Priority Training is an approach that we all need address at some point in our ‘training lives.’ Infact the more experienced we become with matters in the gym the more this point becomes relevant as we seek to address one of the main criteria’s in bodybuilding/resistance training – Proportions!
It’s true that naturally we all have our ‘genetic gift spots’ and our ‘genetic weak spots,’ some muscles just tend to respond and develop faster than others to stimuli in the gym. This is largely due to the fact that we all have different amounts of muscle receptor sites which again are distributed uniquely around the body from one individual to the next – we are all different.
The problem (which is more profound the longer we leave it) is that we tend to prioritise our strengths and ‘gloss over’ our weakness’s. Have you noticed how we always seem to enjoy the activities/exercises that we’re good at? When was the last time you ‘skipped’ a session on a genetic ‘gift spot?’ Don’t we always seem to push ourselves harder through more sets and reps with a greater intensity when focusing on these muscles?
It’s important to recognise that we inevitably compromise our proportions as a natural consequence to this favouritism shown in the gym. So here’s how to address our weaknesses and bring them up to speed with the rest of our physique!
Essentially Priority Training works by prioritising our weaknesses by addressing them first in priority while we are fresher and more concentrated. We can adopt this approach in 2 ways:
1) Look to create perfect balance within a set muscle group.
2) Look to create perfect balance between all muscle groups.
Addressing the first point can be a little tricky, we need to analyse each muscle group on its own merits, please see below for a few common examples of how to identify and address flaws within the proportions of our major muscle groups:
Chest – Squeeze your chest in, look to the side in a mirror – is the upper chest lagging a little? If so prioritise incline movements within your chest routine.
Back – Do a ‘Front Lat Spread’ in front of a mirror – Is you back lacking width, or depth? If width prioritise ‘pull down’ movements for depth/thickness focus on ‘pull in’ type movements and dead-lifts.
Shoulders – Stand to the side of mirror, the top of the shoulder should be perfectly horizontal. Be honest, are your rear and side deltoids in the shadow of your front deltoids? Simply train them in order of weakness.
Legs – Again stand to the side of the mirror and flex your legs from several angles, what’s lagging? Are you ‘quad heavy’ with not the best calves in the world? Perhaps your hamstrings are somewhere in-between? Then simply train calves first, followed by hamstrings and finish off on quads.
Arms and Abs are pretty much self explanatory – seek to address the weaker, less developed muscle first. This may mean you train triceps before biceps and conduct leg raises before crunches –either/or you’re ironing out discrepancies within your muscles.
Addressing the second point is somewhat easier, you just need to be open minded and prepared to juggle your schedule a little. Again the answer is very simple, seek to address your weaker muscle groups using the above approach when you’re at your freshest!
Say you train Mon, Tues, Thurs, Fri and take the weekend off. You are at your freshest on Monday (after 2 days rest) and Thursday (after 1 day rest). After a bit of ‘self-critical analysis’ you may conclude that your legs really are your number 1 priority and that your back has fallen behind the rest of your upper body development too – the rest you can live with for now and your more than happy with your chest! (Isn’t it funny how we always seem to train chest on a Monday).
Simply Train Legs on the Monday and Back on the Thursday – the rest you can factor in according to your needs/requirements being prepared to change again when needs be.
Obviously this principle does not apply to every muscle group of every person, but after years of training, significant divides in development can occur; use Priority Training to counter this and you’ll certainly be on your way to creating ‘The Look’ that all aspiring trainers crave for! Remember this – we can all benefit from some form of Priority Training!