In my many years of training with and observing countless bodybuilders, it became clear that even the best athletes have weaknesses in their physiques. Some had small arms, others were lacking in the lower body, and I used to have rather underdeveloped calves. But the great thing about bodybuilding is that you have the power to focus on a weakness and make it a strength. Here are a few common physique weaknesses, along with effective ways to fix them.
WEAKNESS: SMALL BICEPS
SOLUTION: SEATED BARBELL CURLS
How To: It’s difficult to go extremely heavy on barbell curls because you’re at such a mechanical disadvantage at the bottom of the movement (from arms extended to elbows bent 90 degrees), making the weight too light to elicit maximal gains in the top half of the motion. Yet doing barbell curls seated means you work over only the top half, allowing you to go much heavier because you’re strongest in that range. Sit on a fat or short-back bench and hold a straight bar at your thighs. But don’t completely shun full-range-of motion reps; start the rest of your exercises with your arms fully extended.
WEAKNESS: SMALL CALVES
How To: When you have an underdeveloped area—especially one as stubborn as calves—you need to attack it with high frequency, high volume, and utmost intensity. If your calves lack size, train them 3–4 days per week. Or try doing 3–4 trisets of standing calf raises, seated calf raises, and donkey calf raises, 15–20 reps per set.
WEAKNESS: UNDERDEVELOPED QUADS
SOLUTION: FRONT SQUATS
How To: Every good lifter knows that squats are the best exercises to add size to the lower body. When doing standard squats, though, it’s impossible to isolate the quads from the glutes. There’s one simple (yet physically demanding) way to involve more of the quads while de-emphasizing the glutes and hamstrings: the front squat. Squatting with the bar in front helps keep your torso upright and puts most of the tension on your quads, not your glutes and hams.
WEAKNESS: NARROW SHOULDERS
SOLUTION: HEAVY LATERAL RAISES
How To: To add girth to the middle deltoids, give them a little shock with heavy dumbbell laterals. Think about it: No one goes heavy on lateral raises; it’s all about going lighter. So if you typically do laterals with, say, 25-pounders for 10 reps, move up to 35s or 40s for sets of 6–8, even if it means cheating a bit with body English on the final few reps. - FLEX