When it comes to training, some muscles fatigue easier than others. It can be from a number of different things. The burn factor for example: calves just hurt like heck to train- actually, any of your leg muscles burn like crazy, so a lot of people neglect them. Visibility is another common factor, just look at the broad picture: the biceps are generally favored over the triceps, the chest over the back, the quads over the hamstrings, the abs over the lower back, and the front delts over the rear. A lot of bodybuilders are more motivated to train the muscles they can directly see in the mirror. Things like this often cause people to have a lagging body part, but one of the most common reasons for any body part not developing is due to a poor choice of exercises.
If you base your routine off of exercises you see the big guys doing, you won't necessarily grow. The big guy you see might be doing some kind of weak point training, therefore copying him would only work a certain area, diminishing your overall progress. Some exercises are geared toward mass and others toward definition, so you must plan your workouts according to your personal goal. So what I'll do is go through each muscle group and name off the fundamental exercises for mass, and also for definition.
The chest is one of those areas that is generally favored above most other muscle groups. I'm assuming because the chest is one of the most easily noticed areas when developed. Also because, when trained, they don't burn half as much as most body parts, which is mainly due to the fact that basically every exercise for it is some form of a compound movement (more than one muscle group involved), so the stress is somewhat divided.
However, because the pectorals are always assisted by the front delts and triceps, the majority of the exercises for them are mass builders, which is, in my opinion, a positive trade-off. So if your goal is to put on mass, then the pecs will be on of your favorite body parts because if you train them right they'll rise like bread.
- heavy barbell bench presses
- heavy dumbbell bench presses
- heavy incline dumbbell presses
- flat bench dumbbell flys = outer chest, with an emphasis in the middle and lower areas
- incline dumbbell flys = outer chest, with an emphasis on the upper area
- cable crossovers = inner chest, and you can change the angle to target the upper, lower, and mid
Upper and Lower Back
The upper back is a lot like the chest, it's one of the torso muscles that receives help from other muscles (biceps, traps, and rear delts), but the main difference is that it doesn't have it so easy for power training. When maxing out on the bench press, all you have do is lay back and push. However, in order to train your upper back with bent-over rows, t-bar rows, or a number of other key power exercises for the lats, you need your lower back to act as a stabilizer to keep your torso from falling over and your spine from arching
Now the lower back is a strong area when it comes to stabilizing, at least is has the potential to be...The sad reality is, the lower back is probably the most neglected muscle group out there, so more often that not the upper back suffers from this. The quads can also suffer heavily from a weak lower back because in order to perform heavy squats you need a great deal of assistance from it. The easy way out of this is the use of machines which allow you to sit up and mimic the rowing motion, or relying on leg presses rather than squats, both of which do not require any involvement of the lower back- DON'T DO THIS. I'm not saying don't ever use machines, but bent-over rows and squats are critical and must be done, so do yourself a huge favor and start doing some deadlifts and good mornings so you are not limited to light rows and squats. If you're already doing them- good for you and keep it up.
For Upper Back Mass...
- heavy bent-over barbell rows
- heavy T-bar rows
For Upper Back Definition...
- wide-grip chins = outer lat width
- seated cable rows done with separate handles = inner back
- one-arm cable or dumbbell rows = lower lats
For Lower Back Mass...
- heavy deadlifts
- heavy stiff-legged deadlifts
For Lower Back Definition...
- good mornings
Shoulders and Traps
The shoulders, unlike the chest or tris, are one of those "burn" groups. Just hitting all three heads on the delts can consume all of your energy. The traps are very closely related to the shoulders, as they assist them in every shoulder movement. Together, they are involved in any movement that requires you to move your arms, which means virtually all upper-body movements use your shoulders and traps to at least some degree. A lot of teens (and adults) complain about difficulty raising their max bench, and a very common cause for this is a lack of shoulder strength. Your front delts are heavily involved in the bench press movement, so don't neglect them. In order to overload the deltoids properly, you must hit all three heads- and that includes the rear head!
For Deltoid Mass...
- heavy military presses or heavy push presses
- dumbbell presses
For Deltoid Definition...
- front dumbbell or plate raises = creates separation and striations within the anterior (front) head
- incline side lateral raises = medial (middle) head
- bent-over lateral raises = posterior (rear) head
For Trapezius Mass...
- shrugs (dumbbell or barbell)
For Trapezius Definition...
- upright rows
Every teen bodybuilder wants big arms, but the most aggravating thing is that they still seem to continue to focus on their biceps, rather than their triceps.
Trust me, "you will never have truly big arms unless you have truly big triceps."
They are my favorite muscle group to train, and if you begin to appreciate them and hit them with maximum intensity, they will probably be one of your favorites. Pumping up the tris makes your whole arm swell up with blood, making you look huge, and with that blood flows confidence. Any pressing movement involves the tris- so if you want to put up your next goal on the bench, try starting with some heavy dips and pressdowns.
