Pump Up Lagging Muscles

Ronnie Coleman explains how to bring up lagging muscles, without cutting back on the training of dominant muscles


How can I bring up a lagging muscle, without cutting back on the training of dominant muscles?


Negative terms, such as “cutting back,” are not in my vocabulary. If I need to bring up a muscle or a muscle group, I work it harder. Regardless of how hard I’m training everything else, I find a way to reach deep down inside myself to force lagging muscles to grow faster, whether by more weight, more intensity or more reps with the same weight. I do whatever it takes to go beyond any training level I’ve known. Here are the principles behind that strategy.

ADOPT A WINNER’S ATTITUDECommit yourself to a come-frombehind victory for the lagging muscle. Think of being down by 20 points going into the final stretch of a game; yet, in your mind, you know you’re going to win. It’s destiny. No matter how hard you continue to train your dominant muscles — and you must — the lagging muscle will rise to the challenge and surpass them. Make it thrive on its role as the Cinderella underdog. Prove that it has the guts never to be defeated.

THINK “STRONGER” AND “HARDER”When I want to whip a lagging muscle into shape, I think in terms of two goals: more strength and more hardness. By concentrating on building more strength, I have to use more weight; more weight requires harder work; harder work takes me beyond the level of my previous workout, which pushes the muscle to further growth. In short, an increase in size results only from my commitment to increase my strength. 

Hardness, on the other hand, is built by repetitions. Just as steel is hardened by incessant pounding with a hammer, so a muscle is hardened by pressurizing it drum-tight with blood and ripping its fibers from rep after unending rep. Higher reps mean a harder muscle. That’s the reason most of my reps are in the 12-15 range. A huge muscle is worthless if it isn’t ripped and steel-hard to the core.

NEVER GO TO FAILURE: Always go beyond it. Failure begets failure. If you think in terms of failure, that’s what you will achieve. This is a version of the “winner’s attitude” rule. Before I begin a set, I pick a target number of repetitions. That target number is always to failure. I then make sure I never stop short of it. Almost always, I do more reps, regardless of how difficult they are. This is another reason for using high reps. If my sets are in the 12- to 15-rep range, it’s easier to squeeze out one or two more quality reps. If my projected maximum had been three or four strained reps, trying for an extra rep beyond those would be counterproductive. I wouldn’t be working the muscle at all.

VARY YOUR WORKOUTS: Change the order of your exercises each workout. It’ll refresh your intensity.

TRAIN IT TWICE A WEEK: Train the lagging muscle twice a week, as hard as you can. Apply all of these rules, and I guarantee you’ll no longer have a “bullied” muscle. - FLEX


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