Achieve Your Ideal Physique - Focus on the Details
The gym where I train is always bustling at 5 p.m. Every piece of equipment is occupied, and most people are doing the exercises exactly how they're illustrated on the side of the machines. I watch a high school kid walk over to the lat pull down. He pulls the pin from the top of the stack and places it near the bottom. With a wide grip, he wedges himself under the knee-pads. In an explosive move, he leans back and engages his shoulders to pull the weight. Momentum brings his body forward on the eccentric portion of the rep. After 4 quick reps, he stands up. I notice that his shoulders are well developed while his lats are lacking.
When building your ideal physique, it's normal to have muscle groups that are prominent and some that are "lagging”. The question is how do you overcome imbalances and strengthen weaker muscle groups? The answer is in the details. In a previous blog, I talked about the importance of mind-muscle connection. In order to sculpt a physique, we must be aware of what muscle groups are working at all times. I think it also comes down to checking your ego at the door. There's a saying that, “the muscle doesn't know how much weight it's lifting”. I have much better results shaping my physique by using lighter weight and focusing on the muscle I'd like to shape rather than trying to lift as much weight as I can. Here are a few things to be aware of when lifting for aesthetics:
- Utilize different grips. For example, for lat pull downs, an underhand grip usually recruits more biceps, while a neutral or overhand grip helps recruit more lats.
- Slightly changing the angle of the lift can dramatically change what muscles are working. For example, keeping your hands around your ears through a rear delt cable crossover will emphasize the rear delts. Dropping your hands toward the middle of the rep will cause the lats to take over.
- The last few reps are the most important; as fatigue sets in, the stronger muscle groups will take over for the "lagging" muscle groups.
- Limit the use of momentum - focus on lifting the weight with just the muscle you're targeting. Don't bounce!
- Be mindful, always. The sculptor doesn't take haphazard swipes at his work of art - he is deliberate and keeps the finished piece in mind throughout the process. Your body is your art!
Through my training sessions I have found I love PEAK ATP to help me achieve those last few reps, and improve my recovery!
Thank you for reading! Until next time, train hard!
-Erin Stern, IFBB Figure Pro/USATF Competitor