One day, a gym rat asked me this very question. When we talk about symmetry in bodybuilding we refer to the way that the body parts fit together--how balanced the physique appears. To get an idea of what a symmetrical bodybuilder looks like, I suggest that ya check out some of the photo galleries on the web site and look for people like Arnold, Flex Wheeler, Chris Cormier, Steve Reeves and Shawn Ray and Lee Labrada.
From head to toe it is hard to find a weak point on their body. Wouldn't you like to have this? You can in fact help minimize your weak point by copious attention to your training habits. Read on.
OK, lets face it, Thomas Jefferson was a little out of it. Right, now what does political science have to do with bodybuilding?
"We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal."
This is a famous phrase from the Declaration of Independence but, there is almost no equality in our physiques. Face it, if you could, you would alter your DNA to obtain the ideal structure.
There are various structures out there. Some guys like Nasser El Sonbaty, Markus Ruhl and many powerlifters are somewhat endo mesomorphic meaning that they tend to have large skeletal structures with a propensity to hold lots of muscle and be a little chubby too. Others are somewhat ectomorphic--skinny guys who look like tooth picks with hardly any fat and little muscle too.
Mesomorphs with ectomorphic shadings have the best of both worlds. A guy like Flex Wheeler has light bones, a wide shoulder girdle, narrow waist and hips as well and full muscle bellies. How can you train to look sumpin' like this?
Wide Shoulders look good no matter what. They are a sign of power and beauty and have been that way ever since the Greco-Roman era (there's that history again). Shoulder development, especially by way of the lateral or side deltoid, can make you look broad and wide no matter how narrow your collar bones are. Although it is mostly genetics, you can target these muscle when you work out. The side lateral raise should become you main shoulder movement.
- Focus on getting in 5-7 sets of Side Lateral Raises in every shoulder workout. Since these isolate only a small part of the shoulders, follow the laterals with a couple sets of overhead presses with a barbell, dumbbells or a machine using heavy weights and low reps for 3 sets. Throw in a trap movement and you are set.
Wide Back musculature will also contribute significantly to the V-Taper of your body. In order to widen your lats, place emphasis on Wide Grip Chins (or if you don't have the strength to do chins do pull downs). Chins and Pull downs not only develop the lats; they also stretch the scapulae ( the bone structure of your shoulders).
PUT IN A GOOD 3-4 SETS OF WIDE GRIP CHINS AND BEFORE LONG PEOPLE WILL ASK YOU IF THEY CAN USE YOUR BACK AS AN AIRPLANE.
Your midsection also has a profound effect on your symmetry. Not all of us are blessed with narrow hips and a small waist, but since you are gonna prioritize your V-Taper, you will have a head start. In addition don't do too much ab training with heavy resistance as this could cause your muscles to grow at a rate faster than the back and delts. Keeping your body fat low goes a long way with this too so go easy on the junk in the off season!
BIG WHEELS KEEP ON TURNING-
From plain old tires to 20 inch Lorenzo's
Carrot shaped leg development can really throw off your body's balance. Legs are hard to train but good thigh sweep will help offset your waist. In order to target the sweep of your quads, focus on getting in 3-4 sets of 6-15 reps heavy Leg Presses, Squats or Hack Squats each workout and make sure you keep your form strict. Also do leg extensions and focus on contracting hard each rep ! Also, put everything into your Hamstring workouts since they make up almost half of the leg-- Do 1-2 variations of Leg Curls and either Good Mornings or Stiff Legged Deadlifts 3 x 8-15 reps to get a stretch and you will go from Hamster to huge honey baked hams in no time!
We place a lot of importance on Flat Bench Presses but this is another thing which messes up your symmetry. After all that flat benching you get droopy lower pecs that sag. Ya need to start doing inclines ! Incline Presses should become your main basic chest movement since the upper pecs will give your chest that round, completely developed look. You can vary the angle from a 45 degree (which nails the upper pecs from the neck bone to about 2 inches down) or a angle that is not as steep to focus on the upper region right above the middle of your pecs or combine both. You can use a Barbell, Dumbbells, a smith Machine and may other variations. Incline Barbell Presses 3-4 sets of 4-10 reps pyramiding the weight. and then follow these with some Incline Dumbell Presses for 3 sets to finish up the pecs.
All to often there are people who work out with out giving a crap about the aforementioned three. Nothing looks worse than a bad set of calves cuz they ruin the symmetry of your lower body. What ta do ? Hit your calves twice a week using good form and high reps with heavy weights. 3-4 sets of 10-30 reps on Standing Calf Raises, Seated Calf Raises, 1 legged Calf Raises with a dumbell, or calf Raises on an bench 1 or 2 times a week, Many people put time into the biceps and triceps but all in vain cuz the forearms are behind. Weak forearms will hamper your back training a lot. Do heavy grip holds- load a barbell with about 1.25 times what you would use for a deadlift or a shrug and hold it as long as you can and your forearms will be up in no time.
Rear delts are to overlooked as well and will make all your efforts in shoulder and back development less fruitful. Train the rear delts with either back or delts and do 3-4 sets 8-10 reps of Bent Over Dumbbell Laterals and Prone Laterals on an incline Bench.