Spoiler: they are some of the easiest muscles in the body to develop
When we think of a masterpiece physique within the realm of bodybuilding, our minds straight away shoot to the Golden Era of bodybuilding aesthetics from the ’50s to the ’70s. Those physiques were the pinnacle of what it meant to be an architect of your own body.
However, for most of us, having Golden Era level physiques is unattainable simply because we don't have world-class genetics nor are we enhanced by PED’s. That’s why we have to focus on developing certain muscle groups that give the illusion that we are “naturally enhanced” as Youtuber Alpha Destiny likes to say.
There are three muscle groups in particular that are usually neglected, leaving the potential open for explosive and quick gains due to them never being trained. So when we target them, they can create the illusion of a more developed and bigger all-round physique. This is a game-changer.
#1 The Traps And Neck
The Trapezius muscle is a large upper back muscle group that extends all the way up the neck, therefore being more visible on a daily basis, above clothing. When you look at someone, you are probably not going to notice their pecks, because they are hidden underneath a shirt, but the traps peak out the shirt.
The traps are also the muscle group that tends to grow the most when individuals take anabolic steroids. This is because the traps have some of the highest number of androgen receptors, which are the things that androgenic hormones (steroids) activate when taken.
For this reason, the average guy won't have big traps. However, if you start to target them in the correct way, you can easily grow them, largely to the fact that you’ve probably never trained them in the right way.
The traps respond best to heavy training, and I mean heavy training. Therefore there is no point to go lighter and try shrug with perfect form because the incredible strength capacity of the traps means that they only get stimulated effectively through extreme over load and heavy weights.
This means performing cheat reps, which takes us on to the best movement to build the traps.
Trap bar power shrugs:
The trap bar power shrug is a shrug performed with the trap bar, but you perform cheat reps, meaning you use leg drive to get the weight up and shrugged. This means you can overload it with loads of weight, and as we know, this is the best way to grow the traps.
The trap bar isn't called the trap bar for no reason, it literally targets the traps. In addition to this, the neutral grip makes it easier to lift heavy weight because of the wrist position, as opposed to a regular deadlift which leaves your wrist in a weak position.
The wider than shoulder-width position of the trap bar also means that it has better trap activation, so all in all, this movement is by far the most superior trap builder.
This exercise should be performed in a low rep range (5 or less) in 5 or fewer sets. A 5x5 is my preferred route for this.
Another lesser-known secret of the traps is that they can effectively grow under the stress of weighted stretch. This means simply holding heavy weights in your hand where the traps are in a fully stretched position. This actually tears the muscle fibers in a very effective way, there is no need to move the weight up or down.
Farmer walks: These are very flexible in how they can be performed. They can be measured in time under tension or distance-wise. Any set or rep range will suffice.
Rack pulls: Go as heavy as possible, preferably close to or over your deadlift 1RM. As for sets and rep range. a 3x5 approach is preferable for muscle building but you can easily perform triples on this movement for effective results. 3,4 or 5 sets of 5 reps tends to be my preferred route. Note you can also treat this as a regular bodybuilding exercise and do 3–4 sets of 10 or 12 plus reps. Switch it up!
#2 The Forearms
The forearms again are a muscle group that no one actively targets. People simply think that the passive activation via deadlifts, hammer curls, or other bicep exercises is enough to get them by.
And they’re right, it’s enough for them to look disproportionate to the rest of your arms and downright strange. Skinny forearms plus big biceps and triceps is an odd look, here’s an example. It makes your arms look small.
Now let’s look at an example of people with bigger forearms than their upper arms, it makes their arms look way bigger in general. Arm wrestlers are the best example of this.
The forearm is a very complex muscle, with its posterior and anterior sections being activated in completely different movements. However, if we want to build big forearms, it’s best that we copy the arm wrestlers' routines. From experience, these movements do work very well.
This website includes a wide array of forearm exercises that arm wrestlers specifically do to build their monstrous forearms. It includes exercises like Barbell Finger Curls, Hammer Curl Grip Preacher Lowers, Barbell Wrist Curls, Pronation Forearm Flex, and Sand Grabbing (a technique used by ancient Chinese Shaolin monks).
I try to incorporate at least two of these exercises twice a week. Hitting your forearms twice a week will yield tremendous results. High rep ranges(12–15 plus) within 3–4 sets is the bets option. You can chuck this in at the end of your session and that’s all you need.
#3 The Reardelts
This one is not only for an aesthetic purpose, but also anatomically they serve an important purpose. When you become advanced in training, all the pressing motions you perform overdevelop your front delts.
Therefore, the overpowering of your front delts means your posture is pulled forward, and you become slouched over. That is why on an anatomical basis, developing the rear delts will pull your shoulders back and straighten up your posture. So training these muscles is an effective investment in your future.
The imbalances of your front delts overpowering your rear delts can also cause injuries in the future as this study states that people with poor posture are more likely to suffer from injuries.
On an aesthetic level, this muscle is hugely important. We all want to achieve the look of having boulder shoulders in bodybuilding, they are the foundation to a perfect V taper, and who doesn't want that?
The look of having a 3D shoulder is accomplished by the development of the rear delt. Yes sure, having capped side delts (the part of the shoulder you hit with lateral raises) will make you look broad from the front. But from every other angle people see you, the side delts can only do so much.
The rear delts however give you that 3d look from whatever angle people see you from, this is what yields that true capped look.
The best way to hit your rear delts is with face pulls of any sort, be it with bands or a rope extension. The face pull is a magical exercise for the rotator cuffs and the injury prevention side of things. The form is very important with this exercise, so I suggest you to watch Athlean-X’s video on the form, as he’s very big advocate for face pulls.
As for frequency, the rear delt as a muscle responds better to high volume training, so a rep range between 12–15 or even 15 plus will be effective. And remember, you don't have to just chuck these in a shoulder day, you can (and ideally should) do them as frequently as possible.
Realistically, you can easily fit them into the majority of your gym sessions, so do it! Your shoulder health will thank you.
The rear delts, the forearms, and the traps, are all muscle groups which seem to be forgotten about. People neglect them because they think that they are developed as a side result of hitting the more ‘important muscles’. For example no one trains their forearms because they think that bicep curls or hammer curls sufficiently train them.
If you want to stand out from the rest of the people in the gym, then take it upon yourself to get that ‘enhanced’ look by developing these underdeveloped areas.
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