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Two Reasons Why YOU Have Muscle Imbalances!

Fix Them Now!

Posted by Scott_Herman - September 14th, 2015


Muscle imbalances affect us all in some form. An imbalance could be having one side that is weaker than the other or a significant difference in the size or shape of a pair of muscles. For example maybe one bicep is bigger than the other or one side of your chest is smaller.


Whatever the case may be, an imbalance is a problem and we need to fix it right away!


But before we jump into fixing your muscle imbalance, let’s first discuss why you have one to begin with.


Lifting Too Heavy

This is probably the most common reason why bodybuilders have muscle imbalances. Lifting too heavy is the result of combining BRO-SCIENCE with EGO creating EGO-SCIENCE! You have all these drug abusers (steroids) on YouTube claiming that you MUST “lift big to get big”, because they don’t understand the basics of building muscle and don’t care to further their own knowledge on the topic to help you, the natty lifter, because steroids are a hell of a drug and they just DO NOT CARE ABOUT YOU!


What happens when you lift too heavy is that your workout begins to focus more on “mechanical strength” instead of “breaking down muscle”. What I mean is, in order for you to lift weight that is too heavy for you, you will begin to contort your body and bring the wrong muscles into the exercise to complete a repetition. So congratulations, you can bench 315lbs, but you are focusing strictly on “mechanical strength” which means you are not using proper form which can lead to a serious injury in the future. This is because technically you can’t handle the weight which is why you are contorting your body to begin with.


Considering that BICEPS and CHEST are the most common muscle groups with muscle imbalances, let’s go over some examples of poor form that could result in having an imbalance.


Bicep Curls:

  • When curling weight that is too heavy you may start to swing your back and arms at the same time while thrusting your hips to complete a repetition. Instead of relying on your biceps to complete the movement, you are using momentum and in many cases taking the biceps OUT of the curl!

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  • But the biggest mistake people make when it comes to biceps curls is that they just completely ignore the entire bottom half of the movement.  If you do not fully extend your arms at the bottom of each repetition, you can’t expect to maximize your muscle engagement when curling!

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Bench Press:

  • When benching weight that is too heavy, you might start dropping the barbell so fast that you bounce it off your chest.  The “bounce” is what people use to get through the bottom part, or sticking point, of the movement because they are too weak to do it with proper form.  I am sure you can see why slamming your sternum with the barbell could lead to an injury.

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  • Even more common than the sternum bounce is the slowly disappearing range of motion repetitions.  This is when the range of motion you are working in will get smaller and smaller as you become more fatigued with each rep.

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Do any of these sound familiar?

Why do we do this to ourselves? What is the big deal with lifting weight we can ACTUALLY handle or if we are aiming to complete ten repetitions but fatigue out at five why not just stop, lower the weight, and then finish the repetitions with proper form?

Lack Of Mind-Muscle Connection: The Dominant Side Does All The Work

It is VERY IMPORTANT, especially as a beginner, that you learn to increase your mind-muscle connection. This is your ability to “feel” the muscles being worked. Once you master mind-muscle connection not only will your strength gains go through the roof, but your ability to breakdown more muscle for growth during each set will increase exponentially as well.

If you are the kind of person who does a lot of work with machines or barbells it can become very easy for you to rely a bit more on your dominant side to do more work when exercising.

Let’s use bicep curls and the bench press as examples again.

When performing a barbell bicep curl, look in the mirror to see if the bar is going up straight, especially when you start to fatigue. If not, that is a good indication that you are still relying on your dominant side to perform the movement.

The same goes for the barbell bench press. Take a look at the barbell as you perform each repetition. Is it going up straight? Or is it slightly slanted with the stronger side always going up first?

If you notice this happening, don’t worry we can fix it. The best thing to do would be to switch to dumbbells to help correct the issue. With dumbbells each arm will have to work independently of each other thus not allowing the dominant side to take over the movement.

Now, some of the most common questions I get are:

“Should I do more reps with the weaker side?”

Or

“Should I use less weight to train the dominant side less while strengthening the weaker side?”

The answer to both questions is no. What you should do is as soon as you become fatigued on the weaker side, put down your weights and grab lighter ones to finish the set strong!

