Are you are stronger in one particular arm than other? Do you feel as though one arm isn’t responding to training the same as the other? These are common problems faced by almost every person who weight trains with the intention to increase their mass and strength.
Common development problems that many people face are imbalances with corresponding body parts. These imbalances often stem from two things. 1) you inherently utilise one side as the primary functioning arm for most of your for daily activities, this develops stronger neural muscular control over this particular arm than the other. 2) You are not focusing on equalizing the force output and tension load over both arms. This is often the result of taking (1) for granted. Where one arm is taking a larger tension load than the other, over time, where this is repeated, the arm that sustains higher tension loads will become the stronger arm and will become somewhat larger in size, relative to the other.
You Need To Find A Way To Correct These Imbalances In Training!
Solution: The best way to counteract these imbalances would be to focus on every set and every single rep that you do. Focus on forms and correcting your body positioning and how you execute the movement. This would be the most advantageous for long-term muscle development. However, this is easier said than done.
How Would You Implement This Into Your Workouts?
Critique Every Movement
First off, always be critical and always recorrect any instability in movement. This can be achieved by using mirrors placed in and around the gym to help you observe whether you are executing each exercise using proper form.
The second way to aid you in implementing good form is by training with a partner, using them to assist and critique your form. Obviously, they themselves would need to understand what good form should look like. Using a training partner to assist can at times work better than a mirror as they can judge whether you are fully contracting a muscle or contracting one, more than its corresponding muscle. If you are training say, rear delts, get your training partner to place their thumbs on each rear delt to judge whether you are contracting each side equally.
Don’t Go Too Heavy!
Third, is two lighten up the weight load that you lift. Focus first on achieving a full contraction of the muscle. Once you can control the movement fully and achieve a strong full contraction, then it may be beneficial to increase the resistance. What this method does is to help improve your mind-muscle connection.
It will help you to understand how to achieve optimal muscle contraction for that exercise. You can then apply the same technique and form when you increase the resistance – critiquing yourself when necessary.
Dumbbells Over Barbells
The fourth method to improve balance in your muscle development would be to utilise dumbbells over barbell type exercises. This would force each arm to manage equal resistance, however, it must be stated that even if resistance is proportioned equally to each arm, this doesn’t necessarily mean each arm will distribute and control tension in the same way. One arm could displace tension differently than the other. Remember, that still comes down to focusing and achieving the same level and intensity of the muscle contraction over both sides equally.
Utilise Single-Side Exercises
The final method, that’s commonly used is to utilise single-side exercises, such as training one arm at a time. By training one arm at a time you can essentially isoloate one side of the body and focus and manipulate the tension to achieve maximum muscle contraction over the target muscle. This method may also prevent imbalances due to muscle fatigue. If you are training both sides of the body, one side may fatigue before the other, causing an incorrect form to be used to complete the movement in the weaker side.
You can build the weaker side up in an approach that best promotes its development rather than utilising the same action as the stronger side, which can control weight load disproportionally and may also have a higher fatigue threshold.
Another benefit is that single-sided exercises will target your core muscles since your abs will be called into action to mainatin balance throughout the movement. It is very common to lose proper form when perfoming single-sided exercises, so you will have to keep check of it throughout the exercise.
Work Lagging Body Parts Early
This is perhaps one of the best methods to increase strength and size as long as the other methods specified above are fulfilled also. Follow the “Priority Principle” – you should train your lagging body parts first in a workout when you are still fresh and have not succumbed to fatigue.