Weight and Resistance Training - Muscle imbalance




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ennay
03-11-2008, 12:30 PM
I actually have 2 questions but only time for 1 right now

My right arm used to be slightly stronger than my left...but it wasnt enough of a difference to worry about. but now after 4 years of hauling my babies around with my left arm so I could work with my right hand, my left arm is significantly stronger. Maybe 25%?

It is most noticible with dumbell bicep curls. I always fail on the right side early.

When I was fairly balanced I didnt worry about it, I just ended the set when I failed and figured they would even out with time, but now the difference is bugging me.

What do you think..add ab extra "right arm " set? Or just be patient.


Depalma
03-11-2008, 12:45 PM
Strange that you haven't had any progress solving the imbalance doing the same amount of work for each arm. Your thinking was right.

Let's try to prioritize that weak side a bit more in a balanced workout before resorting to an unbalanced amount of work. You say you are failing early, so perhaps you should drop the weight to allow yourself to complete the sets/reps. Choose the weight based on your weaker side. It will seem too easy for your dominant side, but that is OK. The goal needs to be to complete the required work with your weak side. Also, if you are doing both arms at the same time or in an alternating fashion, I would do all the reps for a set with the weaker side first, then do the reps for the stronger side. If you don't complete the reps with the weak side for any reason, make sure you do only the same number of complete reps with your strong side just as you have been doing. You are priortizing the weaker side and giving it the benefit of the extra intensity you have to give by being a bit fresher.

If that doesn't appear to help, you can start throwing one additional set at the end for the weak side, but just monitor it closely and don't overshoot and end up making it the dominant side.

midwife
03-11-2008, 02:43 PM
Heh. Great post. My left arm is stronger than my right as well and I have noticed a difference in fatigue with lifting. Thanks for the conversation, guys.


ennay
03-11-2008, 03:47 PM
I was posting really quickly this morning. What I am doing now is 15lb curls...which is what my right arm can do. I keep getting stuck on moving my reps up. Most exercises I add 1 rep per set each time but with bicep curls I usually have to repeat the same # of reps several workouts before I successfully add an extra rep on all sets. But my left arm is just hanging out not working that hard.

Just working evenly is what I have always done but the difference is SO noticeable now. It is even noticeable when I am doing things like squats and lunges...just how the right side fatigues with holding the weight faster than the left side.

I tried carrying my son on my right side but I feel handicapped that way!

It is weird how having kids changes you... I used to have seriously weak shoulders...overhead press was hard. Then I had 2 kids and did yoga with full inversions through both pregnancies (heaven!). Elbow stand with good form as you gain 50 lbs really is an awesome shoulder strengthener!

Depalma
03-11-2008, 05:37 PM
OK, I think I understand. You are not so much failing early as you are plateaud on the right side.

Have you tried increasing weight and dropping reps? That's one way to break a plateau. Working in the strength range trains the nervous system to recruit additional muscle fibers that are now dormant. Then you can move back up to the hypertrophy range and with the strength gain you should be able to make progress again as you know have additional muscle fibers that are being recruited which have room to grow. You may have maxed out the growth potential of the fibers that you are currently recruiting.

Another problem may be a sticking point in the movement. Are you getting hung up at a certain point in the lift. If so, then doing some "21s" might help. "21s" are where you do the bottom range of the lift (both concentric and eccentric) 7 times, then upper portion of the lift 7 times, and then the full lift 7 times. If you are stuck on the top portion, you can even do the top portion of the lift first. If your problem is a sticking point, this should help you bust through it.

One final idea may be to increase overall strength by working on the eccentric strength. Bicep curls is one movement where you can easily do negatives without the help of a training partner. Use a 20 or even 25 lb dumbell. Use your free arm to help the working arm lift on the concentric portion of the lift and then lower slow and under control with just the working arm.

Mel
03-11-2008, 07:52 PM
ennay- I think depalma covered most of the answers, but I have a question; you said it's even affecting squats and lunges. Is it affecting your running gait? Have you checked the wear pattern on your shoes? If so, I'd suggest finding out what is really causing this. If your hips are misaligned you could end up in a fair amount of pain.

I have a chiropractor/physical therapist who I would go to, not sure what to suggest if you don't know someone. Do you run or train with a group who might know a good kinesthiologist/chiropractor/ PT?

Mel

elisa822
03-11-2008, 08:52 PM
Depalma - what is the point of 21's? My one little tiny session with a PT included those and I enjoyed them but wasn't sure why someone would choose those. Or is the only reason what you said above?

Thanks!

:D

Depalma
03-11-2008, 09:44 PM
When I used to do more isolated arm work, I would often use them just I suggested to Ennay, to bust through a sticking point. For myself, I would often get stock on the bottom portion of the bicep curl. If was able to push through that, the top part was fairly easy to complete.

Now, if I decide to do some isolation, I'll usually just do one set of 21's or I'll go "down the rack" and do one burn-out set. It's a quick and convenient way to hit and run.

However, they can be used as just another variation of the bicep curl.

Plus, to me, they are a bit more enjoyable than just doing a regular curl. It's something different.

ennay
03-11-2008, 10:27 PM
ennay- I think depalma covered most of the answers, but I have a question; you said it's even affecting squats and lunges. Is it affecting your running gait? Have you checked the wear pattern on your shoes? If so, I'd suggest finding out what is really causing this. If your hips are misaligned you could end up in a fair amount of pain.

I have a chiropractor/physical therapist who I would go to, not sure what to suggest if you don't know someone. Do you run or train with a group who might know a good kinesthiologist/chiropractor/ PT?

Mel

No, what I mean by affecting squats and lunges is my arms & hands get tired holding the weight. That is still my limiting factor still for lunges for sure. I wasnt having much luck with barbell lunges so I went back to dumbells for that and my right arm is just fatiguing first. I am so WEAK. I lost almost all my grip strength when I had nerve impingement when I was pg with dd and couldnt hold weight or put weight on my hands. My left side has built back up through passive use, but my right side is still spaghetti noodles.

Depalma...I might try that 21. Just from memory I am thinking it is the upper half or the transition through 90 that is the issue.

Fessing up time... I realized why it is pissing me off now when I was writing out my workout card for thursday. I have extremely limited gym time - ds will only tolerate the childcare for so long. So I do EVERYthing in supersets. push,pull, leg. (I rearrange the order periodically) Each superset was designed in general to be what took the least amount of equipment changes & what was reasonably near by. So my bicep superset was overhead press, bicep, squat Chosen because I used 15 lbs for both bicep and overhead press. ...Actually I was using 12 lbs for both, but there is only ONE set of 12 lbs in the entire gym and on thursdays the cardiopump instructor takes them in to her class for the whole freaking hour (rude!)

Anyway, I have really noticed that my bicep curls arent progressing because I maxed out on the overhead presses and moved to the 20 lbs...although those are a bit rough. I need 18. If it werent for that I might not have noticed. :p I moved bicep first a couple weeks ago regardless of my current order, just to give it a chance but still weaker.