Sometimes people forget just what the sport of bodybuilding used to be. Fitness enthusiasts early on in the sport were incredibly concerned with not only size, but also overall muscular symmetry and proportions. The body these athletes sought after was commonly referred to as the “X-Man” or “X” shape with the “X” representing broad shoulders, a narrow waste and wide legs. The ultimate goal was to have a symmetrical, aesthetic physique having every part built as though perfectly formed in accordance with a complex yet flowing mathematical equation. To the bodybuilders who founded this epic sport, the geometry behind Da Vinci’s “Vitruvian Man” was true north.
No one muscle was to be worked harder than another. As Arnold Schwarzenegger once said, “If I want to increase one muscle a half inch, the rest of the body has to increase. I would never make [just] one muscle increase or decrease.” Each and every muscle had to be a certain size when compared to another. But as the sport became more mainstream, the once sought after “X” physique began to change and has unfortunately, largely been forgotten. Nowadays, one is more likely to see what could be referred to as a “V” man, if you get the drift.
Today, it seems to be all about size, size, size instead of biomechanical beauty and conditioning, and we all see prime examples of this at the local gym. Many guys, determined to achieve a dominating physique, show up, blast biceps and chest for three hours straight and then call it a day. In fact, it would appear that every day is either chest or biceps day for the modern bodybuilder; no warm-ups, no stretching, no breathing, just as heavy as possible. Where did all the finesse go?
Dominic Current, NPC judge and Max Muscle franchisee, notes that, “Many guys show up to competitions either very big and poorly conditioned, or with great lines and symmetry, but lacking in size. It takes a perfect mesh of the two to bring the total package. There are a lot of one-dimensional guys out there. This is why so many of them get frustrated, wondering why they placed so low for a given competition. You have to place equal emphasis on all aspects of aesthetics if you want to bring the real deal.”
Well, there is a better way to build your body and it will not only be more aesthetically pleasing, but also more biomechanically sustainable.
WORK IT ALL OVER
More often than not, the muscles you cannot readily see in the mirror are the muscles that pull everything together for a well-built, finished product. Take a set of your mid-back muscles for example: the rhomboids. These muscles are located near the spine between your shoulder blades and are responsible for pulling your shoulders back and helping you keep your back straight. If you learn to isolate them, you will naturally pull your shoulders back, which will help broaden the appearance of your chest and shoulders as well as help utilize every inch of your height. So why would you beat the heck out of your chest instead of focusing on mid-back? Isolating your chest muscles alone, while also neglecting your back muscles, will only draw your shoulders forward and terrorize your posture.
Another example of a frequently skipped muscle group would be your triceps. Us guys want big arms right? So why then do some of us train our biceps to be able to curl a bus in order to do so but seem to neglect one important fact: triceps make up about 65 percent of our upper arms and thus the majority of their overall size. Nothing fills out the sleeves of a T-shirt like well-developed triceps. So if you want big arms, don’t skip triceps. On the contrary, focus on them and be prepared to switch that medium sized T-shirt for an XL.
This brings us to the most commonly skipped muscle group of them all: legs. Why, oh why, do guys neglect legs so frequently? Sure they are tough to train and not as fun to flex in the mirror as say biceps are, but they serve a crucial role in your progress. You not only burn the most amount of calories when you train them, and thus fat, but, as a man, you generate the highest levels of serum testosterone because of it. More useable testosterone in the bloodstream equals more natural muscle hypertrophy, as well as a hardy boost in sex drive and overall vitality. Consider yourself warned: if you do not train your legs, you are robbing yourself of the results you crave.
Now be honest: Are you guilty of some or all of the aesthetic crimes just mentioned? Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of it then. Take a deep breath and prepare to be presented with the next 10 weeks of your life. Go ahead and take care of all the other muscles as you have, but add these workouts to your weekly repertoire. You can thank us later.
Be sure to begin each workout with a 5-minute bout of light cardio. This will get the heart pumping and warm up the core of your body in preparation for the epicness that is about to ensue. And remember, if you are not getting adequate protein in your diet, the best workout in the whole world will not help you put on muscle. On the contrary, if you work out without enough protein in your system, you are catapulting your body into a catabolic state.
Keep in mind that, as mentioned earlier, these workouts are not meant to be all-inclusive. You will still need to train your biceps, chest, quadriceps, core and do your cardio all on your own. Use this as a guide on how to train the muscles people frequently skip. Truth be told though, even if you did just these muscle groups, you’d still build a physique superior to the “chest and biceps” guys. We’ll see you in 10 weeks.
Aesthetics: Day One
- Machine Shoulder Press 3 sets of 12 reps.
- Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Press: 3 sets of 8 reps.
- Dumbbell Rear Flys: 3 sets of 10 reps.
- Standing Straight Bar Cable Press-Down: 3 sets of 10 reps.
- Seated Dumbbell Overhead Tricep Extensions: 3 sets of 8 reps.
- Decline Bench EZ Bar Extensions: 3 sets of 6 reps.
Aesthetics: Day Two
CALVES AND TRAPS SUPERSETS
- Smith Machine Calf Press: 12 reps then move directly into the Green Mile Walks.
- Green Mile Walks: Walk for 60 seconds. (Rest 60 seconds then repeat this superset.)
- Standing Machine Calf Raises: 12 reps then move directly into Dumbbell Shrugs.
- Dumbbell Shrugs: Do 10 reps.
- Rest for 60 seconds, then repeat this superset.
GLUTES AND LOWER BACK SUPERSETS
- Machine Iso-Glute One-Legged Press: 10 reps per leg then move directly into Good Mornings.
- Good Mornings: 15 reps. (Rest 60 seconds, then repeat this superset.)
- Glute Bridge Repetitions: 30 reps then move directly into Superman.
- Supermans: 30 reps.
- Rest 60 seconds, then repeat this superset.
Aesthetics: Day Three
- Underhand Grip Lat Pull-Downs: 3 sets of 10 reps.
- Seated Cable Rows: 3 sets of 8 reps.
- Seated One-Arm Cable Rows: 3 sets of 8 reps.
- Machine Lying Hamstring Curls: 3 sets of 10 reps.
- One-Leg Hamstring Curl: 3 sets of 12 reps.
By Patrick Cunningham, NSCA, CSNC