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Put The Finishing Touches On Your Physique

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As a bodybuilder we must work like the craftsman. We must labor over each and every nuance of our physiques to etch in those final touches that in our own minds eye spell perfection.


IFBB Professional Francis Benfatto

Whenever an artist or craftsman reaches the final stages of a project, whether it be a painting, a piece of sculpture, or fine furniture, he frequently takes time to step back and examine his work. Why does he stop? What is he looking for? With each individual artist it could be something different. Yet each artist or craftsman would be instinctively searching his work for any tiny flaw or unfinished portion that might detract or mar the overall quality of that piece. Alter a thorough examination, he then makes certain critical adjustments that complete the work he has painstakingly labored over for so long.

It's these last steps that place the finishing touches on the work and give it a distinctive look of quality and fine craftsmanship that are the hallmark of great art in any field. The bodybuilder should strive to be no less an artist and craftsman in his own right. He should take the time to search out his weak spots and then go all out putting the finishing touches on his own bodybuilding masterpiece. This is especially true if you plan to enter any contests in the near future. You must become fully aware of your weak points and work to bring them up to par with the rest of your physique.

What unfinished areas need your attention most? Have you looked lately? Certainly the back is a prime area to begin your physique evaluation. Few of us have ready access to one of those special mirrors, usually found in department store clothing sections, that allow us to view all sides of our physique at the same time. Usually we stand and face a bathroom mirror and catch only the chest and arms. Thus the back remains a neglected portion that we can never observe as clearly as we should. But believe me, others see it and will notice immediately any weak tie-ins or under developed areas that show up.

To begin looking for those often neglected bodybuilding areas, lets start with the rear or posterior deltoid. Fully developed rear delts can add width as well as enhance the upper backs muscularity tremendously. All forms of bent over lateral raises performed with dumbbells, chest cables, or wall pulleys should be employed along with the rear delt machine. High reps (around 12-15) and moderate poundage seem to work best.

Rear Delts

Along with the rear delt the lateral or side deltoid seldom gets enough stimulation from pressing exercises. Full development of these muscles can create a wider look to your upper body. Standing or seated lateral raises with dumbbells or cable pulleys can pack on the size if presses fail to add the needed width. Again keep the reps high (10-12) and strive to feel the movement rather than just hoist a heavy weight.

Moving down the back, check the lower latissimus dorsi line. Most bodybuilders men find little trouble bringing out their high and middle lat area with chins and lat pulldowns, but the lower lats seem to be a particularly difficult part to reach. One arm dumbbell rows, underhand barbell rows, and T-bar or barbell end rows seem to affect this area best. Alternate heavy poundage and medium reps (5-8) with moderate poundage and high reps (10-12) from workout to workout.

Finally, the lower back or erector spinae muscles sometimes require extensive work to bring them fully into line with the upper portions of the back. They can benefit from prone hyperextensions, still-leg deadlifts, and good morning bendovers in beefing up this usually neglected area.

The lower abdominals can also be a trouble spot and get short shift with the upper abs receiving the lion's share of exercise from a routine of sit-ups and crunches. A schedule of hanging leg raises, double-ups, frog kicks, knee-Ins, leg thrusts, and conventional leg raises should etch in those lower abs in a few months. Keep the reps between (15-25) and concentrate on feeling the movement. However, no amount of specialized ab work will remove the spare tire that is covering up the rectus abdominal area. A strict diet and a fast-paced cardiovascular workout can be a big benefit.


The leg biceps, when fully developed, gives a dramatic sweep to the entire thigh. Nothing ruins a great leg pose like a flat, shapeless rear leg. Lying leg curls, standing leg curls, and light, stiff-leg deadlifts can swiftly add the shape you need to that leg biceps. Per-form high reps (12-15) with as much weight as you can handle in good form for about 4-0 sets. Do some stretching in between each set.

Calves are a sore spot for many bodybuilders, but they dare not neglect them If they hope to place high in a physique contest. So give them your utmost attention even if you have high calves, flat calves, or no calves. For variety traditional calf raises can be performed with barbells, dumbbells, standing calf machines, seated calf machine., toe presses on the leg press machine, and donkey raises. Work for a full stretch on the way down (for this you will need something higher than the usual 2x4" block most people use) and perform each rep slowly, not bouncing up and down like so many do. High reps (15-25) should put some size on those stubborn calf muscles. Use all the weight possible when you work your calves and then perform high rep calf stretches (100-300 reps) without weight on your off days. These will keep the calf muscles pumped and ready for the next heavy training session. But you have to stick with it, endure the pain, and sweat blood! The results will be worth it.

Incline Curl

Forearms: A great pair of upper arms can be enhanced immeasurably by a fully rounded set of forearms. Keep your lower arms in line with your biceps-triceps development. Hit those wrist curls with a vengeance, reverse preacher curls, wrist roller twists, hammer curls, zottman curls, and any hand grip exercise you can. Again, due to the stubborn nature of these muscles, use high reps to force the blood into the area (12-15 reps). A couple of tips here:

  1. Try doing a heavy set of wrist curls with a barbell (15 reps) followed immediately by a second set of lighter wrist curls (15 reps). That'll really blow up those stubborn forearms.
  2. Try doing your reverse curls with an EZ curl bar and use a preacher bench to further isolate the movement. The cambered bar allows a more direct feel to the muscle and your lower arms will "know" the difference soon enough!

Finally the neck should not be forgotten as you examine your weak points. Rather than the bull-necked, overdeveloped look some football players and wrestlers possess, the neck should be thick but not to this extreme. Instead attempt to balance your neck development proportionately with your calf and upper arm size.

The old rule of equal measurements for neck, calf and biceps isn't that outdated. Though some of our present superstars claim incredible sizes in the magazines, in my opinion they would look a lot better if they kept their true proportions in mind when training.

Neck work can include the wrestler's bridge both front and back, as well as conventional neck harness movements, Nautilus neck machine (if you are blessed to have one in your gym), and shrugs with barbells or dumbbells. You should give the neck equal amounts of work both side to side as well as front to back. A few minutes at the end of your workouts is all that is necessary unless you have an extremely long, thin neck in which case a routine consisting of several exercises can be used to bring your neck into better proportion.

If you are like most people I see in the gym, you'll probably train your favorite body parts first and ignore the hard to see places until just before a contest. This I. definitely wrong. Instead use your time to work out a schedule of exercises that will bring your weak areas up to par with the rest of your physique.

Begin now to think of your musculature as a piece of fine sculpture and yourself as the artist placing the finishing touches on a bodybuilding living masterpiece.

Tags: Bodybuilding Life Calves Abdominals

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