Usually it’s one arm or leg that tends to be a bit bigger and/or stronger than the other, but it can really be any muscle group.
Some people notice one shoulder or one side of their chest is bigger than the other, or that the barbell moves unevenly because one side is stronger and therefore moving the weight slightly faster than the other.
The cause of this can be any number of issues that are occurring in the gym or just within your regular day-to-day life. Whatever it is, let’s focus less on what caused it and more on how to correct it.
Here now are 4 common ways to fix muscle imbalances in strength and/or size…
1. Switch to dumbbell/unilateral exercises.
If one side is stronger than the other, that stronger side will pretty much always take over during an exercise where both sides are being trained together.
For example, during a bench press. If your right side is stronger than your left, your right arm will always do more work during that exercise.
You probably won’t even realize it either… it will just naturally happen.
The way around this is to start replacing your bilateral exercises ,with unilateral exercises.
2. Always start with the weaker side.
There’s a good reason why you have a muscle on one side that is bigger or stronger than the other side. Whether you realize it or not, you give that dominant side special treatment.
Whenever you do an exercise where you train each side individually, always start with your weaker side.
It’s the side that actually deserves the special treatment.
3. Let your weaker side dictate what your stronger side does.
When you follow the 2 steps mentioned above, you may notice that your stronger side is STILL your stronger side. Meaning, you may lift 25kg for 10 reps on an exercise with your weak side, but then go on to lift 25kg for 12 reps with your stronger side.
If you keep allowing that to happen, your weaker side will never catch up to your stronger side.
What you need to do instead is let your weaker side dictate what you allow your stronger side to do. So, if you can only do 10 reps with your weaker side, then you should only do 10 reps with your stronger side… even if you could have done more.
Doing this will give your weak side a chance to finally catch up to your strong side, at which point you can allow both sides to progress equally from that point on.
4. Solve the underlying problem.
In many cases, people just have a dominant, stronger side that just ends up doing more of the work in the gym and in everyday life in general. As a result, muscle strength and size imbalances are created over time.
There might just be an issue with flexibility or mobility that’s preventing you from training both sides evenly. Maybe one side is tighter than the other and it’s keeping that side from doing what it should be doing during various exercises.
In a case like this, changes may need to be made to the way you train or warm up to fix this and prevent more serious injury-related problems from arising in the future.
If it doesn’t, it’s likely that something like this is the true culprit and you need to dedicate some special attention towards fixing it.
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Melissa O' Shaugnessy founder and owner of Fit Healthy You Fitness. I want to help people understand fitness and nutrition by keeping it simple stop all the confusion.