How To Make A Stubborn Body Part Grow
Answer me this question… Do you ever look at your physique and scratch your head about why that stubborn body part won’t grow?
And guys… Let’s be clear. I’m not talking about THAT stubborn body part.
We’re talking the body parts you’re training in the gym.
And if any of you guys out there are training that body part, then please send me the details of where you train, so I know to avoid it like the plague.
Anyway, I digress…
Stubborn body parts can be frustrating.
Especially when the rest of your physique is looking awesome.
What's the answer? Read on to find out...
Your quads, hamstrings, and glutes might be looking amazing… But your whole lower body is let down by those sparrow-like calves.
It’s borderline embarrassing.
How the hell do you expect to strut down the beachfront on holiday with pins like that?
The shorts are staying well and truly tucked away at the back of the wardrobe until those damn things start to grow.
And ladies… I can’t imagine you’re after a whopping set of calves. Am I right?
It’s not really top of the list when I speak to new female clients…
“Simon… Can you help me grow a a set of calves that look like oversized gonads in a very large ball sack.”
So far, that’s not been something I’ve seen on a client questionnaire. But you never know.
There’s a first time for everything as they say.
My guess is you want shapely glutes, defined shoulders, and tight triceps… Am I close?
The modus operandi at the moment is to have a butt that’s fit to burst through your leggings, shoulders nicely rounded like small cannonballs, and triceps with a bit of definition to keep the threat of bingo wings at bay…
But something's wrong...
So you hit the gym. Train your ass off. But still something isn’t quite right.
You can’t figure it out…
You followed the dude or dudette on Insta who has the perfect body you’re trying to copy.
And you did what they did, ate what they ate, but how come they got results and you didn’t?
Why are you left with a stubborn body part that simply won’t grow?
Well my friend, it’s a good job I’m here. Because I’m going to share with you my 9 step checklist to make your stubborn body part grow.
I would have loved to make it 10, because that’s a nice round number. But I kinda ran out of ideas.
I could’ve thrown up some BS 10th one, but hey 9 sounds kinda quirky. And you never know… I might dream up a 10th by the end of this episode.
So let’s get started because we have a lot to get through. And even though you love the sound of my voice, you’d prefer to skip straight to the answers, right?
Of course you do. I know how your brain works.
Is it REALLY a stubborn body part?...
But… Before we get started, let’s look at the term ‘stubborn body part’ in a bit more detail.
Now, I’ve coached quite a few people in my time.
And. I’ve come across a few people who claim they have stubborn body parts. And do you know what they all put it down to?
Almost all of them said,
“It’s my genetics man… They just won’t grow.”
Hmmmmmmm. Genetics you say…
Well, I can tell you after studying how they train, “It’s my genetics…” seems to stand for, “I don’t train properly…”
Harsh but fair…
Now yes. There are always some exceptions to the rule. But if you’ve got a stubborn body part, my guess is you’re NOT genetically inferior. It’s just there’s something not quite right about your training.
And that’s what we’re going to cover…
My 9 step checklist is an inventory of things you need to consider, change, adapt, and optimise to finally make those stubborn body parts grow.
Do all 9 and I’ll pretty much guarantee you start seeing some grow.
If not, come visit me in the gym and we’ll make it happen.
How To Make A Stubborn Body Part Grow: #1 De-prioritise
Ok. So on with Number 1 on the list… Prioritisation And De-prioritisation.
This starts before you even set foot in the gym.
And it’s first on the list because I see it as the most common cause for a stubborn body part.
Quite simply, you’re not prioritising the lagging body part and de-prioritising stronger body parts.
Guys. I bet you’re not concerned about chest development right now.
Why? Because you train it all the fucking time. And you never skip chest day. You always get your bench presses in.
And ladies, you’re just as bad… Do you have the glutes of a Goddess already, but lack the shoulder development you want?
Could that be something to do with the 3 glute focused days you do per week and only 1 set of shoulders?
You see, it’s easy to prioritise. But sometimes it’s the wrong approach.
Because you end up just saying EVERYTHING’S a priority.
“I want more arms, more shoulders, more quads, more hamstrings, more glutes, more calves, more EVERYTHING…”
But then what happens?
You try to do it all and end up with a 3 hour long workout you can’t sustain, which forces you to ditch the stuff at the end of the workout.
And low and behold they’re the exercises that would have worked your stubborn body part.
So learn to flip things around
De-prioritise… Ask yourself which body parts are your strongest and force yourself to do less volume.
It doesn’t have to be like that forever.
