If You're Struggling To Fix A Muscle Imbalance, You Need To Read This Article
A muscle imbalance can be frustrating.
Potentially limiting your progress in the gym and your ability to build muscle.
One side of your body is strong. And makes you feel like a descendant of Hercules. But the other side is letting you down. Seemingly as weak as an 8 year old school girl.
And it's starting to get embarrassing.
So you're reading this because you want to know how to fix your imbalance. And there's good news.
Correcting a muscle imbalance is not that hard. In this article, you'll discover 3 simple steps that will give your weakness, new-found strength.
Why Do Muscle Imbalances Occur?
A muscle imbalance is common. And sometimes inevitable.
No doubt, you have a dominant arm, leg, and hand. Typically, if you right-side is dominant in terms of writing, throwing, and other similar activities, this will translate to the gym.
Pressing and pulling movements, especially with a barbell, may see your dominant side taking over.
To what degree, is highly individual. As is the degree of any muscle imbalance that will start to form.
Bi-lateral movements, such as the barbell bench press, barbell squats, barbell shoulder press, leg press, and leg extension are a few of the exercises which may result in the development of a muscle imbalance over time.
This might sound worrying, especially if these exercises make up the lion's share of your training.
But don't fret.
After all, it's highly unlikely you'll develop one massively muscular and one Sparrow-like leg. But left unaddressed for long enough, it might cause some issues.
For example, a very dominant leg in a squat may cause a lack of stability in certain phases of the movement. And this could lead to niggles, aches, and pains. Additionally, from a physique perspective, a muscle imbalance can be visually noticeable. And from a pure vanity perspective, or desire for balance, you might want to address the issue.
Thankfully, bringing balance to your muscles is easier than bringing balance to the Force. So read on my Padawan, Master Yoda's Muscle Imbalance 101 class is in session.
Muscle imbalances are common and often inevitable. If you can, identify them as early as possible. Spend time working on them to avoid issues and limitations in the future.
How To Fix A Muscle Imbalance In 3 Simple Steps
Your approach to correcting a muscle imbalance doesn't have to be complicated.
There's no fancy hack, just 3 small adjustments to your training.
1) Think About The Weaker Side
Consciously thinking about your weaker leg, or arm during a particular exercise, helps work against your natural instinct to favour the stronger side.
Think about a leg press.
With both feet against the platform, actively think about pushing more with your weaker leg. At first this might feel strange. It might even feel as though you're overcompensating, possibly pushing too much with the weak side. But, in reality, this is the first step to establishing a more balanced approach to this, or any other lift.
2) Choose More Dumbbell Or Unilateral Exercises
As your muscle imbalance is most likely to be developed in bi-lateral exercises, opting for more Dumbbell and Unilateral exercises in your programme, forces the weaker side to work equally as hard.
With these exercises it's important to work to the current limitations of your weaker side.
For example, if your weaker side can manage 8 reps of a Dumbbell Bench Press, don't be tempted to do more with your stronger side because you feel like you've got more in the tank. That's a recipe for a bigger imbalance than you have now.
Incorporating unilateral exercises, such as a split squat can be used in place of, or in addition to your bilateral movements. In the scenario of a weaker leg, adding 1-2 sets of splits squats ONLY on your weak side, will provide more volume and more training stimulus.
If your muscle imbalances are more pronounced, then a programme dominated by unilateral exercises, might be your best option.
Although, be prepared for longer workouts. Training each side separately can take time.
3) Add More Volume To The Weaker Side
Building muscle is largely a derivative of progressive overload and increases in training volume (a gross oversimplification, but it's fine for the purposes of this point).
Simply adding more reps and sets to your weaker body part, will begin to address any muscle imbalance.
So, when planning your training, ensure you have additional volume where you need it. The amount of additional volume you need, will be driven by the degree of imbalance and the amount of training you can logically recover from.
Start with a small amount of additional volume, ie 1-2 sets, then increase if and when required.
Correcting a muscle imbalance is largely about making the weaker body part do more work. This can either be through intent, exercise selection, more volume, or a combination of all three.
The Bottom Line On How To Fix Your Muscle Imbalance
A muscle imbalance is often inevitable. But with the right approach to your training, over time they are relatively simple to correct.
Your muscle imbalances might be frustrating and feel difficult to correct. But it doesn't have to be the case. With a few simple adjustments to your training, you fix an imbalance relatively easily.
It might need you to park your ego at the door, work on form, back off weight, and do exercises you wouldn't normally choose. But here's the thing.
Time spent fixing an imbalance now, prevents hitting a brick wall in the future.
It also prevents you having to wear trousers to the beach as you're embarrassed to show off your half-rhino, half-chicken, lower body.
So, here's those three simple steps again;
- Create more intent with your weaker side. Make a conscious effort to push or pull more, with your weaker side.
- Choose different exercises. Adopt more dumbbell and unilateral movements to minimise the opportunities for your dominant side to take over.
- Increase training volume where you have a muscle imbalance. More reps and sets, specifically on your weaker side, should promote more muscle growth over time.
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