We all have stubborn muscle groups.
Those annoying, insubordinate, pull-your-hair-out muscles that seem to withstand every matter of force and will you can throw at it...They just bob and weave and hold their ground like a palm tree in a hurricane.
Some of these deficiencies are genetic.
For example, my calves are the bane of my existence...When I first started lifting, I grew like a weed. I practically grew just looking at weights back then. And to be honest, I thought my genetics were damn near infallible! But then, I started to hear the whispers...Anyone who has stepped foot in a high school knows what I'm talking about; it wasn't my classmates secretively talking about how jacked and ripped I was. No, they were noticing what I soon came to find out was my genetic Achilles heel (or shin?): my shitty calves.
No matter what I did, they just wouldn't respond! I could go heavy or light; slow tempo or explosive; high volume then to low volume; intensity techniques, high frequency, blood-flow restriction, and at one point even considered implants (in my defense, these plastic surgeons are basically wizards nowadays)...
My struggle with growing my calves hasn't been due to lack of education or insufficient intensity and it sure as hell wasn't apathy...Honestly, my DNA just didn't want me to have Pakulski calves. It sucks but those were the cards I was dealt. And no doubt, you also have a muscle that you got the short end of the genetic stick on.
But not all underdeveloped muscle groups can be blamed on your mom and dad—Most of the time, you're probably just fucking something up, somehow, somewhere along the way.
And that fuck up can come in a million different ways (isn't bodybuilding so fun?!) which can make it really hard to nail down the culprit when trying to seriously analyze what is going wrong.
Is it your diet? Are you eating enough calories? Enough protein?
Are you recovering from your training? Are you training hard enough? With enough volume? With too much volume? How about your frequency? Twice a week? Three times? FOUR?!
And what about your exercise selection? Are you choosing the right movements for the job? Are they the right movements for YOU? And even if so, are you executing them correctly in order to get the most out of them?
That last bit is what we're really concerned about here...Have you mastered the nuances and subtleties of each variation, modality, angle and pattern so that you can actually stimulate your lagging muscles?
If this sounds complicated, it's because it is—And most people are going to be severely missing the mark here. What can easily be excused away as poor genetics is more often just an inability to properly setup and execute movements atop an unstable foundation of anatomical and biomechanical knowledge.
But not all is lost! Don't wave the white flag just yet!
Of all the problems to have, this is the easiest and quickest to rectify...I mean, all you need to do is fix your shitty form and watch the magic happen!
Let's use the Rear Delts as a clear-cut case study...
I would venture to guess that most of us have been training our rear delts wrong for the majority of our lifting history. And that's no fault of your own—the rear delt is a tricky little muscle that doesn't really fit into the mold of what we're comfortable with when it comes to isolated delt training.
We're used to front raises to train our anterior delts and side raises to train our lateral delts so it should be expected that we could just mimic that same thought process with our posterior delts. But unfortunately, our anatomy wasn't so kind to us. The traditional idea of rear delt training involves nearly perfect transverse shoulder abduction with our upper arm moving in a line that is neutral with respect to shoulder extension/flexion. But the fibers of the rear delt are actually NOT optimized for that movement pattern. Instead, the more appropriate path would be for the arms to move in more of a "reverse Y" formation with more shoulder extension and less absolute transverse abduction.
But what does this look like in practice?
Our beloved Bent Over Rear Delt DB Flyes morph into a Bent Over Rear Delt DB Y Raise.
Facepulls become much less about pulling to your face and much more about pulling to your chest...So Chestpulls then???
Even more universal movements like Bent Over Barbell Rows, Tbar Rows and Seated Low Cable Rows can all be adjusted to be rear delt biased with nothing more than a subtle shift in upper arm positioning.
So your lagging muscle might not be as easily written-off as you may have been led to believe...
Execution cannot be overstated. Align it, perfect it, and own it—Every detail matters.