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Balanced Training Recommendations


1) Perform an equal number of exercises with the same relative intensity between opposing muscle groups (eg, back and chest, hamstrings and quads, biceps and triceps). If you already have a deficit, try to do more sets on the weaker/disregarded bodyaprt until you have achieved better balance. Then train bodyparts equally.
2) To bring your training into balance, focus on isolation (single-joint) exercises while also modifying the compound movements that target the various muscle groups. For example some exercises, such as the squat and leg press, are generally regarded as quadriceps moves, even though they absolutely involve the hamstrings and glutes. However, by altering foot placement (wider, higher on platforms etc.) you can shift the emphasis to the less involved hamstrings.
3) If you have an existing deficit between opposing muscle groups, spend some extra time stretching the stronger muscle group and strengthening the weaker one.
4) If you find a specific bodypart to be particularly stubborn at responding to an adequate training stimulus, consider adding an extra day (or two) specifically dedicated to working the stubborn bodypart until it catches on.

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Beach Bummed


Competitive bodybuilders usually train for symmetry and proportion in an effort to build an aesthetically pleasing physique. There are many individuals who go to the gym to build up their beach muscles, disregarding symmetry and proportion in designing their training programs. Instead of training opposing muscle groups equally, they sometimes ignore the muscles they cannot see (back, hamstrings, calves, quads) and focus on the muscles they admire in the mirror everyday (chest, biceps, shoulders and abs). Although training specific muscle groups more than others can create an unbalanced-looking physique, disregarding a muscle group over time can potentially lead to other problems that may subject the body to injury.

One common mistake with regard to balanced training is performing an unbalanced training program between the chest and back muscles. The amount of time, energy, effort, volume and frequency between the agonist chest muscles and the antagonists back muscles may not be equal, or even close. A simple example would be an athlete who performs 4 sets os four exercises for the chest (for a total number of 16 sets) and does only 3 sets of three exercises for the back (for a total number of 9 working sets). Following this unbalanced training regime over time will result in back muscles much weaker than the chest muscles. This imbalance may lead to a slightly kyphotic posture (forward/rounded shoulders) that can potentially cause shoulder problems because of the faulty posture. In addition to the stronger chest muscles (compared to the back muscles) pullong the shoulders forward, inadequate stretching of the chest musculature can further contribute to this problem.

For some people, training legs consists of quads and that is it. The disregard their hamstrings while training only the quadriceps. Exercises such as the leg extensions, hack squats and front squats place a large amount of emphasis on the quads. Although these exercises are great you need to do an equal amount of hamstring work with leg curls and romanian deadlifts to stress both muscle groups. Distributing attention evenly to both muscle groups can give you healthier knees and lower back, as well as fewer hamstring strains because of an unbalanced hamstring-to-quad strength ration.

A less obvious training error woth regard to balanced training concerns the shoulders. Overhead shoulder press, incline bench press, flat bench press and other chest and shoulder pressing movements are critical for maximal muscle development. However, these exercises focus on the major muscle groups such as the deltoids, pectoralis major, pectoralis minor and other muscles known as prime movers. Often ignored in a training regime is the training or isolation of the smaller muscle groups in the shoulder known as the rotator cuff (the supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor and subscapularis) that are critical in keeping the upper arm in the socket of the shoulder. Failure to train these smaller muscles groups, two of which are not even visible can create an imbalance between the large prime movers and small stabilisers. This lack of imbalance in strength may result in bursts of bursitis, tendinitis or even rotator cuff tears in the shoulder joint.


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Static King


One of the best ways to improve your strength is by moving nothing at all.

If your goal is strength, putting a zero-movement strategy into your repertoire could be exactly what you need.

By way a review, a static contraction, also known as an isometric, is one which the muscular force equals the external resistance, producing no movement whatsoever. For example, you loaded up the barbell on the bench press with much more than your 1RM (one rep max) and began pressing against it with all your might, you would have a static contraction. Even if the bar didn’t budge, despite the lack of movement a ton of muscular activity would be going on inside the muscle.

Research confirms you can produce more force and strength statically than you can during positive contractions. How can this benefit you in terms of strength? You need to look no further than your nearest sticking point. A static-training plan can help you blast past those sticking points that usually act as roadblocks. The good news is that you can apply the technique to just about any exercise from the squats to overhead press even to bicep curls. Be warned, though: it is more difficult than it looks. Applying continual maximal effort without movement is brutal and effective.

Be Specific
One key factor to keep in mind is that, although strength increases are associated with static training, they are angle specific. When you train statically at a particular angle, you gain strength and size only at that angle. Take for instance the overhead press. If you worked statically at one particular point along the path of the ROM, you would gain strength there and nowhere else. The gain in strength is not necessarily distributed along the entire range of motion. For this reason, you need to apply static training at various places.

The Weak Link
So where do you start? Go straight to the weakest point of your range of motion, which is near the bottom of most exercises. If you are working on the bench press, set the safety bars to the sticking point and load up the bar. Forget about it being your “weakest point” and be sure to load more weight than you could normally move so that you are certain to have absolutely no movement. If you are working out at peak gym hours or you do not feel comfortable putting that much weight on the bar, you can work with and empty bar, but from underneath the safeties. Simply press the bar up into the safeties as hard as possible.

A couple of items to note: On your pressing movements be very careful not al allow your hands to slip. Using chalk during static training is a good idea, because if your hands slip, your wrists can sustain severe injury, second, for the pulling movements throw on some pulling straps to make sure your pulls are not hindered by your grip strength. If you do not wear straps, use chalk instead.

Adding a static day a couple of times a month into your routine across all bodyparts will help trigger serious strength gains. The better able you are to blast through sticking points, the more weight you will ultimately move during standard weight training sessions.


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Pushing Legs To New Growth


Legs seem like the hardest bodypart to use intensity techniques on. Besides the leg extension what can I do to push my legs to new growth?

Legs are enough of a killer without making your workout harder. Partials are a great technique to use with legs. You can do partial reps on the leg press or with squats in the Smith machine or squat rack. Another good exercise would be partial lunges. Pick a heavier weight than you would normally use, and descend only halfway through each rep.


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How do I use partials correctly in my routine? Should I use them at all?


Partials, where you work through only a portion of a particular movement, are very valuable to bodybuilders because they help you overcome weaknesses on certain exercises. If you are benching, for example, and you are unable to do a complete rep with a heavy load, this inability may be due to weaker triceps. Most athletes have trouble with the bench between the halfway point and lockout at the top of the rep, and training in a power rack or Smith machine lets you start at that sticking point without having to worry about the bar falling on your chest. You can therefore make the toughest part of the movement much easier by training to overcome it without risking injury.