You need to ALWAYS keep in mind that there are three mechanisms in which you build muscle. Mechanical Tension, Metabolic Stress and Muscle Damage.

  • Mechanical Tension: This is the tension that the weight puts on your muscles when you are going through full range of motion.  This tension is what causes your muscles to respond by adapting, growing and getting stronger

  • Metabolic Stress: This has to do with training that involves lots of repetitions and sets with short rest periods.

  • Muscle Damage: Muscle damage occurs when you exercise and cause micro tears to your muscles which leads to your muscles repairing an growing.  The most amount of muscle damage occurs in the negative portion of the movement which is why it is some important to always use full range of motion.

So even though you are decreasing the weight or “load” on the muscle, you are still utilizing metabolic damage and muscle damage to build more muscle.

I actually have a full-length article/video discussing these mechanisms on if you would like to check it out and 100% put your worries of always have to “lift big to get big” to rest.  CLICK HERE to check it out.


With that being said, lack of MMC usually happens as a direct result of my first point of lifting too heavy.  Also keep in mind that your MMC can and WILL get weaker over time if you lift too heavy and are not focusing on contracting your muscles properly.


But that is a story for another day, or, after you finish this video by clicking here or the link below.


LINK: Can’t Feel The Right Muscles Activate During A Lift? Fix It By Improving Mind-Muscle Connection!


How Do I Fix My Imbalances?

Believe it or not, the solution is quite simple.  The first thing you will need to do is kick your ego in the face and tell it to never come back!

Maybe that was a bit extreme, but you get the point. haha


Tip 1:

Begin to lower all your weights on all your exercises.  This doesn’t have to be a drastic drop, but enough so that you can perform your reps a bit slower and REALLY focus on isolating and contracting the muscles you are trying to engage.  Remember, you cause THE MOST MUSCLE DAMAGE in the negative portion of a movement.  If you have not been training with full range of motion, now is the time to start implementing and adding it to your new list of healthy workout habits.


Tip 2:

If you start to fatigue when performing your repetitions, instead of losing control, lower your weights and finish your reps.  Or if you have a spotter, have them step in to help you.


Keep this in mind as well.  When you lift too heavy and have to contort and twist yourself just to move the weight, your body is going to instinctively use your dominant side more to complete your repetitions.  This means that whatever small amount of muscle activation you are getting from these horrible repetitions is just going to further your current muscle imbalances.


Everything you need to build an amazing physique is inside YOU.  Just believe in yourself and stay focused.  You got this Nation!



Related Videos:


Can’t Feel The Right Muscles Activate During A Lift? Fix It By Improving Mind Muscle Connection!


Am I Not Growing Muscle If I'm Not Sore? - A Guide to Muscle Growth


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MEMBER COMMENTS
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Eggo

is the arch during bench press bad Scott? I heard different things about it 

Scott_Herman Edit Delete

Not at all.  Watch this video :-D


jcgadfly

Simple way to keep from cheating on biceps curls - SLOW DOWN.. 

heyhay5212

You got it right Scott! Even small changes in form can change the muscles being worked. Don't let that ego get in the way!

AnabolicAliens

The hooking of the arms during the bicep curl is probably the most annoying to me haha

jmboiardi

It is like I always say, "Don't train with Mo"........"Mo" being "Momentum".   You should make some MS T-shirts that say that :-)


Too many people focus on the "what" (the amount of weight) versus the "how" (proper muscular contraction)

crood Edit Delete

for certain moves you need a little momentum to get the weight moving, but it's mostly i.e.  just a slight bend in the hip like for an overhead press with heavier weight on the bar etc, but we talk here like a tiny descent with your hip and not like hip thrusting the bar up into a bicep curl or something like that lol. The momentum also should never move the weight into a position that would shorten the full range of motion in any way. It's a very fine line, and most people take this way too far, so i completely agree here.

JoeHurricane Edit Delete

Don't train with Mo...always shave before lifting :D

Fox84

This article will really help me alot, Awesome article Scott :)

JoeHurricane

I see a lot of these so often that it's not even funny. This is an article everyone needs to read! Information overload! Yeah!

Whisper

doesnt get any more comprehensive that that! nice work!