The 5 Hardest Parts of The Body to Train and Grow

The 5 Hardest Parts of The Body to Train and Grow

Have you ever felt like you’re putting in all the effort but not seeing the results you want? If you’ve been hitting the gym consistently but still struggling to develop certain areas of your body, you’re not alone.

We all have those body parts that resist growth and remain stubbornly underdeveloped. But what if I told you that some body parts are inherently more challenging to train and grow than others and that understanding the psychological and physiological reasons behind this could make all the difference in achieving your fitness goals?

In this article, we’ll explore the most challenging parts of the body to train and grow. Then, we will provide you with the knowledge and tools to overcome these obstacles and take your physique to the next level.

1. Biceps

Right bicep Flexing

The biceps are one of the most popular muscles to train but can also be one of the hardest to grow. One of the reasons for this is that the biceps are a small muscle group, which means that they have a limited capacity for growth compared to larger muscles like the chest or back.

Additionally, genetics can play a significant role in determining how easily your biceps will grow. Some people naturally grow bigger biceps. In contrast, others may struggle to see significant gains despite their efforts.

Another reason why biceps can be hard to train is that people often rely on the same exercises and rep ranges, leading to a lack of variety in their workouts. This can cause the muscle to plateau and stop growing as it adapts to the same stimuli. To overcome this, mix up your training routine and incorporate different exercises, rep ranges, and training intensities to keep your biceps challenged and stimulated.

Finally, it’s essential to remember that the biceps are not the only muscle group contributing to arm size and definition. Neglecting other muscles, such as the triceps and forearms, can limit your overall arm development and make it harder to achieve the results you want. By focusing on a well-rounded training program that targets all the muscles in your arms, you can overcome the challenges of bicep training and build the strong, defined arms you desire.

How to Train Biceps

Building bicep muscles can be tricky because they are relatively small compared to your chest and back. To see the best results, it’s recommended that you use lighter weights when exercising your biceps. This way, you can focus on flexing and releasing your biceps without involving other muscles. Remember these basic rules when creating your workout routine:

  1. Work your biceps up to three days a week, with at least one rest day between each workout.
  2. Rest for at least two days between bicep workouts if you’re lifting heavier weights.
  3. For leaner bicep muscles, stick to one to three sets of 12 to 16 reps with at least one day of rest in between.

Choosing the right exercises that stimulate both the long and short heads of your biceps is also essential. Four of the best bicep exercises to try are the standing barbell curl, one-arm preacher curl, incline dumbbell curl, and hammer curl. Incorporate these exercises into your routine, and you’ll be on your way to achieving the strong and defined arms you desire.

2. Obliques

A bodybuilders core

Obliques, those elusive muscles that frame your waistline, can be quite the challenge when it comes to training and growth. Unlike some larger muscle groups, obliques are relatively smaller and often buried under layers of stubborn belly fat.

Unfortunately, this makes it difficult for them to shine through and showcase their true strength and definition. But fear not because understanding the reasons behind the difficulty of training obliques can help you conquer this fitness hurdle.

One of the primary reasons why obliques are hard to train is their location and function. Situated on the sides of your abdomen, the obliques are responsible for rotational movements and lateral flexion of the spine. However, these movements are not as commonly performed in daily activities or traditional workout routines compared to, say, crunches or squats. Therefore, neglecting to engage and target the obliques specifically can result in them lagging in growth and development.

Another challenge is that the rectus abdominis, the muscle responsible for the coveted six-pack appearance, frequently overshadow the obliques. While the rectus abdominis steals the spotlight with its straight, vertical lines, the obliques often go unnoticed. Achieving well-defined obliques requires a dedicated effort to carve out their unique shape and make them pop.

Furthermore, genetics and body composition play significant roles in your obliques’ visibility and growth potential. For example, some individuals naturally have the predisposition to store more fat around their midsections, making it even more challenging to uncover and sculpt those oblique muscles. Additionally, hormonal factors and individual body types can influence how easily your obliques respond to training stimuli.

