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Evening Up Your Weak Side

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Almost all of us have one side that isn't as strong as the other. Usually this is our dominant (writing) side for the upper body and, interestingly enough, the opposite side for your lower body. This is because we tend to cross-brace with our opposite leg for our working arm.

At any rate, it's not usually much of an issue until you start working out in the gym. Then, the difference can be frustrating, particularly when you look in the mirror as you progress and see more developed muscles on one side. It can also be confusing as far as how to go about dealing with this in terms of weight lifting.

I have employed a method that, while not exactly rocket science, works. And it works safely.

There are two plans of attack, here, and they depend on if you are working both limbs unilaterally (individually) or bilaterally (together).

Let's take unilaterally, or individual, moves first. This is a pretty strait-forward approach: Do whatever the intended move is with the weaker side first, then match it on your stronger side. So, for instance, if you are able to do 15 reps of bicep curls with 10 pounds, you would move that same 10 pound weight to your weaker arm (in my case, this would be the left) and do exactly 15 reps- no more, no less. Even sets where you fall short of your desired number of reps, you keep it the same. For instance, if I were targeting 15 reps in my set but only got 13 reps out with my left arm, I would move that same weight over to my right arm and do the exact same number of reps I did with my left arm. To help me remember how many I did on the first arm, I would count from 13 down to 1. (Yes, my memory can be that bad!) Eventually you will get to where the left arm is about equal with the right. Sometimes, you can even get it stronger.

In the case of bilateral moves, there are two different approaches depending on whether you are lifting two different weights with both arms at the same time (like a dumbbell press), or a single weight with both limbs (like a leg press). In the former case (the dumbbell press), you would apply the same principle you did with the unilateral move and simply work both arms until the weaker arm gets as tired as you are targeting. In the latter case (the leg press), you would do what my former trainer Ruben Sandoval of Fit To Be in Your Kitchen advised: "Pay attention to the weak side and your strong side will take care of itself". So since my right side is weaker than my left on the leg press, I'm going to put ALL of my concentration into pushing with my right leg. The left leg instinctively presses on it's own. If it's a barbell bent row, I'm going to concentrate on pulling up with my weaker left side. The right side doesn't need me to think about it, since it's been my dominant side my whole life.

Simple little strategies that can make a BIG difference in making your body symmetrical. Tell me what you think!
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    emoticon for sharing. I was wondering about that and thinking maybe the opposite duuuh, but your way sounds like it may also prevent help to prevent risk. i know you're not making that claim but it may help.
    1578 days ago
    Great strategies Nancy! You always provide helpful advice.
    1578 days ago
    1579 days ago
    I'm not weightlifting right now. But I will definitely employ these strategies when I do. I mostly did upper body in the past. I use free weights to do basic presses, curls, and raises.

    Thanks for the heads-up! This is something that shouldn't be overlooked.

    1579 days ago

    Comment edited on: 12/29/2013 2:50:17 PM
    I do this too and it does help. Also, I sometimes try to do normal day to day tasks with my weaker side, such as carrying heavy grocery bags. Weird thing is, now I can open tight jars more easily with my weak hand than I can with my dominant hand.
    1579 days ago
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