If you’re doing any sort of weight training, you may have noticed that one side is stronger than the other. Whether it’s your legs, your abs or your arms it can lead to problems for your workout and your body.
Jonathan Jensen, an OptumHealth Performance Coach told Minnesota Tri News, “This typically culminates in two ways: first, it leaves a gap in performance due to faster fatigue on the weak side, and a higher work load on the stronger. The second is injury.”
Is this Common?
Yes and yes. Many people suffer from strength imbalance.
Whether you can physically see that your barbell is moving unevenly or that one muscle is actually smaller than the other, most people suffer from strength imbalances. Unfortunately, if you’re serious about your workouts or perform in races/competitions, it can lead to injury and decreased performance. So, how do you even out your strength?
How to Balance Out
Your every day routine in the gym can be the number one cause of strength imbalance. Bilateral movements, for example, can have a significant impact on this. If you’re often using the bench press or military press, the stronger side will always have a chance to take over.
However, it’s much easier than you may think to balance your body and improve strength all over. Consider how you can modify your workout routine to allow both sides to shine.
– Perform Independent moves: The only way to ensure each muscle group is getting adequate attention is to focus on them each independently. Grab a set of dumbbells to work on arm strength, for example. In this case you would switch from a barbell curl to a dumbbell curl.
– Be only as strong as your weak side: Not only should you always start with your weaker side (until you find you’ve balanced out) but allow your weak side to dictate the workout. This follows the idea of “you’re only as fast as your weakest teammate” ensuring everyone (all your muscle groups) keeps up.
– Assess underlying problems: For some, imbalance is a symptom of another issue such as muscle tightness. If this is the case, you’ll need to modify your warm-up and post workout stretches to alleviate any mobility tension in that side.
It is not uncommon to have one side stronger than the other, regardless of whether it’s your arms or your legs. However, this can lead to injury or decreased performance, making it an important issue to address as soon as possible.
By modifying your workout, you’re able to improve strength in your weaker side while decreasing overall imbalance. Be sure to try dumbbell workouts as opposed to barbell, for example. If these changes do not bring balance to your muscles, then it’s time to consider whether flexibility and mobility are the real issue; if that’s the case you’ll need to change your warm up and post-workout stretching.