How to Train Obliques

To overcome these challenges, it’s crucial to incorporate targeted oblique exercises into your workout routine. Movements like side planks, Russian twists, bicycle crunches, and woodchoppers can help isolate and engage the obliques, stimulating growth and definition. Additionally, adopting a comprehensive approach that combines a healthy diet, cardiovascular exercise, and overall body strength training can aid in shedding excess fat and revealing your hard-earned oblique muscles.

Remember, sculpting and growing obliques takes time, patience, and consistent effort. But, by understanding their unique challenges and tailoring your training accordingly, you’ll be well on your way to unlocking those enviable, chiseled waistline muscles that set you apart from the crowd.

3. Shoulders

A bodybuilders left side viewed from the front

Shoulders, those crucial joints responsible for a wide range of upper body movements, can be notoriously challenging to train and grow. These complex joints have three different heads, each with its unique function, making them a complicated and multi-faceted muscle group.

So let’s dive into some reasons why shoulders can be such a tough nut to crack when it comes to training and growth.

One of the primary challenges when training shoulders is their vulnerability to injury. The shoulders are one of the most mobile joints in the body, allowing for a vast range of motion. However, this mobility can come at a cost, making shoulders more susceptible to overuse, impingement, and strain injuries. This can be incredibly frustrating for those trying to build their shoulder muscles. In addition, an injury can quickly sideline progress and hinder growth.

Another obstacle to shoulder growth is the difficulty in effectively targeting all three heads of the shoulder muscle group. The anterior (front) head, medial (middle) head, and posterior (rear) head all have different functions and require specific exercises to isolate and target effectively. Neglecting any of the three heads can result in an imbalanced or underdeveloped shoulder, which not only affects appearance but can also impact functional strength and performance.

Additionally, the shoulders are a smaller muscle group than the chest or back, making it challenging to stimulate adequate growth. Unlike larger muscles that can handle heavier weights and higher training volume, shoulders require a more targeted and precise approach to avoid injury while achieving optimal growth.

Finally, genetics can also play a role in shoulder growth potential. For example, some individuals may naturally have broader or more well-defined shoulders due to their bone structure. In contrast, others may have difficulty achieving that desired V-shape appearance.

Overcoming these challenges requires a comprehensive approach that balances injury prevention, targeted exercises, and adequate rest and recovery. For example, incorporating movements like shoulder presses, lateral raises, and face pulls can help isolate and target all three heads of the shoulder muscle group. In addition, adopting proper form, adequate rest, and a balanced nutrition plan can help maximize growth potential while minimizing the risk of injury.

How to Train Shoulders

Ready to get those shoulders popping? Well, listen up, because according to the experts, these are the moves you need to master: overhead press, push press, barbell shrug, seated Arnold press, seated lateral raise, and bent-over reverse fly. But before you hit the gym, here’s what you need to know to ensure you’re doing these exercises right and maximizing your shoulder gains.

First, don’t cheat yourself out of muscle growth by only doing partial reps. You want to move your muscles through their full range of motion to engage as many muscle fibers as possible. This means taking it slow and steady and avoiding cheat reps. And while you’re at it, stick to a strict tempo to ensure you’re not sacrificing form for speed.

But that’s not all. If you want those shoulders to grow, you’ve got to subject them to some serious fatigue. That means keeping your rest periods brief and pushing through the burn. Sure, taking a long break between sets might be tempting, but trust us, you’ll see better results if you keep that rest time short and sweet.

Pro Tip: Drop sets are a great way to really turn up the shoulder growth.

4. Calves

Calf muscles posed

If you’re one of the many gym-goers who have struggled to grow your calf muscles, you’re not alone. Despite their small size, calves can be one of the most challenging muscle groups to train effectively. Why? Well, for starters, the calf muscles are made up of two distinct muscle groups – the gastrocnemius and the soleus – which require different types of stimulation to grow.

Another challenge when it comes to training calves is that they’re constantly being used throughout the day. Think about it – every step requires your calf muscles to contract and relax. That means they’re already pretty darn strong, and they can be resistant to change.

