The Basics of Bodybuilding Symmetry, Part II

Learn How to Get Bodybuilding Symmetry In Order to Make You Look Bigger

Natural Bodybuilder Tom Venuto
Natural Bodybuilder Tom Venuto.

In Part I of The Basics of Bodybuilding Symmetry we took a look at what the definition of bodybuilding symmetry is and why being symmetrical can help you to look bigger. In this part of the article, we will start to look at some of the specific strategies that can literally sculpt your body into a work of art.

Balanced Development

Almost everyone has a favorite body part or a body part that grows very easily. But favoritism in physique development can quickly destroy your shape. Frank Zane said, “The whole point is not to fall in love with one particular body part and throw everything else out.”

Many people believe that symmetry is the perfectly balanced development of every muscle in the body, but that’s only one aspect of symmetry. Having a huge upper body with toothpick legs makes you unsymmetrical, but there’s more to it than that.

Symmetry doesn’t always mean adding muscle evenly everywhere. Sometimes it means developing certain muscle groups to their absolute maximum while minimizing others.

Low Body Fat

One characteristic that will destroy anyone’s symmetry is excess body fat. It doesn’t matter how shapely your muscles are if they’re covered with a layer of squishy lard. Body fat adds width and circumference in the hips and waistline, which is one of the quickest ways to destroy your symmetry. Even if you’re not one of the “genetically blessed” with favorable bone structure and muscle insertions, reducing your waist size by losing body fat is a guaranteed way to improve your symmetry.

Tiny waist

The smaller your waist, the more of an “illusion” of symmetry you create. This is achieved mostly by fat reduction through the right bodybuilding diet and cardiovascular exercise. However, certain exercises can broaden the waist. Anything that builds the lateral obliques like dumbbell side bends, should be avoided. Certain athletes may use side bends for sports training purposes, but if symmetry is your bodybuilding goal, stay away from them.

Heavy squats can increase your hip and waist size too. This is especially true when performing the squat powerlifting style. If you are naturally thick waisted and wide in the hips with large glutes, avoid the back squat if you want to improve your symmetry.

Broad Shoulders

Broadening your shoulders creates the optical illusion of a smaller waist, even if your waist size doesn’t change. To see just how much of a difference this makes, take a sock or a ball of tissue, and stuff it inside your shirt on each side of your shoulders. Then look in the mirror. Even a small increase in width completely transforms your appearance.

The portion of the shoulders you want to emphasize the most for symmetry is the lateral head of the deltoid. Most people overwork their front deltoids. They emphasize too many shoulder presses, front raises, and bench presses and not enough lateral raises.

I have never seen an exercise performed improperly more often than lateral raises. The most common error is to let the thumbs come up high and the elbows fall too low. The proper way to do lateral raises is to lead with the elbows and keep the palms facing down. To activate the side deltoid even more, you can use the “pour the water” technique, where you internally rotate your arm so your little finger is slightly higher than your thumb.

Larry Scott, the first Mr. Olympia, used this technique to help him build some of the greatest shoulders ever, even though he wasn’t genetically gifted in the broad clavicles department.

Another terrific width builder is the medium or wide grip upright row. Most people perform this exercise with a narrow grip, which lets your trapezius hog all the glory. If you’re naturally narrow in the shoulders and you want to maximize your symmetry and V shape, avoid direct trap work in favor of side delt work.


Start trying these techniques out and see how much your symmetry will start to improve. In Part III of this article, I will continue to cover various bodybuilding techniques that you can use in order to improve your symmetry and create the impression of a bigger looking you!

Go to: The Basics of Bodybuilding Symmetry, Part III.