Symmetrical Bodybuilding: How to Attain Symmetry as a Bodybuilder

Bodybuilding Symmetry

Build the Symmetrical Legendary Bodybuilding Proportions

Today, more than ever before, bodybuilders are seeking symmetrical, well-defined physiques. In contest after contest I see the man or woman who has the best overall proportions defeating athletes who possess several outstanding body-parts but who lack overall harmony of development. It just goes to show that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

This trend has its roots in the Greek ideal of an Olympic athlete with wide, powerful shoulders, a chiseled waist and perfect diamond-shaped calves. Steve Reeves made this physique an ideal many strive to emulate. Frank Zane and I are his present-day master pupils.

This is a specialization course designed to build muscle and at the same time streamline your physique to the classical ideal. You train your chest, back, arms and legs twice a week, performing eight sets of eight to 12 reps for each exercise and taking a 30 to 45-second rest between sets-never more. Then, to emphasize the elements of symmetry, you train your shoulders, waist and calves three times per week, on the alternate days. For example, you might work shoulders, waist and calves on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and the rest of your body on Tuesday and Thursday. Save the weekends for enjoyable outdoor activities like running, biking and hiking.

Shoulder Training

The shoulders are composed of the following muscle groups: the deltoid, including the anterior, lateral and posterior heads; the trapezius and the pectoralis minor, or upper chest. To create the widest possible shoulder appearance, you must develop a harmony among all these muscle groups; that is, they must be developed in optimum proportion to each other.

If, for example, your traps are overly developed, your shoulders take on a narrow and rounded look; but if you totally lack trapezius development, your neck and head look out of place. Likewise, overly developed lower pecs create the illusion that you have a flat upper body from the side and narrow shoulders from the front, and since most bodybuilders neglect the rear, or posterior, heads of the delts, their upper backs look flat when viewed from the rear. When training your shoulders, your best bet is to emphasize the lateral heads for width, the front and rear heads for side density, the upper chest for balance with the lower chest and the trapezius to create a look of continuous muscularity from the rear heads to the traps.

The symmetry program shoulder workout includes the following exercises:

Seated wide-grip behind-the-neck barbell presses. The routine starts with this basic mass movement.

Dumbbell lateral raises. Drop your knees slightly on these and start with your arms slightly bent and parallel to each other, 10 inches apart, in front of your waist. Raise the dumbbells in two smooth arcs to a point just past your ears and then rotate your wrists to position the little-finger sides of the dumbbells higher than the thumb sides. (It's as if you're pouring water out of two bottles.)

Wide-grip upright rows. This is a great width builder, similar to the traditional upright row except your hands are shoulder width apart and you pull the bar away from your body as you pull it up. Use a false, or thumbless, grip and flex your forearms toward your body at all times.

Bent-over laterals. This is the best exercise for developing the rear head of the deltoid. Use either dumbbells or cables, and perform it in strict style, again raising the little- finger sides of the dumbbells or cable handles as they pass your ears.

Wide-grip chins or lat pull-downs. Either of these movements will stimulate your upper-back muscles and stretch your shoulder blades. The pulldowns can either be to the front or behind the neck.

Waist Training

The next area of specialization is your waist. The best waist reducer is, of course, diet. In addition to the exercises listed here, concentrate on eating approximately 45 percent protein, 45 percent carbohydrate and 10 percent fat.

Obviously, you don't want to overdevelop your waist, since too much muscle in this area will detract from the shoulder-to-waist differential. You also don't want to spend too much time training your oblique muscles, since too much development in this area will create a thick waist. Your primary goal for your abdominals is to tone, not overdevelop, them, and in my experience repetition counts of 20 to 30 work best for this.

Note that it's always very important to exhale as your abdominal muscles contract. That way your waistline flexes at its smallest diameter, almost like hitting an ab shot.

The symmetry program waist routine includes the following exercises:

Crunches. Lie on the floor, place your hands behind your neck and cross your ankles with your knees doubled over your chest. From there crunch up until your elbows and knees touch. Unfold and repeat.

Hanging knee ups. Hang from a chinning bar with your legs fully extended. Slowly bring up your knees in a smooth arc as high as they'll go while keeping your chin on your chest. Your knees should end up six to 12 inches above your waistline.

Incline leg raises. Lie on an ab board or bench set at an incline that provides resistance that will give you 20 reps. Grab onto a stationary object behind your head and keep your legs slightly bent, raising them up until gravity stops working against the movement. Lower your legs until you reach a point three inches from the floor or bench and repeat.

Calf Training

No other muscle has the infamous distinction of being as slow and painful to develop as the calves. There seems to be no rhyme or reason as to who can increase calf size and who can't.

Unfortunately, heredity and bone structure, two factors over which you have no control, are the keys to calf development. No matter who your parents are, however, there are proven ways of increasing your calf size.

The first point is that you should work your calves with a minimum of 20 reps and a maximum of 30. Second, the basic rise-up-on-your-toes calf raise movement should be as different from your ankle stride as possible. The idea is to surprise the calf by exercising it in a much different manner than the heel-to- toe step requires.

I suggest you perform calf raises as a three-part movement instead of the traditional two-part up-and-down motion. Divide the up motion into two separate parts. In the first part you stretch your heel downward to the limit to start, then drive your knees forward and flare your heels out to the halfway- up position. The second part of the up motion is to press your heels up with your knees locked in the forward position and your heels flared out. Continue raising your heels up and out until your bodyweight plus the resistance are balanced on your big toes. The third part involves a slow, smooth lowering of your heels to the maximum-calf-stretch position before you repeat the steps.

Your feet should be approximately 12 inches apart, and at the top of the rep you'll be standing pigeon-toed. Never sit down while working your calves, as this will restrict the blood flow to the target muscle and, consequently, the pump.

The symmetry training calf routine includes the following exercises:

Donkey calf raises. This is the best exercise I know for increasing calf size.

Standing calf raises. The best way to perform this movement is with the calf block positioned 12 inches behind the shoulder contact. I suggest that you use a six-inch calf block on all calf exercises.

Seated calf raises. This exercise develops the outsides of the calves from the ankles to the knees.

A Word About Nutrition

I never prescribe supplements or vitamin doses, because nutrition is a very personal matter. Every bodybuilder should read a good book on megavitamin therapy and experiment with dosages to find out what works best for him or her.

Keep your vitamin thresholds as low as possible. Just because one liver tablet is better than none, it doesn't follow that 150 liver tablets would be that many more times effective. I never take more than 15 liver tablets a day, and I always take the smallest possible dose that is still biochemically efficient. For your information only, here are the supplements I use: vitamins A, B- complex, C and D; calcium; choline; inositol; amino acids; lecithin; germ oils; niacin; chelated minerals; egg white protein and digestive enzymes.

Nutrition is at least 75 percent of bodybuilding, so it stands to reason that you should start studying the subject if you want to make maximum progress.

Without exception every bodybuilder, everywhere in the world, would benefit from having wider shoulders, a smaller, more muscular waist and bigger calves. This program will noticeably improve your symmetry and proportion in six weeks' time. Continue using it for as long as you feel you're getting some benefit from it, but use it no longer than three months.

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