For Triceps Mass...
- behind-the-back dips or regular dips, as heavy as possible
- close-grip bench presses
For Triceps Definition...
- pressdowns = overall definition (also a decent mass-builder)
- lying triceps extensions (skull crushers) = long head
The biceps recover faster than any other major muscle group in your body. They also vary in shape probably more than any other muscle when compared between multiple subjects. Some people possess long, thick biceps while others possess short, high-peaking ones, but in almost every case, people prefer the high peak over anything. Now you can work to achieve either to a certain extent, but usually the particular type you are born with is going to be the base of your biceps development.
The biceps are also of the best muscle groups to apply the cheating method to. Now, whether or not cheating is a good idea is a pretty controversial subject, so rather than trying to sum it up in a paragraph, I'll discuss it in detail in the biceps article that I will be writing in the near future. But one quick rule so I don't leave anybody hanging on that subject: develop your barbell curl technique before you try any cheating; do full, strict reps with reps ranging from 6-12.
For Biceps Mass
- barbell curls
For Biceps Definition...
- incline dumbbell curls = overall shaping movement
- preacher curls = lower biceps
- concentration curls = height of the biceps
The quads are probably the simplest muscle group to narrow down to one fundamental exercise: the one and only squat. You will need to include the squat in your leg routine from the beginning all the way to competition stages when you're training for maximum definition. Squats are responsible for producing more GH (growth hormone) than any other movement, increasing overall strength in the entire body.
So in other words, squatting can actually raise your bench. This doesn't come free though- squats are, in my opinion, the most grueling and intense movement in the routine.
So treat the weight as your opponent: come at it as hard as you can and it will make you stronger...approach it carelessly and you will get hurt.
For Quad Mass...
- heavy squats
- leg press
For Quad Definition...
- quad extensions = to develop all four heads, especially where the muscle inserts into the knee
- lunges = inside thighs
- front squats = outer thighs
The leg biceps are another often-neglected body part. However, the more developed the leg biceps are, the more your legs are going to meet in the middle and touch each other. This is very valuable in making the legs look a heck of a lot bigger. Also, if you play sports, these are very important because it is a known fact that disproportional legs are much more susceptible to injury than completely developed, solid legs. So make a habit of hitting the hamstrings with the same intensity as you would your biceps or chest.
For Hamstring Mass...
- Lying leg curls
For Hamstring Definition...
- Standing leg curls = to work the entire area and isolate one at a time
- Stiff-legged deadlifts = to work the hams while achieving a full stretch
The calves are often regarded as being the most difficult muscle to force into growth. However, there is a very simple explanation for this: not enough weight. A lot of bodybuilders do not realize that the calves are contracting every step you take. Now they may not contract through a full range of motion but they do, in fact, hold your body up for a split second quite a few times throughout the day. One of the most important aspects of this is that they do it one at a time, meaning that each calf takes its turn holding your body entire up. So training each leg with your bodyweight is actually right about where you want to be. I would say more than your bodyweight is needed to stress the muscles but since they only hold it there and do not work through any major range of motion, your bodyweight or right around there (depending on what shape you're in) should be about right. So don't be afraid to slide more on the leg press for calves than you do for the quads, you gotta do what you gotta do to make them grow.
For Calf Mass...
- Standing calf raises- as heavy as possible while maintaining the full range of motion
For Calf Definition...
- Seated calf raises = to develop the soleus muscle of the lower calf
- Leg press calf raises = to work through an entire range of motion for overall development
The forearms are another often neglected body part but should be taken seriously. They are involved in virtually every upper body movement whether they are helping you grip a weight or helping to pull or push. They are fairly simple to train, since they only require a few movements to be developed. However, this is not to say that they are easy to train. They are a very intense muscle group to train and tough to force into growth because you use them constantly throughout your daily life. So if you want to look big in a T-shirt and want to avoid dropping the bar when doing heavy deadlifts, you must train your forearms with heavy weights. Forearms really don't have any mass or definition-specific movements so I just listed the basics. The range of motion for forearms is pretty limited so all of the movements are going to be some form of the ones listed, but that doesn't mean you can't get creative.
- Barbell wrist curls
- Behind-the-back wrist curls
- Reverse curls
- Reverse wrist curls
Abs are very, very hard to get. If there is one area that anybody from the teens to housewives want, it's abs. This is mainly due to the fact that abs are so closely related to overall health and fitness. Not everybody wants to be a bodybuilder, but most generally, people from any walk of life desire to be in better shape. And people notice that anyone with abs also happens to be in awesome shape. I like to train abs whenever they're not sore, some people like train them every other day, some every day. It's your job to experiment and find what works best for you, and stick with it.
- Reverse crunches
For The Hip Flexors...
- Leg Raises
- Hanging knee raises
For the Obliques...
- Seated Twists