How Muscle Imbalance Affects Your Workout Routine & How to Fix It
What happens when you get muscle imbalances, and how does it impact your workout? Learn what you can do to fix muscle imbalance to get the most out of your workout routine.
The Easy Way to Find and Fix Muscle Imbalances
When you put in time in at the gym, you want to see positive results. All that hard work should reward you with a good physique. But sometimes you could run into an obstacle such as muscle imbalance. Although fixable, this is a condition that makes it difficult to reach your fitness goals on time.
You can also use muscle recovery supplements to reach your goals faster, but this is a whole new topic for discussion.
Once you notice some muscle imbalance symptoms, it’s important to fix them ASAP. And here we will teach you how to do it.
What is Muscle Imbalance?
Before we address how to fix muscle imbalance, it’s important to know what this is, exactly. Muscle imbalance is a condition when a muscle (or muscle group) on one side of the body is bigger, weaker, and/or smaller than the one on the other side.
While this condition can develop anywhere on your body, the most common types of muscle imbalance are Upper and Lower Crossed Syndrome.
- Upper Crossed Syndrome occurs on your upper body – with shoulder, neck, and chest muscles.
- Lower Crossed Syndrome follows the same logic – it’s when you have an imbalance of lower body muscles. The most common one is in the pelvic area.
Muscle Imbalance Causes
There are a lot of causes of muscle imbalance. But the most common one is when you train one muscle group while neglecting the other. For example, doing more reps on dumbbell curls with a strong arm could cause muscle imbalances between the weaker and stronger arm. So it’s always important to incorporate a workout routine, that helps you to balance upper and lower body workout to develop a proportionate physique.
You could also suffer muscle imbalances because of bad posture, inactivity, natural development, or exercising with improper form.
How Muscle Imbalances Affect Your Workout Routine
Strengthening your muscles is beneficial. But if you focus on specific areas and neglect others – that is when you may suffer from muscle imbalances. And this condition is a lot more serious than you might think. Because muscle imbalance can affect posture and lead to limited mobility. If several muscle groups are not functioning efficiently, the imbalance can change the joint path of motion. This places you at risk of injury while lifting heavy objects or during routine workouts.
Shortened muscles can alter joint movements and cause difficulties that prevent you from fully extending and using your muscles. This means your joints don’t get the support they need to stay healthy. You may also experience muscle imbalance causing the pain, because of shortened hip flexors, which cause knee and low back pain.
There’s an increased risk of injury, which includes damage to tendons, connective tissue, muscles, bones, ligaments, and joints. Besides, imbalances in your muscles are a rather cosmetical issue too, that can affect your self-esteem and confidence.
How to Spot Muscle Imbalances
Muscle imbalance diagnosis is easy. The first type of imbalance you can notice is asymmetry. Grab a measuring tape and compare your muscles. Also, take some time to analyze the connection between your lower and upper halves and the front and back muscles to spot flaws. it’s also a good idea to take pictures from different angles. If you have a muscle imbalance, it will usually be visible.
How to Prevent Muscle Imbalances
You can prevent muscle imbalance by incorporating a workout program, based on compound exercises that build your entire body. But overall the best way to avoid muscle imbalance is to work on every area of your body. Don’t obsess about building huge muscles in a single area! If you’re doing lunges or lifting weights, always do the same amount of reps on either side.
How to Fix Muscle Imbalances
In order to avoid and fix muscle imbalances, it’s useful to remember several tips that will help you battle it:
1 – Unilateral Exercises
Unilateral exercises are probably the best muscle imbalance treatment. These are single-leg or arm movements, that ensure that each side of your body works as hard without your dominant muscle aiding the weaker side. The main benefit of these exercises is the fact that you’re using both sides of the body equally.
2 – Begin With the Weaker Side
Naturally, one side of your body will be dominant. You’ll favor the stronger side even without knowing because it feels easier for you. So if you’re right-handed, your right side will usually be dominant and vice versa. But always try to prioritize your weaker side, if you wish to avoid and fix muscle imbalance problem. It will also protect you from any muscle imbalances that might occur.
3 – Use Your Weaker Side to Set Workout Volume
If you choose to train the dominant side first, the weaker side will struggle to keep up. The best solution is to use your weaker side to set the workload. Starting on your weaker side helps you determine the amount of work your stronger side will do. This in turn stops the dominant side from outworking the other side. If you want to do 4 sets of 10 reps on lunges and the weaker side can only handle 7, that’s the number your stronger side should do as well, even if you can do more with it.
Always strive for balance.
4 – Perform Additional Workout on Your Weaker Side
Balancing the load of work on both sides is not enough to address the existing problem. You must also do additional workouts on the weaker side. Exercises, such as muscle imbalance stretches, will help you fix the proportional imbalances.
Increase workout load on the weaker side, or reduce the workout load on your dominant side, if you wish to maintain the same routine. An extra workout on the troubled area of the body will speed up recovery.
5 – Fix the Underlying Issue
Every problem has an origin, so if you fix your muscle imbalances and forget about what caused them, you might be back there sooner. While all these strategies will fix your muscle imbalance, you should explore other possibilities. Maybe your technique is wrong, or you’re not focused enough. Also, you could be struggling with flexibility or mobility, making it difficult to perform certain workouts.
For example, limited mobility on one shoulder can affect your shoulder and bench press workout and result in one side taking more work than the other. Once you identify the underlying problem, improve your mobility and flexibility around that area to prevent the imbalance from coming back.
Muscle imbalances are a part of the workout process. Ignoring them could lead to injuries since both your posture and flexibility are affected. Besides, you don’t want to be lifting weights when your body cannot maintain the perfect proportion you require to stay on your feet.
Before you get started fixing your muscle imbalances, probe your condition to understand the underlying problem, which you must address first, then embrace a workout routine that ensures balanced input between the weaker and dominant sides of your body.
And that’s all there is to it! Hopefully, we managed to answer all your questions regarding muscle imbalance, and how you can fix it.
Do you have additional tips to share? Let us know in the comments below, we would love to know!
Author’s bio: The writer is Thomas Nemel. He is passionate about writing and enthusiastic about bodybuilding. In his spare time, he likes to ride his motorbike. Thomas always tries to engage people in healthy living through his writings.