And you’re certainly not going to lose your gains.
But it is going to give you the time to focus your time and effort where it needs to be.
So lesson number one… Have the guts to de-prioritise… Oh. And if that means doing calves at the start of your workout so you don’t skip them, then do it!
How To Make A Stubborn Body Part Grow: #2 Train frequently
Next up we have training frequency and overall volume.
You might be including your stubborn body part in your weekly routine, but is it there frequently enough?
Or is it more like a few sets thrown in at the end of your session half-heartedly once a week?
It comes to that part of the workout and you’re pretty knackered, so you just go through the motions.
Maybe you don’t even like training that body part.
Do you hate training quads, so you avoid it like the plague?
Does the thought of training shoulders make you want to pull your phone out and take endless selfies instead?
The school analogy
Let me give you an analogy…
Think back to your school days…
What was the one subject you really hated? Mine was Maths… I couldn’t stand it… Makes it even more amazing that I picked it for A-Level, but that’s another story.
I’ll assume for now you were shit at maths too.
But you know you NEED to be better at it.
So if you were weak at maths and knew you needed to improve, logic would say you studied harder, and maybe even got a tutor, right?
But was it more like you shied away from it, did the bare minimum, and just tried to get by?
It’s the latter, right?
So is it any real surprise you and I didn’t improve at our worst subjects? No. Not really.
And if the same approach is prevalent in your training, expect the same outcome.
If you have a stubborn body part, you’re going to need to train it. And you’re going to need to train it often AND with enthusiasm.
“But how much should I train it then?”
As usual, it depends. But I’d say a minimum of 9 sets of direct volume per week. And then increase that over time, making sure you can recover from it…
How To Make A Stubborn Body Part Grow: #3 Effort
This brings me neatly on to point number three. And that’s effort!
Without effort everything else is pretty meaningless. If you’re not giving your all to these exercises then don’t expect miracles.
We’re not in the world of magic beans.
This is real life and the gym is one place where you can slide by on bull shit.
If you’re not training hard enough it’ll show in your results. Or should I say, lack of results?
So whether it’s the right gym playlist, flipping your cap backwards like Stallone in Over The Top, or slapping yourself in the face… Do what you need to do so you’re in the right mindset to give 100%.
Because if you go into training with a negative mindset, then you’ve already lost my friend.
Get your head out of your ass and back in the game.
Otherwise, don’t expect those stubborn body parts to grow on willpower alone…
How To Make A Stubborn Body Part Grow: #4 Activations
Now that last point started to get a little gym bro-esque.
But thankfully I stopped short of telling you to grease up with baby oil and tweak your training partner’s nipples before each set.
That WOULD be a bit weird… Especially for the ladies… Not exactly good gym etiquette…
So with bro advice behind us, we turn our attention to Activations…
“What the fuck is an activation Simon.”
Great question. I’m pleased you asked…
Think of activations like warm ups. But instead of getting sweaty on a treadmill for 10 minutes, you’re actually doing something useful.
An activation prepares the target muscle for an exercise.
Think about it… How many people can drive to the gym, park the car, walk through the door, immediately get under the bar, and squat a PB…
Zero people is the answer.
Why? Quite simply because we need to get the muscles ready to fire and be worked under load.
They need to be activated.
You need to be able to feel the target muscle working throughout each rep. Otherwise it all becomes pretty pointless.
So activations are key.
Let's talk calves
Here’s an example of an activation for calves… A stubborn body part for a lot of guys, so it makes sense to pick on this one.
Sit on a bench, with your toes resting on the edge of a 20kg plate. Make sure it’s a bumper plate or this won’t work.
With your toes on the plate, your heels should now be off the ground.
From here, slowly lower your heels towards the ground, but don’t let them touch.
As you lower your heels, press your toes hard into the plate.
You should be feeling your calves activating now…
At the bottom of the movement, pause, then imagine driving your ankles forward into the wall in front of you.
This should activate the calves even more.
Repeat these for a few reps until your feel the calves cramping a little.
This little activation process has now got those little stubborn calves revved up and ready to work.
When you come to actually performing your calf raises under load, you should feel them a hell of a lot more.
And if you’re feeling them more, they’re growing more.
You can, and should, do activations for almost every body part. Clearly I’m not going to talk you through every single one. Because that would be sooooooooo boring.
But that’s why they invented Google, right.
Go forth and get those body parts activated.
How To Make A Stubborn Body Part Grow: #5 Exercise selection
Next on the list is exercise selection.
