How To Develop A Lagging Muscle Group

Do You Have A Lagging Muscle Group?

I’m sure we all have a specific area of our body that we want to improve. This can range from a bigger chest, a wider back or some bulging biceps! There could be several reasons for a certain muscle not matching up to others. One of the most common reasons being, training the more popular muscle groups. Or as I like the call them, the mirror muscles. Areas such as the chest, front deltoids and biceps are visible in the mirror without having to turn around or move to the side. People see these muscles and are therefore drawn to work them more! Leading to areas such as the back and hamstrings being slightly neglected.


Another reason for a muscle being a ‘lagging muscle’ could be your genetics. We are all born differently and we all have different rates at which we can build and develop muscle. That’s just life. Some people have a wider back, a thicker chest or bigger calf’s because their genetic potential is greater than yours! So, how do we bring up a muscle group that we feel is under developed compared to other areas of our bodies?

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Train The Muscle Group More Frequently


Just because there are seven days in the week does not mean you must wait until the week after to hit that muscle group again. For example, let’s say your lagging area and a muscle you want to develop is a wider back. Firstly, give back a separate day to itself, so you can really focus and put all your attention on it.


Secondly, add in a width building exercise at the end of your other training days, such as wide grip pulldowns or wide grip pull-ups. Leaving at least 2 days between for optimal recovery. An example training split could look like this…


Monday – Back

Tuesday – Shoulders

Wednesday – Legs (+ 1 back exercise)

Thursday – Rest

Friday – Biceps and Triceps

Saturday – Chest (+ 1 back exercise)

Sunday – Rest

Train Your Lagging Muscle Group First


If your current training split involves hitting your weakest muscle with another muscle group, then ensure you train your weakest first in the workout! Otherwise, if you train the other area before, you are tiring yourself out and depleting your body. Therefore, by the time you come to train your lagging muscle you can’t give it 100% and it could be a half-hearted effort! Hit that area first whilst you have the most energy!

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Hit A Variety Of Angles


Here are a few examples. Your triceps. Use a variety of underhand, overhand, press’s and extensions to ensure your targeting every head of the triceps!


Different foot placements could apply to calf training. Use a mixture of toes facing forward, toes facing inwards and toes facing outwards just to hit the muscle in numerous ways!


Bicep training. Neutral, wide, narrow and hammer grip. All different hand placements and all putting a different force and focus on certain areas of the bicep. A wide grip (hands wider than shoulder width) will add more tension to your biceps short head (inside). A narrow grip (hands closer than shoulder width) will place more tension onto your biceps long head (outside).

Hit The Muscle With Different Rep Ranges


Don’t get caught up in using the same rep range month after month. Of course, you can keep the same rep range for several weeks so you’re able to track your progress. However, your body is clever, it can quickly adapt to what you’re doing. If you train your lagging muscle group on a Friday with a rep range of 10-12 for 6 months straight, your body will adapt and get to know this. Change things up every 6-8 weeks depending on how long your current training plan is. Rep range examples could be 6-8, 8-12, 12-15, or 20+.


Incorporate different techniques such as supersets (exercises back to back), triple sets (three exercises as a circuit), giant sets (four or more exercise as a circuit), pyramid reps (15, 12, 10, 8, 10, 12, 15) and dead sets (after your last working set, drop the weight and go again until absolute failure). These ideas now and then will soon shock your body into more growth!


Our articles should be used for informational and educational purposes only and are not intended to be taken as medical advice. If you’re concerned, consult a health professional before taking dietary supplements or introducing any major changes to your diet.

Faye Reid

Faye Reid

Writer and expert

Faye Reid has a Bachelor of Science in Sport and Exercise Physiology and a Master of Science in Exercise Physiology and Sports Nutrition. Faye has worked with numerous high-profile organisations, such as Men's Health, Sky Sports, Huddersfield Giants, Warrington Wolves, British Dressage and GB Rowing, providing her expert sports science support. Find out more about Faye's experience here: She puts her passion into practice as goal attack for her netball team, and in competitive event riding.

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