Have you ever wondered why one side of your arm always look bigger than the other, despite the fact that you spent the same amount of time working on both sides? Or maybe the dominant side always last longer than the weaker side, even though you’re grabbing the bar as hard as you could with your weaker arm?
This is actually a pretty common phenomenon among most lifters. Muscular imbalances can be visible as the lifter starts getting bigger. There are many reasons that could cause this to happen. For instance, you might be required to use one of your arms regularly in your job, and this can be evidenced by the tennis players who tend to have Popeye arm on one hand, and a stick on the other one.
Here are some tips that can help address this issue:
1. Incorporate unilateral exercises into your routine
As your weaker side is lagging behind your dominant side, this gives you the opportunity to focus solely on one side of the body without any interference from the dominant side.
It also allows you to utilize your core muscles to help stabilize yourself as you’re performing the exercise. A great stability prevents your dominant side from taking over the majority of the loads when you choose to perform a bilateral exercise.
Never jeopardize your form for the sake of lifting the weights. Lifting heavier weights with poor form doesn’t translate into better strength gains.
2. Add more volume into your workout
Perform the exercise with your weaker hand, switch on to the dominant hand, and return to the weaker hand for few more reps. Since size is your priority, you should focus on adding more volume rather than performing it with heavier weights.
3. Add more weights into your workout
Focus on lifting heavier weights with your weaker hand to get stronger. Use the same amount of weight for your dominant side just to remain the strength. Keep your rep range between 1-5, and perform more sets, preferably 4-6 sets.
4. Perform bilateral exercises wisely
Let’s say you’re performing bicep curls with a barbell. You take the bar off the rack, and when you lift it up, focus consciously on contracting the weaker side. Look into the mirror or have a spotter observing your form to make sure the bar doesn’t lean towards the dominant side.
The key here is the mind and muscle connection. You want to pay more attention towards contracting the biceps rather than lifting up the weight. If you find it hard to concentrate, consider using a lighter weight.
5. Increase the range of motion for the weaker side
Stretch your muscles after your workout to lengthen the muscles, thereby giving you the chance to increase the ROM. A shorter ROM prevents you from performing an exercise within a normal ROM, and that’s the reason why you struggle to achieve a symmetrical physique.
6. Fix your posture
If you have suffered from an injury and it wasn’t treated rightly before, chances are you’ll be compensating the movement for the weaker side of your body by using the muscles on your dominant side. Addressing muscular dysfunction is essential as it could not only lead you to a better looking physique, you’ll also be able to lead a healthier lifestyle.
Once you have pinpoint the exact issue through movement screen, you can choose to perform corrective exercises to fix the problem. Otherwise, consult a physician to help prescribe exercises targeted towards your postural issue.
7. Work your antagonists
Everyone knows Monday is international chest day. Lifters will heap on heavy loads, performing a quarter of full ROM, and brag about how much their bench. A perfectly healthy exercise starts becoming a competition among the lifters, and they’ll start to neglect exercising the antagonist for the sake of boosting their ego.
This is a big no no, as a weaker body part causes an imbalance that is not only aesthetically unpleasing, it will also easily lead to an injury. An underdeveloped muscle will cause another body part to overcompensate for the movement, and since our body functions tightly as a tensegrity structure, it will affect the structure of your whole body.
8. Change the ergonomics of your workplace
Most of your time is spent outside of the gym, so what you do as a habit (even those little things you do on a daily basis) can also cause muscle imbalances. Spending too much time sitting in front of your computer in a slouched position, or inappropriate placement of work equipments can exaggerate this problem.