Are you picking the right exercises to get the most growth out of each body part? Particularly those stubborn ones…
Chances are probably not…
So let’s give you a whistle stop tour of resistance profiles and strength curves.
Don’t worry… It sounds more complicated than it is.
For illustrative purposes, we’re going to talk squats…
The resistance profile relates to the exercise itself. More specifically where within the motion is the exercise at its easiest and where is it at its most challenging?
Now for the squat, it’s easiest when you’re stood upright and most challenging when your butt is nearest the floor, right?
So when you squat, the weight you select is one you feel you can lift when you’re at the most difficult stage of the exercise.
With me so far? Good.
The strength curve relates to you. Where within the squat movement are your muscles at their strongest?
Well, you’re strongest at the top of the movement when stood up.
And you get progressively weaker as you go down into the rep.
Then, as you stand up, you get progressively stronger, right? Awesome.
But here’s the thing… Because you’ve selected a weight you can lift when the exercise is at its hardest and you’re at your weakest, the movement actually gets easier as you stand up.
Because the resistance profile and strength curve are mis-matched.
What does this mean in reality?
Well it means you’re essentially getting a rest part way through the rep. Which is the opposite of what you want.
You want your muscles to be challenged throughout the entire rep.
So how do we achieve that?
Well, in the case of a squat you can use resistance bands or chains to change the dynamics of the exercise.
Let’s take resistance bands as an example.
If you hang resistance bands from the top of the squat rack, around the ends of the bar, as you squat down those bands will get tighter and effectively take weight off the bar.
This makes the exercise easier at the bottom.
However when you stand, the bands slack and that weight comes back on the bar, coinciding with when you get stronger.
Hey presto. Now the resistance profile and strength curve are matched, giving your precious quads and glutes the right level of challenge throughout the entire rep.
Now, I’m not saying you need to use resistance bands for every exercise and turn your workout into an episode of MacGyver.
No. But once you understand more about exercise mechanics, you can start to manipulate exercises or incorporate complimentary exercises so your training is truly effective.
And guess what? Even the most stubborn body parts will grow if training is genuinely effective.
How To Make A Stubborn Body Part Grow: #6 Execution
We’re only just over half way and I but you’re already pumped to put all this into practice and kiss goodbye to those lagging body parts.
But hold your horses… We’ve still got 4 more golden nuggets to unearth. So let’s get digging…
Up next is Execution… Or form… Whichever word you prefer is fine by mean.
Often the cause of a stubborn body part is simply not executing the related exercises effectively.
If you’re not targeting the muscles as you should within a given exercise then things start to crumble pretty quick.
Over the years I’ve seen countless people with so-called stubborn body parts who simply aren’t executing the exercise as it should be.
Form is all out of whack.
They can’t feel it in the target muscle… Often actually feeling it somewhere else…
Repeat that for a few months and frustration builds massively.
So focusing on form is super important.
I saw a quote from Joe Bennett, The Hypertrophy Coach, that said you should aim for execution PBs as much as weight PBs (or words to that effect). I think I butchered the more poetic version of what he said. But you get the drift.
Too often, people get caught up with external goals and forget internal goals.
An external goal being how much weight you can lift.
Whereas an internal goal being how much tension you can create within the muscle.
And trust me, that internal focus is going to do way more for forcing that stubborn body part to grow.
You see, your muscles don’t know what weight you’ve loaded on the bar for your next set of bench presses,
All it responds too is the tension created. Literally how hard the muscle is pulling on the bone.
So if I can create more tension in my pec with 80kg than you can with 120kg, simply through execution, one of us is going to grow quicker than the other…
And in that scenario… It won’t be you!
Again, I’m not going to be able to go through cues for every exercise here, because that would take forever. Plus I’m not sure you’d pay attention.
So let’s just look at one…
The good ol’ bench press.
How to build a better bench press
Here are some of the best cues for executing a better bench press.
First off you need to be able to retract your scapula… HARD.
“What the fuck is a scapula, Simon?” For scapula, think shoulder blades.
You want to be able to pin your shoulder blades back as hard as possible. This provides stability.
As Ben Pakulski says, "you can’t fire a cannon from a canoe."
You need a stable base.
And that stable base needs to be locked in stone for the entire set.
Next we have arm path.
The muscle fibres in your pec run in different directions. Most run horizontally and down. These being the mid and lower pec fibres. Others run upwards. Those being your upper pec fibres.
A flat bench press is going to bias your mid and lower pec fibres, so your upper arm should align with those as much as possible.
If you’re trying to work these fibres, but have your elbows close to your body, your upper arm will be misaligned.
