Your body is a dynamic machine, composed of several intra-operating systems and components that work fluidly in motion together. If one component is not working right or has an issue, it causes a disruption to the whole system. For example, if your hip is tight, it will affect your quads, hamstrings, and distal knee. Making it nearly impossible for you to perform at your highest level when you’re running and potentially causing injury. If one of your traps is weaker than the other, your overhead snatch can quickly result in injury, since your stronger side, put so much strain on the weaker side. Nearly everyone has some type of muscular imbalance., it’s not an uncommon occurrence. The most important thing, however, is to identify where the postural and muscular imbalances lie in your body so that you can address them, before you make a small situation, worse.
Why Do Muscular Imbalances Occur?
We develop muscle and postural imbalances as we progress through life. Small imbalances are created from certain lifestyle factors found in our environment such as sleeping on one side, working at a desk in a certain position, and carrying your bag on a preferred shoulder. They can also occur from rehabbing old injuries, poor exercise form, and only using weight machines, with no exercise variability.
Athletes who play golf or baseball, for example, can produce muscular imbalances due to favoring a dominant side. High-intensity functional training programs can also cause imbalances from using your dominant or stronger side, to push through PRs.
The most crucial factor is to identify your imbalance and fix it. Lifting weights will help you get stronger, but if you have a muscle or postural imbalance, it will only make it worse, since you’ll be compensating for your weaker muscles.
How To Fix Muscular Imbalances
1. Identify The Cause
It’s important to find balance in your body. A direct consequence of having a stronger side is that it can have negative effects on your posture, treating musculoskeletal issues. Identifying the root cause of your imbalance is vital in aligning your body correctly and fostering your stability and mobility through your workouts. An easy way to find imbalances is by performing unilateral exercises, such as single-arm overhead press. Bench press is another great exercise which will quickly reveal what side you prefer in your upper-body. To identify your muscular imbalances in your lower body, such as your quads, or hamstrings, get under the squat rack and see what side comes up first. Other times, it’s harder to identify the cause. In other instances, your core stability can be the cause of several imbalances.
2. Use Lighter Weight
Lifting too heavy can result in severe muscular imbalances from using more mechanical strength than muscular strength. Instead of pulling power directly from a certain muscle group, you overcompensate and use other muscle groups to do the heavy lifting. Put the ego aside. No one cares how heavy you lift. You’ll end up using bad form, by underutilizing a full range of motion, which will do what? Exactly, create muscular imbalances. Perform the full squat and get parallel, don’t drop down a couple of inches, because you stacked on an extra 100lbs you can’t actually lift. You’ll end up with weaker glutes, hamstrings, quads, and core. Not only that but you’ll look like an idiot. Ramp up weight slowly, and use good form throughout each and every rep. This will ensure that you find balance and symmetry.
2. Perform Unilateral Exercises
If you’re the person who isn’t confident using free weights, and opts for weight machines, please stop. While weight machines are great for focusing on a specific muscle group, after you identify your imbalances, they can also be a culprit in mis-balancing your body. For example, if you’re using a chest press machine or pec fly, you’ll always use your dominant side, to do the heavy lifting. Pec fly requires using your anterior deltoids, rhomboid, and scapula. But, oftentimes, those who favor one side will actually recruit muscles which aren’t even intended to perform the exercise, such as their traps and neck, to do the work.
This puts your less developed muscles at risk for injury and creates a recipe for disaster. The best way to fix this is to focus on one-sided or unilateral exercises.
If you can identify where your weakness is, then you can focus on that specific part of your body with a single leg, or single-arm movements, to isolate and balance your body. Increasing your rep volume will help even out your muscle size and strength.
4. Use Better Form
Your form has a direct connection to what muscles you use and how your muscles and strength are developed. Without proper form you recruit muscles outside of intended focus, putting yourself at greater risk of injury and imbalance from compensation.
5. Improve Your Range Of Motion And Mobility
Stress, muscle soreness, and other factors can greatly hinder your mobility. If your mobility is compromised, then you won’t be able to achieve a full range of motion and good form. For example, stress can contribute to creating muscle knots, or calcified muscle tissue and fascia. This can force you to recruit other muscles creating an imbalance. Muscle tightness can also be a major cause of imbalance, especially when you haven’t fully recovered before your next training session.
Try stretching and foam rolling to give yourself a good dynamic warm-up before hitting the weights or your workout. If you have muscle knots, use a foam roller, or try some of these other active recovery methods. In addition, make sure to recover before starting your next training session. Getting an adequate amount of carbs and protein post-workout is crucial to help replenish your body with vital nutrients to recover faster. Supplements such as L-Glutamine and BCAAs will also help hydration and post-workout muscle soreness, to ensure you recover and don’t over-compensate from muscle weakness.
How To Fix Muscle Imbalances Takeaway
Before you actively start training or working out try and identify your muscular and postural imbalances. This will help you avoid larger issues and injuries in the future. The last thing you want is to develop bad habits through compromised form and work through mobility issues. This is the quickest way to a pulled or torn muscle, inadequate gate, and muscle tightness, which can lead to musculoskeletal issues.
Better active recovery will help you hit the training floor feeling fresh and ready to go. By not recovering before your next training session, you put yourself and body at risk for injury. That's where supplementation comes in.
L-Glutamine is made with 100% pharmaceutical grade micronized L-Glutamine. Glutamine is a conditionally essential amino acid, which helps rebuild repair and recover muscle mass after strenuous exercise to reduce muscle breakdown and exercise-induced muscle soreness. Faster recovery times between training sessions will help increase training volume and endurance, while also keeping you less prone to injuries and creating muscular imbalances.
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