Balanced strength and development is the key
Boy am I giving you some weight training gold here!
To avoid just about every problem in lifting weights from injuries to certain body parts being to big or too small or for creating athletic success here is your answer. The problem though is that just like an airplane you will be constantly be off course with obstacles in the way the whole journey.
There will always be problems. Injuries no matter how hard you try will be unavoidable. Especially if you start pushing your limits. Genetics will, to a certain extent, determine which muscles develop faster and stronger. Lifestyle inconsistencies are inevitible. Training is training. It's important but it's not the be all end all.
For balanced strength and develop look at yourself with wide open eyes. Be honest. Throw away your ego. Here's a an idea of what I mean.
Legs then back then shoulders.
Unless you have the genes of an Olympic Speed Skater make your leg training a priority. If you want all round leg development, full range of motion, below parallel, high bar squats. Simple. You hit every muscle group in the lower body. Then isolate the posterior chain with an exercises that hits the hamstrings. If you have tiny calves train them – train them everyday if you have to – they will grow eventually. All other exercises are simply for variety. Yes, I know Dorian Yates built his legs with leg presses but this was after years of doing squats.
The back, all of the back, is your next priority area. The back is your second engine. The back responds to every rep range – low and very high. Make heavy rows your priority. Make them strict whether they are seated cable or barbell or one arm. Row hard and heavy. As a by product your bicep tendons, hands and supporting muscles will get super strong if you row hard and heavy in good style. Chins and pulldowns are your next key exercise. Not necessarily in the same workout. Heavy guys (250lbs plus) should still be able to do some chins. For the lightweights, don't dismiss the power of strict and heavy pulldowns. After this the one area that is majorly lacking is rear delt power. I say power because if they are weak you will lose power. I like to think that whatever you can DB fly you can Bent over DB Raise. Can you do that? Not many can. After that, whatever takes your fancy.
Shoulder strength and development will do more for the look of your physique than anything else. Take a skinny dweeb and give him shoulders and he will automatically look more athletic. Now shoulders just need strict overhead pressing exercises. Seated or standing. Standing looks more impressive but may not give you the development you need. Try seated. Try a high angled bench rather than a 90 degree one. There are lots of nuances to shoulder training so experiment. Shoulders need heavy weights. After that do what you like.
The same rules apply for what's left. Chest would be next then arms. Abs are tricky. They should be worked hard and heavy from time to time just like any other bodypart and they should easily be as strong if not more so than the lower back. Ahh, the lower back.
What about deadlifts? This will send shock waves but I don't think the deadlift is a necessary exercise. I think the current trend of just deadlifting super heavy weights in bad form, with hitching and dipping under the weight and whatever else it takes to stand up with a heavy weight are just plain stupid. The best deadlift for development is the Romanian Deadlift. It's strict, works a ton of muscle and is useful for overall development in the posterior chain. The regular deadlift has become nothing more than a test of strength. Done correctly like in Powerlifting with a regular stance it is beautiful but when bastardized the lift is ugly, dangerous and counter productive. If you want to test your strength then fine. If you want development then not so good. More in another article.
- Train the legs, back and shoulders as your priority muscles.
- Train the chest, arms and abs as secondary muscle groups.
- If a muscle group lags behind then put in extra effort to 'catch up'.
- Don't sacrifice good form just to lift a heavy weight – it'll bite you eventually.
- Balance out any glaring strengths and weaknesses in development and strength.
The great Larry Scott wasn't born with perfect genetics but he sure made the most of them. Along with Vince Girodnda they balanced out his physique perfectly and he became the first and second Mr. Olympia.