And it doesn’t take Rain Man to figure out a misalignment ain’t good.
After that, you want to think about the function of the pec itself. What is it actually supposed to do?
Well, those pec fibres I just mentioned all attach at two points on your upper arm.
Essentially, the job of the pec is to pull the upper arm across the front of your chest.
And this is important when benching because you don’t want to think about pushing the weight up. You want to think about driving your biceps across your chest…
Remember it’s internal focus, not external.
Internal is thinking about what the muscle and the exercise are doing. External is simply shifting the bar through space. See the difference?
There are a bunch of other cues for Bench press, but they’re just a few. Even just implementing those will give you some crazy gains if you chest is lacking that superhero body armour look.
How To Make A Stubborn Body Part Grow: #7 Load
Ok, so we’re in the home stretch now, just a couple more badass tips of the stubborn body part check list to go…
Next up we’ve got LOAD. No not the underwhelming Metallica album from the mid-90’s. I’m talking about the weight you’re actually lifting.
Whilst there’s not point whacking on a ton of weight to the bar if you’re going to lift it with poor execution, you are still going to want to focus on weight at some point.
If all you ever did was focus on execution, you’d be missing out on some gains.
Perfect form with the 2.5kg pink dumbbells isn’t as effective as 9 to of 10 form with 80kg… If you know what I mean.
So once you’ve got form to a place where you’re safe and feeling it in the target muscle, it’s time to crank up the weight.
Yes. You can build muscle at many different rep ranges, but many people simply don’t push as much weight as they’re capable of within their chosen rep range.
You maybe grunting and pulling all the right faces, but truth be told you could push harder.
Be honest. I’m right…
So lock that form in place and start shifting some weight. Force those stubborn body parts to grow!
How To Make A Stubborn Body Part Grow: #8 Nutrition
Training merely provides the opportunity for your muscles to grow.
Without protein, that just won’t happen.
So you can see, getting enough protein in your diet at the right time is hugely important.
If you’re really looking to take your nutrition to a more advanced level for building muscle, then protein frequency is the place for you to start.
You need to be creating the most optimal environment for muscle protein synthesis (ie the building of new muscle) to occur.
And the best way to do that is by having 4-6 servings of protein per day. Animal protein sources would be best because of their naturally high leucine content. But vegetarians and vegans out there can still build muscle. You just need to think about what you’re eating a little more.
After that you want to make sure your total protein intake is on point and you’re consuming enough overall calories. A mild calorie surplus is going to be best here. It’ll minimise protein breakdown AND give you more energy to fuel those training sessions.
For more info on nutrition for building muscle, check podcast 90, where I shared my 5 Top Nutrition Tips For Advanced Muscle Building. It’ll give you all you need to know.
How To Make A Stubborn Body Part Grow: #9 The most important step...
And so we come to the last point on our checklist and arguably the most important.
If you’ve tried everything on the checklist and still you’ve got a stubborn body part then you need to visit my website because I’ve got something for you…
On my website you’ll find a link to a pill you can take that will reverse the ageing process, like Benjamin Button.
You’ll end up right back as sperm inside your father’s ball sack.
Then you pray for a better result from the gene pool lottery because I’m all out of ideas…
Obviously, I’m joking. But gif you do make the excellent decision of visiting my website then you’ll find a bunch of online coaching options.
Pick one and I’ll guide you through your training and nutrition so your stubborn body part can truly be a think of the past.
No more sparrow’s calves. No more flat booty and ski slop shoulders.
Just an awesome training programme and targeted nutrition to help you burn fat, build muscle, and be 100% confident with your physique.
Pretty awesome, right?
Well what are you waiting for? Go check it out…
How To Make A Stubborn Body Part Grow: The Bottom Line
And that brings another fun and fact filled episode of the podcast to a close. Thanks so much for listening…
Here’s a quick recap of the 9 step checklist to make your stubborn body part grow
2. Train frequently
3. Give 100% effort
4. Do your activations first
5. Pick the right exercises
6. Execute the exercises correctly
7. Lift heavy
8. Get your nutrition right
9. Get me to pull it all together for you
And that’s your complete 9 step checklist to make your stubborn body part grow.
If you enjoyed this episode of the podcast let me know my rating and reviewing it on iTunes. If you’re on another platform do what you’ve gotta do to show me some love.
While you’re at it come and find me on Instagram. Just go to @iron_paradise_fitness
But for now all that’s left for me to say is keep living the Lean Life and I’ll see you for the next episode of the show.
I’m off to go grease up ready for some nipple tweaking…