Lagging body parts may look unaesthetic and disproportionate to physique bodybuilders, or beginners who expect amazing results in a short amount of time all over their bodies. There are different techniques for different lagging parts, but the truth is that one size doesn’t fit all. And most people lag in different parts, so there is no one way to bring them up. It is of utmost importance to tailor your sessions to your own body’s needs and not mimic what others are doing for their own bodies.
Before we go into various solutions you can use, make sure you understand this basic principle: genetics. Yes, some people can bring up lagging body parts, but others will never be able to do so because of a different genetic makeup. This genetic makeup affects how our muscles react to training and how our muscles look and work in correlation (and comparison) to our other muscles. It also defines our muscle structure and determines their insertion.
Another very simple principle is that of perception. Because of bone structure, some of our body parts may look smaller, or bigger (bigger sounds good to most weight lifters, but not to ladies!). For example, waists, hips, wrists cannot be ‘enlarged’ if you have a narrower width structure. So when we look at someone who is of a narrower bone structure with a different muscle insertion the look shredded and their major muscle groups look bigger in comparison to other muscles. That doesn’t mean that their apparent ‘smaller muscles’ are not trained, it just means that within their frame, because of the muscle insertions, they are overwhelmed by how bigger muscles look like and stick out visually.
1. Frequency & Infrequency
Targeted high-frequency training is the best way to go about a lagging body part. Train your lagging body part 2 to 3 times a week and switch up reps and sets. For example, go light and fast for one workout, and the following go heavy and slow. Alternate between limited range of motion and full range of motion. Apply the same principle as you do when you break through plateaus: switching gears.
A word of caution with this is that, while you do target a lagging body part, your body needs to help it recover, as muscles grow and repair during rest days. So make sure that you eat a proper diet so that your entire body can help the target grow and strengthen.
You must alternate between speed, weight, sets and reps. It sounds like a lot to do, but at first, you may just want to increase training for to lagging muscle. Then you can move on to switching between the weights you use. Incorporate speed factors when you do that: do it slow and tense when heavy, and fast with momentum when light. Gradually change sets and reps from say 6-8 to 8-12.
2. Experimental Exercise
Switching your frequency is not the same as switching your session. Try to find a new exercise to re-adjust your body and give it a kick in the direction you want it to go. Experiment with exercises and movements you didn’t do enough before.
For example, if you are doing only single-joint movements exercises and you are trying to grow your rear delts, try a multi-joint isolation exercise, such as the face pull which targets rear delts and mid traps.
How to perform a Cable Face Pull:
- You need a Cable Machine and a rope. You need to adjust the pulley to your chest’s height or slightly lower, but not any higher than chest height.
- Hold the rope with an overhand grip and stand back.
- Drop your shoulders, feet shoulder-width apart, and pull the rope to your face.
- As you pull, make sure your elbows are higher than your wrists at all times.
- Once you’ve pulled the rope to your face, make sure you get your shoulder blades to pinch.
- Really squeeze your shoulder blades and keep your elbows high, keep the load on your rear delts.
- Push back forward.
If you need some visual aid as well, ScottHermanFitness is doing it the right way!
3. More Carbs
Getting extra carbs in your diet pre-workout can do wonders for your lagging body parts. This trick will help you store glycogen for your workout and it is an efficient way to take advantage of the anti-catabolic and anabolic effects of insulin.
Depending on the body part that you are trying to bring up, the timing of this pre-workout carb meal is key. For example, if you want to train your back eat loads of carbs within your 2 meals before training. Within the next 30 minutes after your training, have another carb loaded meal to help you refill glycogen stores and boost recovery.
If you have been on a low carb diet and you want to train a weaker body part, like your legs, eat plenty of carbs the night before your workout. This will give your body the time needed to store glycogen. It is also an incredibly effective method for anyone who trains in the morning.
These techniques may work in helping you bring up your lagging body parts. However, consider the possibility of body fat being another factor which makes you feel that you look disproportionate in certain areas. And if you can check to see if that is the case, then simply dropping body fat will bring forth the definition of your muscles.
If you are someone with naturally larger wrists or knees, for example, you can simply work on growing the smaller muscles in between your joints and major muscle groups – as said above, through targeted isolation training.
All in all, just make sure that you’re not simply physically ‘lacking’, but that you are not lacking in strength. Test yourself constantly in how much you can lift and for how many times and keep a journal of it. This will bring about the weaknesses you may have and focus on working in building their strength rather than their size. And remember that “different body types might have leverages that are advantageous for some lifts and disadvantageous to other lifts” - (Christian Thibaudeau).
As always, practice makes perfect and you should simply embrace your body type and your differences. Wouldn’t it be just boring if everyone looked the same? Learn to measure your strength rather than your looks and focus on that. It will empower you both mentally and physically and it will inspire those who are beginners on this path and will look up to you for advice.