Oftentimes, people will email me about a “stubborn” area they are having a hard time slicing and dicing.
Back, shoulders, and triceps are the top three upper body areas I most often hear about so I wanted to offer you guys some tips on how to get these areas to budge and invite anyone to take their FREE WEEK at sweatlocal and learn how to put all of this into action.
1. BODY SPLITS
Yeah, yeah, yeah… I know you’re busy so you want a “full body” workout all the time cause it makes you feel like you’re getting shit done.
And you are, of course, but if you want to cause THE MOST CHANGE in a very specific area, consider dedicating one to two workout days to slice and dice it.
Full body days are great, for sure. We have them here at sweatlocal but we are also unapologetic about not succumbing to the popularity pressure of constant full body days.
We know people come here to get #HotHealthyHappy and that means having dedicated arm days, leg days, glute days, and even hammering out chest and back, shoulders and triceps on certain days of the week.
Yes, an ENTIRE workout session dedicated to pumping massive amounts of blood into certain muscle groups, a full 20 – 40 minutes to overloading one specific area and sending the necessary hormonal signals to the body that these muscles are going to be required to do more than before.
One of the things we spend a lot of time coaching is form. And that, in part, is to keep everyone safe and injury free, of course…
… but it’s also because most people come our way UNABLE TO OR UNAWARE OF how to isolate muscles during a workout.
The bicep curl is a classic example.
Folks will go super heavy and actually end up using their shoulders and hips to bring the barbell up to their chest rather than keep their shoulders still, elongate their biceps, and lock their hips into place so that the bicep becomes the only muscle able to pull.
For sure, you’ll pull less weight per rep but each movement will be done for max EFFECTIVENESS and you can finally boast those Popeye biceps you’ve been coveting :).
If you’ve spent a lot of time in the gym with very little change, this may be a big reason why you just can’t seem to sculpt out that “problem area.”
3. VOLUME – High rep or heavy????
You have to FORCE muscles to change and TOTAL VOLUME is the name of that game.
Volume = sets x reps x weight
There are so many ways to create volume!!!!!! Don’t get “stuck” and dogmatic about “the best” way.
3 sets x 15 x 95 = 4,275 lbs lifted
5 sets x 5 x 135 = 3,375 lbs lifted
You’re working hard for both but which one did you actually LIFT MORE???? The lighter weight.
With that said, if you’ve been doing 3 sets of 15 at 95 for a damn year, then there’s no way your body is going to change more than it has already!!!
Your body has done and adapted a LONG ASS TIME AGO! Which means we’re on to #4…
4. PROGRESSIVE OVERLOAD
Don’t wait for a particular weight “to get easy” before bumping up to the next level.
Spend 6 -12 weeks grinding out a particular resistance and then, go up. Even if it’s just for ONE SET.
Folks forget (or don’t understand) that PROGRESSIVE OVERLOAD doesn’t mean you need to do all 3 sets at the same weight.
You can do set #1 at your comfy. Set #2 at your next level and depending on how that feels and how well you were able to maintain form, go down or stay at your next level for Set #3.
Make it a game to do a few more reps at that next level each time you do that movement. You’ll be surprised just how impactful focusing on progressive overload can be.
Before I get a bunch of emails telling me “the value of cheat reps” and the value of 5 sets x 5 at 135 or 165, know that I’M IN COMPLETE AGREEMENT.
The body is amazing and complicated AS HELL.
The goal of this post is NOT A COMPREHENSIVE one but to help people NAIL THE BASICS and nail them CONSISTENTLY over a 4 -12 week period of time which is important for change to take place.
We all know… one workout done well, won’t change a damn thing.
Finally, take a good hard look at intensity. How hard are you actually working??? Like REALLY working?
How often are you phoning it in? How often are you NOT doing an exercise because “it’s hard” or “you don’t feel like it” or “you’re not good at it.”
One of the reasons people adore coming here for their workouts is because hands down, the decision of intensity has ALREADY BEEN MADE FOR THEM.
They’re going to get more sets, more reps, and lift more weight in less time here than if they were working solo creating their own workout.
There’s no avoiding that delicious, humbling BURN that is actually NEEDED to create change in the muscle.
Long story short, if those shoulders or triceps just don’t seem to be coming in, evaluate
- your body splits
- if you’re isolating vs. just moving weights around hoping something good will happen
- Are you getting more volume in than you were 4 months ago?
- What are you doing to progress?
- Are you consistently working in that “trouble” area
- And how intensely are you hitting that spot?
If you need help putting all this together come take your your FREE WEEK at sweatlocal.