Targeted Muscle Building

I always like to see how other people train and their intentions for doing so.  Most people follow the same typical spilt and the only real reason is because everyone else is doing it.  But some people train for a purpose, such as get really strong, build tons of size, or specialize in building certain muscle groups.  They then build there routine around that single purpose.

Specializing in certain muscle groups seems like a very interesting method because you can control the way you look.  Lets say you want to gain 20 lbs of muscle and a big muscled veteran says go to the gym and do deep squats.  One year later you gained 20 lbs of muscle, but its all in your legs.  Is that going to make your physique aesthetically pleasing? – Not really, and the reason is because you built muscle out of proportion and now your legs look twice as big as your upper body.

After reading a few really good articles, there are certain exercises that can actually make your “look” like you gained 20 lbs of muscle even if you only gained 5 lbs of muscle.  Pretty awesome concept. The goal is build the muscle that increases the width and size of your upper body.  In other words, the muscles that people can see, even when your wearing clothes.

So how do you make 5 lbs look like 20 lbs in the mirror? – Build up your shoulders, upper-back and back width.  Most people go to the gym and train chest and arms, which do look good, but training the exact opposite actually makes you look twice as good.  The reason for this is because it opens up your posture by pulling your shoulders back and creates width making your entire upperbody look bigger, especially in proportion to your legs.

This bodybuilder is a good example.  Legs are built, but not huge and his upper body looks bigger in proportion to the rest of his body.
This bodybuilder is a good example. Legs are built, but not huge and his upper body looks bigger in proportion to the rest of his body.

Here is list of exercises that you should focus on to build muscle in the desired areas to greatly enhance your aesthetics.

Middle Delt (shoulder) – these create width the most and make your upperbody look real nice.  Lateral Raises (really hits the middle head of the shoulder) with high reps, DB Shoulder Press (overall size of shoulders) hits all three heads and Arnold Press (all three heads). 

Rear Delt – (posterior shoulders) – these are HEAVILY recruited with back exercises, but to target them directly do rear delt raises with a machine or DB’s and Seated Cable High Pulls.

Traps (upper-back) – Many athletes have this look and can really make a difference if you build them up properly.  The best exercises are Shrugs, Cleans (olympic lift dont have to do these), Seated Cable High Pulls, and Cable Lateral Raises.  An important note for Traps is everytime your hands go ABOVE YOUR SHOULDERS the Traps come into play.

Back (lats) – Back is a MASSIVE muscle group and there are countless exercises to hit it.  But the ones that really work on width are Weighted Pull-ups.  Weighted Pull-ups also HEAVILY recruit the biceps, which are always nice to grow.  If you cant do Weighted Pull-ups or Bodyweight pull-ups, then go heavy on Lat Pulldowns.  The deal with back is usually whenever A WIDE GRIP is taken and the exercise is VERTICAL the lats are heavily involved.

Upper Chest – this is underrated, but building an impressive upper chest looks much better than a large overall chest and ESPECIALLY more than overdeveloped lower chest.  Build up the Upper Chest enough and it bascially looks like your wearing armor.  The best way to do this is DB incline press.

ABS – Everyone’s favorite muscle group, but I wouldn’t worry about abs too much.  I used to obsess about Abs to the exclusion of all other muscle groups.  But Id much rather have a huge upper-body with no abs, then a small upper-body with abs.  Abs are also heavily recruited when doing pull-ups.  My favorite Ab exercise is do lean over with hands on your knees and suck in has hard you can for 2 second and repeat 50 times.  This makes the TVA (transverse abdominis) very strong and FLAT.  Abs are also a byproduct of low body fat, but trying to have abs visible all the time can seriously limit your muscle growth.

The best way to prioritize certain muscles is to hit them more often then other muscle groups.  So your routine make look this:

  • Back/Shoulders/Traps
  • Chest/Tris
  • Legs/Bis
  • Off/Abs
  • Back
  • Shoulders/Traps

Basically hit the muscle groups you want to focus on the most twice a week and only the other muscles groups once a week.

Bottom Line:  Focusing on certain muscle groups can make your entire body look bigger by fixing your posture and increasing your width.




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