But fear not because you can still make those calf muscles grow with the right approach. One key factor is volume – you must do enough reps and sets to fatigue those muscles and stimulate growth. Another critical factor is variety – don’t just stick to the same old calf raises every time you hit the gym. Instead, mix it up with different angles, weights, and rep ranges to keep your muscles guessing and prevent plateauing.

How to Train Calves

Are you tired of feeling like your calf muscles are always lagging behind the rest of your physique? Then, it’s time to give those lower legs some love! While calf training can be challenging, you can do plenty of exercises to build some serious muscle.

Sure, the seated calf raise machine is a staple in most gyms, but why not switch things up with a challenging free-weight exercise? Enter the dumbbell calf jump. This move is all about power – start with a dumbbell in each hand, soften your knees, and explode upward into a jump. Your calves will be doing all the heavy lifting! Try for 20 reps and 3 sets to really feel the burn.

But here’s a pro tip – since our calves are constantly being worked just by walking around, you need to give them a different kind of stimulation to see real growth. This means incorporating a full range of motion in your calf exercises rather than just the partial range used in walking. For example, try walking uphill or using the incline feature on the treadmill to really challenge those calf muscles.

And if you want to take things to the next level, try some eccentric reps. This means lifting with both legs and lowering slowly with just one. It might sound crazy, but this technique puts a ton of stress on your muscles and can lead to serious gains.

Additionally, BFR has been extremely effective for growing calves!

5. Triceps

man performing tricep pushdowns in gym with cable machine

Are you frustrated with your triceps progress? It’s no secret that building these muscles can be a real challenge. But before you throw in the towel, it’s important to understand why tricep training can be so challenging.

First, our triceps are made up of three separate muscles, which means that simply doing one or two exercises won’t be enough to stimulate all of the muscle fibers fully. To truly see progress, you must incorporate exercises targeting each head of the triceps.

Another reason why tricep training can be tricky is that the larger shoulder and chest muscles often overshadow these muscles. Neglecting them in your workouts can be easy, leading to slow progress or even plateaus.

And let’s remember proper form. Many people make the mistake of using too much weight or relying on momentum to complete tricep exercises, which can take the focus away from the muscles and limit their growth potential.

But fear not – there are plenty of ways to overcome these challenges and build some serious tricep muscle. For example, incorporating exercises such as dips, close-grip bench presses, and skull crushers can help you hit all three heads of the triceps. And by focusing on proper form and technique, you can ensure that you’re truly targeting the muscles and not just going through the motions.

How to Train Triceps

If you want to sculpt defined and powerful triceps, you need to know how to hit all three heads of the muscle. One of the best exercises for this is the bench dip, where you lower yourself between two benches using your triceps. But that’s not all there is to it. To target the lateral heads, use an overhand or parallel grip when your arms are straight by your sides. For the medial heads, use an underhand grip in the same position. Remember that they assist with all triceps lifts when the arms reach full extension. The long heads are most worked when the elbows are moved in front of your body or overhead, so include overhead extensions in your routine. And always remember to squeeze out full contractions on every rep to engage your triceps muscles fully.

Are you struggling to grow but training consistently? It might be time for a deload week!

The Hardest Muscles to Grow

Training and growing certain muscles in the body can be a difficult and frustrating task. However, with the right exercises, techniques, and mindset, you can overcome these challenges and achieve desired results. Whether it’s the biceps, obliques, shoulders, calves, or triceps, the key is to stay consistent, challenge yourself, and never give up. 

Remember, every journey begins with a single step, so take that step today and start your journey to building the body of your dreams. And if you want some extra help, remember to check out the free workout section. There, you’ll find a wealth of information and resources to help you reach your fitness goals. So what are you waiting for? Let’s get growing!


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In 2013 I attended TVCC with my studies focusing on nutrition and biology. After leaving TVCC I pursued a career in inbound marketing and have worked in many different industries including health and fitness, firearms, coaching, and many more. I spent 6 years training for powerlifting and 6 years after training for a bodybuilding show in Idaho, which sadly did not come to fruition.

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