try both and see what happens.
3. Middle & Rear DeltsDelts are another critical area that is often disproportionately developed. When you do bench presses, bicep curls and various other movements in which the resistance is placed in front of you, your front delts are doing a lot of work, whereas your middle and rear delts are sipping on a cocktail in Malibu.
Those parts of your shoulder need extra attention, otherwise, you will have a bad posture with your shoulders rolling to the front, and giving you the slouching old man physique. So to prevent that, dedicate a few sets each week to these neglected parts of the muscle.
The top exercise for middle delts is dumbbell side raises. The key to performing these correctly is to really focus on contracting the muscle without using too much weight. Form is the key, and training with a higher rep range can also be beneficial.
The best rare delt exercises are face pulls (with rope), and bent-over dumbbell lateral raises. Generally speaking, a lot of rowing movements also work your rare delts, including barbell rows and doing cardio on the rowing machine. All of these can be helpful in building up your rare delts to match the front side of the muscle.
4. QuadricepsThis one is a bit tricky, since it depends on whether you do any sports or not. Soccer players usually have over-developed quads for example, so if you fall into that category you can ignore this post.
But I'll take a guess that you're just a random guy/girl training in the gym. Most of the leg exercises you perform, including squats, deadlifts and lunges train the quads, hamstrings, and glutes. But the back side of the leg takes most of the load from the front.
That's really the case due to the nature of the movements, which elicit more power from those combined muscle groups in the back. So it's very easy to get disproportionately larger hamstrings than quads. If that is the case with you, adding some leg presses and leg extensions can be very helpful.
Another thing you can do is use different variations of squats, including the front squat, sissy squat and pistol squats. All of these variations activate the quads more than the standard barbell squat.
ConclusionAll of us, including the best pro bodybuilders, have some problems with symmetry. You can pick apart any person and find a few flaws with their physique. The problem is not really the minor details, but it can prove very beneficial both for aesthetics and performance to correct some major symmetry issues.
The four muscles groups we discussed are a very common issue due to the nature of training in the gym and common genetic traits. Hopefully, this article will point you in the right direction and help you create an even better physique in the upcoming weeks to come.