Targeting gains to even out proportion

  • gamble

    Posts: 48

    Dec 04, 2015 10:21 PM GMT
    So, I've always been a fit and active person, but only within the past 2 years or so have I been trying to gain weight, and so far it's worked! Overall, I've gained about 25lbs, mostlly within the first year or so, and from then on I've been basically maintaining the weight I have now. For the first time in my life I feel like I have a normal, adult male body that more or less blends in with the crowd. Here's a recent progress pic for reference:


    Yes, this is my AFTER pic, lol! I've always been extremely skinny, so just imagine what I would look like if I lost 20lbs to get a feel for where I started.

    I don't especially care about having a bodybuilder's physique, and overall I'm pretty happy with my size now, with the exception of my pecs. As you can see, the upper pecs especially are lagging pretty far behind everything else. I'd like to focus my gains on my chest as well as on my lats and deltoids to work towards a better V shape.

    Converseley, my legs/glutes/calves gain weight pretty much instantaneously, so I actually have been working them out at a maintenance weight for the past six months or so to avoid looking pear-shaped and allow my upper body to catch up (I also bike and hike a lot too so they're getting worked out in other ways). I wiegh nearly 180, but most people estimate my weight to be much lower because so much of it is concentrated in my lower half.

    As far as my specific issue, I know that the idea is to hit the pecs with heavy weights and low-ish reps (6-8 ) to failure and to focus on incline press movements and flies, but I'm already doing that pretty intensely for an hour once a week. It's of course always possible that the issue could be form, but I've read and re-read about recommended forms and am not sloppy about stuff like that. I've also asked people to critique my form, and no one's ever pointed out that I'm doing anything terribly wrong. It's also possible that my triceps are somehow taking on a lot of the work that my pecs are supposed to be doing as my max weight and development in that area has always been relatively strong.

    In general terms - how is one supposed to focus on gains in one particular body area to even out proportions if you're already basically trying your hardest to develop it? Is it by dropping the other areas to a maintenance weight or stopping working them out altogether? From what I've read in message boards you must work all the parts of your body - especially your legs and back - to get all the right hormones flowing and to strengthen the supporting muscles that help you in the exercises you want to focus on (say, the incline bench press), but by this logic it doesn't seem that anyone would be able to focus gains in a particular area at all.
  • gamble

    Posts: 48

    Dec 04, 2015 10:31 PM GMT
    Here are some links to representative workout routines I've done (courtesy of the Jefit app) - I try to switch them up every 2 or 3 months to keep things fresh. I don't think there's anything too out of the ordinary about them though:
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    Dec 04, 2015 10:35 PM GMT
    Suggest bench presses with dumbbells in 12-15 repetitions.
  • Destinharbor

    Posts: 5263

    Dec 04, 2015 10:43 PM GMT
    Sounds like you're doing everything fine. The upper pec area is hard to target. I've been focusing on that area, too. I've gotten some results lately by remixing my routine from chest, shoulders, back to simply front and back. With traps added to the back and rear delts, and on front day I stay mostly on dumbells and start flat with lifts and flies and then keep raising the angle through almost verticle, notch by notch. Again doing lifts and flies at each. I will use the fly cables as well and also do flat and incline. Lastly, I do three sets of lifting a fixed weight bar straight up along the chest almost to shoulder height. And if your gym has Hammerstrength machines, try sitting on a a 45 degree one way, then the other for one handed incline lifts. Put your free hand on your upper pec/collerbone and you'll feel the best angle.
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    Dec 05, 2015 4:47 AM GMT
    There is a video series on called "Built By Science" that I strongly recommend. They take a unique approach and focus on the mechanics of movement and help you visualize exactly what is going on with your muscles, bones, and joints, as you exercise.

    The chest, for example, should be hit from different angles for maximum development. Upper chest will be more involved in incline presses and flyes, and you'll see why in the video. I am also more focused on developing this part of my chest so, rather than reducing the intensity of the other exercises, I prioritize the incline movements, doing them first. My current routine is:

    Incline dumbbell press - 4 sets
    Incline flyes - 3 sets
    Bench press - 3 sets
    Pushups - 3 sets
    Cable crossovers or decline flyes - 3 sets

    I vary my weights and reps from week to week for 6 weeks like this:

    Week 1 - 15-20 reps
    Week 2 - 12-15 reps
    Week 3 - 9-12 reps
    Week 4 - 7-9 reps
    Week 5 - 5-7 reps
    Week 6 - 3-5 reps

    so each week I'm increasing weights and dropping reps, always shooting for failure on every set. I also add an intensity builder to the last set of each exercise. Rest/pause for the first two weeks, supersets the next two weeks, and drop-sets the last two weeks. This is all based on "Shortcut to Size", another program, and I've had pretty significant results with these principles.
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    Dec 05, 2015 6:52 PM GMT
    You are over thinking it, you need to work each body party consistently to build a well proportioned and symmetrical physiques. You may want to add in some further accessory exercises to develop a certain part however but thats later on down the line.
    I think your body needs more thickness, the clay so to speak, which you can sculpt later, so I would recommend some power lifting.
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    Dec 06, 2015 3:10 AM GMT

    I think you're doing too much. I do chest once every two weeks, and it's for sure my best body part. That is low for most, but it works great for me.

