You have probably heard before that its basic knowledge that you cannot change the shape of a muscle, right? And normally this is the sort of information that I would agree with, however, I personally believe that this question is not as straight forward as it first appears, to answer this question I would have to say yes and no, I know I know! but before you go crazy just hear me out.
so the shape of your muscle generally comes down to your genetics, the muscle insertions on the body and the muscle belly itself. Some people are born with really wide clavicles and a small waist, some people have short arms but really full round biceps, some people have long arms and short biceps insertions, but a big peak on the bicep ect. so this you cannot change and will all come down to your genetics.
When it comes to the ‘shape’ of your muscles, its on the understanding that all you can do is grow the muscle, but you cannot change its shape, well I kind of disagree with that to a certain extent, there really are things you can control which will change the shape of the muscle! (sort of) and things to take in to consideration, these are;
- is the muscle FULLY developed?
- is there more than 1 head to the muscle?
so lets break this down;
Is the muscle fully developed?
The brain sends a signal to the muscle fibres which causes them to contract and lift the weight, this causes tears in the muscle fibres, which heal over time and cause the muscle to grow. A muscle fibre cannot partially contract, it either fully contracts or not at all. However, the muscle itself can partially contract, by having some muscle fibres contract and some not (bear with me here). so if you are not completing a repetition with the full range of motion some muscle fibres are not contracting and therefore not growing, this will cause those parts of the muscle to remain slightly undeveloped and thus will effect the overall shape of the muscle. lets take the chest for example, to fully contract the chest you have to bring your arm all the way in and across the body, which you are unable to do on a barbell bench press, so therefore the muscle fibres on the inner portion of your chest are not contracting, which will cause your inner chest to remain undeveloped.
Is there more than 1 head to the muscle?
Some muscle have multiple heads which each have a slightly different function. for example the bicep has 2 heads whilst the triceps has 3 heads. each individual head can be targeted (the head will not work completely in isolation, the entire muscle will still be contracting, but different movements and angles will shift more of the focus on to different heads). so having under developed heads of a muscle will again affect the overall shape of that muscle. lets take the chest again for example, the chest has an upper chest and a lower chest (the pec minor and pec major), both of which can be targeted more than the other with different variations of the bench press (flat bench for lower chest and incline bench for upper chest).
So hopefully now you understand what I mean when I say that this is really a grey area.
So what exercise is best for fully developing muscles? None, its very important to perform a wide range and balanced routine for the whole body to ensure proper growth and development. providing you perform your basic compound lifts first as these are your bread and butter and will stimulate the most growth, then target muscles with isolation movements afterwards, mixing it up from time to time with different exercises and different angles.
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