Exercises to Improve Muscle Imbalences

Exercises for Correcting Muscle Imbalances in the Lower Body

Single Leg RDL with Kettlebell

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This is a great exercise to correct muscle imbalances in your lower body, with the most common imbalance being quad dominance. This means the quads are stronger as there is a tendency to bend at the knees rather than hinge at the hips (to lean forward at the hips while maintaining a neutral spine). In order the correct this imbalance, you need to target a group of muscles called your posterior chain. This involves the muscles of your lower leg and ankle, hamstrings, glutes, and spine extensors. Your deep core stabilisers are also working hard to maintain alignment. The added benefit of this is an improved posture as it brings you more upright, while improving your balance and coordination.

It is performed like so:

1.       Stand on one leg with the kettlebell in the opposite hand to the leg on the floor.

2.       Hinge forward, being careful not to bend your bank as you do so.

3.       Lean forward as far as you can to feel a good stretch in your hamstring on the supporting leg.

4.       Engage your glutes and hamstring to return yourself to the starting position.

Tips:

I like to keep these to a slow and controlled tempo. Perform 3 sets of 12 reps, to a temp of 4/1/1/1 (four seconds down, one second pause, one second up, one second pause at the top). Do these one or two times per week. Choose a challenging weight for 12 reps. If you can’t complete 12 reps please choose a lighter weight next time. Keep a note of strength imbalances between left and right, and choose the weight according to your weakest side. Progress them both evenly.  

Though this is an advanced exercise, it can be broken down depending on your ability so talk to your coach to see how you can incorporate this into your routine.

 

Exercises for Correcting Muscle Imbalances in the Upper Body

Single Arm DB Chest Press/Single Arm Overhead Press

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Like the Single Leg RDL featured in our other post, these single arm exercises are great at identifying weaknesses between the left and right sides of the body.

The single arm DB chest press is a great way to identify and work on weaknesses in the chest and shoulders. This exercise also activates the core stabilisers on the contralateral side to stop you falling off the bench.

It is performed like so:

1.       Lie on a bench with feet hip-width apart.

2.       Hold DB directly above you (90° to your body). Lower DB down to a full range of motion.

3.       Hold free hand out in front of you for support. If you have to move your feet wider when performing this exercise drop the weight a bit. Fight the urge to widen your base of support as the purpose of this exercise is to make your body feel this way.

Like the one above, the single arm overhead press is a great way to isolate one side of the body and activate the core stabilisers. 

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How to do it:

1.       Stand with feet hip-width apart.

2.       Press DB/KB overhead and then return to start position.

As with the chest press above the contralateral side will activate, but there may be an urge to hike your hip for those last few reps. Resist this as much as possible, instead have a rest and then finish the set. You will only get the full benefit of this exercise when you keep the body aligned.

Tips:

I like to keep these to a slow and controlled tempo. Perform 3 sets of 12 reps, to a temp of 4/1/1/1 (four seconds down, one second pause, one second up, one second pause at the top). Do these one or two times per week. Choose a challenging weight for 12 reps. If you can’t complete 12 reps please choose a lighter weight next time. Keep a note of strength imbalances between left and right, and choose the weight according to your weakest side. Progress them both evenly.  

Talk to your coach to see how you can incorporate these into your routine.