by 1st Phorm Athlete Jenny Drennan August 08, 2011 4 min read
In my opinion the most important asset when it comes to being a successful competitor or having a physique that people wish to attain is SYMMETRY. Regardless of height or muscle mass, a body with good muscle symmetry is always more appealing than a body without symmetry. This has been proven (yes by science) true in regards to people’s perception of facial ‘beauty’ as well, the more symmetrical the face, the more beautiful they were perceived to be. The same applies to the body. We’ve all noticed the guy who has huge arms but has legs the size of toothpicks. He may love the way he looks because he likes big arms, but to everyone else he just looks silly and disproportionate.
Since I started competing in bikini, I’ve made a lot of changes to my workouts in order to focus more on the muscles that create symmetry and add more shape to my figure. Growing up I was always tall, skinny and very narrow. My body lacked curves, especially in width. Lifting weights helped add shape to my body over the years but after my first couple bikini competitions and gaining an understanding of what the judges were looking for, I knew where I needed to improve. I have come to realize that to be competitive in bikini, symmetry is a necessity.
Some women are genetically gifted with good symmetry and curves in their bone structure and therefore only need to build a little more muscle to obtain a symmetrical and shapely body. While others, such as myself, require a little more muscle in certain places to create symmetry. It’s obviously going to be different for every individual person. While I do have good bone structure I am very narrow. Therefore, my workouts revolve around widening my lats and medial delts, keeping my waist tiny, and shaping my quads so they not only have thickness, but also a visible sweep that will help create the ideal “X” shape.
When it comes to training, I chose to focus on the areas of my body that need improvement first, but I make sure not to neglect every other muscle group. Genetically gifted or not, everyone can benefit from tailoring their workouts towards attaining muscle symmetry. There is always room for improvement. Below I’ve listed some tips for each muscle group that I have personally found help (again you may need a different approach and this is where an experienced coach can really help you in identifying what exactly you need to work on).
Frequency: 2x per week. One day dedicated to width only.
Helpful tips: Lats respond very well to super sets and a focus on concentric part of the movement. For me, pull ups are the quickest way to improve your lats. I make these the focus of my workout and start with wide grip:100 reps in as many sets as needed (If you are unable to do pull ups, use a resistance band. I use the 25lb band and drop to the 50lb band as I near 100)
Frequency:2x per week. Only performing heavy overhead presses on one day, because shoulders are complex joints that can be injured/irritated easily and keeping them healthy is always important.
Helpful tips: Focus mostly on the medial (side) head of the deltoid, since that is what will help with your goals of symmetry, but make sure you don’t neglect your rear and front delts. Shoulders and all muscles in general grow much quicker and stay injury free if you do not neglect any part of it.
Frequency: 2x per week
Helpful tips: Focus on movements that work to wasp your waist and keep it tiny.
Exercises that work the transverse abdominus, known to act as a girdle for
your waist, are key. Twisting exercises also help keep the waist small.
Frequency: 1x per week (When I train legs, they are usually sore for an entire week so hitting them twice a week is rare for me personally)
Helpful tips: To improve the sweep in your quads, a slight change in foot positioning can help you create the gains you’re looking for. Use a narrow stance on any type of squat (free, smith, hack) and on the leg press.
As I mentioned before, what you need to create ideal symmetry is going to be different from most people and getting an experience coach will be of great value to help you in this way. Rarely can any person look in the mirror and be able to see where your exact weak points are…so find a good coach. If you want to be a successful competitor, symmetry is a must so you may as well make it a priority now! You’ll be that far ahead of the game!