Use Different Angles to Build a Better Muscle

Depending on what plane we’re using, we can work different aspects of the muscle. Take the traps for example. When we’re upright, performing a shrug, we work the upper trap. When we’re faced down on an inclined bench, we’re working the mid/upper portion of the trap. As that angle changes, and we move into more of a pull-up angle, we work a lower part of the muscle.

The chest is the same. However, there are other plains that we may not be using in our training that can make a set much more difficult, and help us build more muscle in the process.

Take video #1. I use the push-up as an example, but the same technique can be used for chin-ups, squats, barbell curls, you name it. Take squats. If we want to focus on the outer muscles of our quads and gluts, add an outward force as we perform the exercise. If we want to work the inner muscles of our quads, groin, and hip flexors, add an inward force.

Video #1: inward force to isolate the pectoral muscle, adding more tension to the muscle from a unique plane.

I do the same thing with exercise #1 of video #2. It’s essentially a squeeze press performed on a medicine ball. What this does is bring a lateral angle of tension to the pectoral muscle that is coupled with the press of the push-up.

With the third video, we’re looking at understanding the muscle we’re trying to work. I use the lats as an example. When most of us perform a pull-up, we tilt our bodies backwards, isolating a portion of the lower lat. But to isolate the entire muscle, we need to use a vertical plane.

Try this next time you’re in the gym, you’ll feel it immediately, if not the next day as you recover. By changing the plane, we can more effectively train the muscle we’re trying to focus on.

Pay Attention to Your Plains

To build a full, balanced muscle, you and I need to train that muscle from each and every angle. We need to be doing decline, flat, and inclined bench presses while adding an inward tension to further isolate the chest. We need to be doing vertical pulldowns, as well as seated rows, and inverted rows to work the entire lat muscle, while adding an outward force to further isolate the muscle.

Know the muscle. Understand how it flows and which angles work it best. In this, an anatomy chart of the body’s muscles is your best friend. Happy training!

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  • Connor Macleod Farley

    I could be wrong; however, I believe the word you want is actually “planes” rather than “plains.”

    Just a heads up, could be worth looking into.

    Great article.

    • Chad Howse

      I’ll look into that for sure, thanks man.

    • Chad Howse

      Early morning brain fart. You are correct, thanks for the head’s up.

  • Scott Howse… good info though….got to admit my pull ups were not vertical …thanks for the tip dude

    • Chad Howse

      Haha all good man. Neither were mine for a while. Make the change and you’ll notice a big difference.

  • Trevor Wilson

    Not only does working the muscle through different planes improve our development, it also helps to increase mobility and prevent repetetive strain injuries. So we should always aim to get strong in all angles of motion.

    • Chad Howse

      Well said Trevor!