    After my warm up-light walk around, 7-8 sets with little weight (like basically nothing, just to warm up)

    Dumbbell bench:

    I do 8 reps max (2:30 rest inbetween each set)
    6 reps max
    4 reps max
    2 reps max
    back to original weight max superset

    Then i do another superset of very light flies and...then i am done. Rest for 5-6 minutes before i warm up for my next muscle group, if no more working out that day i'll do my stretch routine. Super important.

    I am also a naturally skinny person and see bullshit gains if i try and follow what most others do. I get awesome gains if i lift heavy but minimize volume and get plenty of rest and keep my diet right.

    Those routines you see, guys hitting 5-6 different exercises for multiple sets per bodypart, are a joke if you're not juicing or have extremely good genetics. 90% of people overtrain. Most guys gain a certain amount first year or year and a half then look the same rest of their life, no matter what they do...cause they're overtrainning their entire life. You can get away with overtraining early but eventually you'll plateau and that's when the juice comes in or just a decade of stagnation, blaming it on their genes. Most people i know that juice, did so cause they stopped making those quick gains they first saw, instead of working out properly they just added some secret sauce.

    I understand your legs grow too fast, a problem i wish i had lol, but heavy leg work, as in lifting heavy, releases a lot of yummy yummy hormones and growth factors that will help your chest get bigger.

    Heavy is better. Rest is best. Working out doesn't make your muscles grow, recovery does.

    Anyways, i think you look good. You do anything for your neck besides shrugs?

  • gamble

    Posts: 48

    Dec 09, 2015 9:32 PM GMT
    Thanks for the tips everybody. I guess I'll just more or less forget about targeting gains on my chest at this time and just see if I can raise and maintain my caloric intake past 3500 for overall weight gain instead. icon_neutral.gif

    Hypertrophile: I really like that Built By Science series and have been watching it between sets at the gym. It's very clear and informative (and the model is easy on the eyes too).

    training_guy: Thanks. I haven't focused on a powerlifitng routine so far, so I think it could be a good change of tack to try that next. There seem to be a lot of contradictory opinions out there as far as actual workout plans go. Many of them also seem to be designed for 4/5 days a week, which would definitely have me worried about overtraining. Let me know if there are any in particular you recommend.

    badbug: Just doing chest training once every two weeks would be a big psychological barrier for me I think. Lol. Do you feel like you make gains more easily in your chest, or has it been a lagging feature for you as well? Also, the thing that stands out most about the routine you posted is the longer rest time between sets. Have you played around with that very much over time? I've never really deviated much from 60sec rest periods and think that could be a new angle to try as well. I've read that, especially for people with higher metabolisms, one should try to limit their overall workout to under an hour, so I'm gessing that higher rest periods and fewer excercises, which you also mentioned, go hand in hand.
  • gamble

    Posts: 48

    Dec 09, 2015 9:36 PM GMT
    badbug: Also, thanks! I have never really targeted my neck specifically, but shoulder exercises have always been a comparatively easier are for me to take on weight. I generally just do shrugs, shoulder presses and Arnold presses, but I'm also a bartender, so all that cocktail shaking probably helps too!
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    Dec 10, 2015 7:39 AM GMT

    Necks tend to grow fast cause they're so neglected. Mind you won't sprout a thick neck overnight but you'll probably see the tape measure move quite a bit in the first 3-4 months.

    Google some simple neck exercises, they're easy and fast. It's a neck, so good form and slow speed is a key. You don't want to worry about lifting heavy for your neck! icon_smile.gif

    Resting 2-3 minutes inbetween sets is good for power and size. 1 minute rests are more about the pump and attacking with volume. Since you're already keeping your exercise time under an hour, it's basically the same principle...not overloading the muscles, but giving them time to recover and really breaking them down for both maximum size and strength gains. The theory being, we already know you don't gain muscle as easy as some, so we're training more for the way your body adds mass. Heavy lifting is going to strenghten ligaments and increase bone density and help release more good hormones that will help you grow.....we already know, that you need help with that or else you would of gotten big sooner! icon_smile.gif

    When i first started out, i did what they told me. 1 minute rest.......when i moved to 3 minute rest periods, i had a person or two looking at me sideways. 1 guy even came up to me and told me i would never get anywhere resting so much.......2 years later, i was 35 lbs heavier and he was the same size as 2 years before.

    Does it mean it will work for you? I don't know. I do know, resting more will allow you to lift heavier for sure. And generally, big squats and deads mean decently sized people!

    Yeah my chest,triceps and back have always grown faster than everything else. I got skinnier legs and forearms though my forearms are getting a little bigger as i age.

    I understand 2 weeks being a psychological is for me and i know it works for me! lol

    The idea is though, pretty simple. big food, big lifts, big rest.