A question that often comes up from people who try to build muscle mass is, “Should I be focusing on big muscle groups or small muscle groups?”
Well, when you put big vs small muscles into a showdown, you get a simple answer that most people tend to not know which costs them results.
This costly mistake could be holding you back too.
Big muscles consists of your pectoralis major, gluteus maximus, latissimus dosi, trapezius, hamstrings, and quadriceps. If these muscle names are foreign to you then in more simpler terms, the big muscles in your body are in your upper back, chest, upper legs, and pelvic region.
A majority of your muscle growth occurs in your big muscles due to the increased size of your muscles. There are more fibers to tear and be repaired which starts the process of muscle growth.
Small muscles consist of your gluteus medius, gluteus minimus, triceps, biceps, brachioradialis, and deltoids.
These smaller muscles are predominately located in your arms, lower legs, shoulders, and lower back.
Small muscles have limitations on muscle growth and mainly act as stabilizer muscles when doing compound exercises.
Even though these muscles do not grow rapidly like the big muscle groups, they serve an invaluable purpose to assist your major muscle groups for movement and in stability.
Big Vs. Small Muscles – The Showdown
When it comes to big vs small muscles you should predominately work on your big muscle groups first. There are two very important reasons why.
- Performance – Your smaller muscles act as stabilizers for your bigger muscles. If you work out those muscle groups first, you’ll fatigue them out. When you do exercises that target your bigger muscle groups, your smaller muscle groups help assist in compound movement that will maximize movement during your reps. By fatiguing smaller muscle groups before working on your larger muscle groups you limit your range of movement. This decreases the intensity of your workouts and you aren’t reaching your full potential during working out.
- Safety – By working out smaller muscle groups before larger muscle groups you not only suffer performance loss, but you also are more prone to injury. As mentioned before, your smaller muscles act as stabilizers when doing exercises that target larger muscle groups. When your smaller muscle groups are fatigued you’ll be unable to have good form while lifting and have a much higher chance of injury.
You always want to keep in mind that doing exercises that target your big muscles typically also work out your smaller muscles as well because they typically require compound movements. Having a lot of compound exercises in your workout such as squats, benchpress, and deadlifts can improve your overall muscle growth and strength.
However, it is important to note that solely working with compound exercises doesn’t provide adequate stress on the smaller muscles to grow in the same proportion as bigger muscles. It is important that you also incorporate some exercises that specifically target smaller muscle groups. This ensures you have proportionate muscle growth throughout your body for a better body physique and overall health.
I see many people make the terrible mistake of just benchpressing for upper body and doing squats for their lower body. While they do gain a lot of muscle, it isn’t proportional and they end up looking like some freakish cartoon character.
I don’t want you to fall into that same mistake many beginners make. Which is why I highly recommend a good balance of exercises that target both small and big muscle groups.
Have you ever been guilty of focusing too much on big muscle groups?