Body imbalances can be the cause of great pains but you can in some cases also see these imbalances in the muscles visually. A huge percentage of soreness complaints can be attributed to imbalanced muscle size and strength as the culprit. These are usually not as easily seen by the untrained eyes.
A sure-fire way to avoid muscle imbalances (strength as well) is to break down your exercises so that you include single limb training. Machines are great and I love barbells but in order to avoid breeding lopsided physique or stresses to the body structure you want to make sure the training is balanced and both sides work for themselves.
Many times barbell training is favored because you can lift more by having the strong side compensate for the weaker. I have no issues with use barbell work or machine work to get to higher weights but you need to then progress that weight to single limb work with dumbbells and machines which are broken down into left and right separate functioning sides.
Not only does this represent TRUE strength, it will help you avoid dominant muscle groups which eventually become the cause of neck, back, hip, knee or other joint issues.
Incorporate a week each month at least, for balance so you can still work your split how you please but change exercise choices toward dumbbell training. Luckily dumbbell training is widely used but without thought to this structure.
Opt for dumbbell chest press, shoulder presses, mid back rows, dumbbell curls, kickbacks, or you can use one arm on the chest press machine with a lighter weight, then do the other arm. This opens up more options and gives you the chance to maximize your balancing work.
More great choices where you can ‘single out’ your exercises are:
Leg Press, leg Extensions, hamstring curls, calve raises, inner thigh, outer thigh, shoulder presses, pec dec, middle back row, bicep curls, tricep pushdowns and rotator cuffs. This will increase your awareness of the imbalances that exist when you feel them for yourself comparatively from left to right in strength and function. Many times when we do notice imbalances we are working or doing something we cannot stop so we compensate and continue the best we can to complete the task regardless of the damages caused by working in this state.
Some of the most common imbalances among us are hamstrings, shoulders, chest and arms. This can happen to those who do it from repetitive jobs using the same side for the job each time. Sometimes it is impossible to switch sides in a person’s work so they end up having to focus most of their gym time on correcting these overuse issues.
Conditioning with stretches daily helps to iron out imbalances which occur from tighter muscles. You want to train your muscles when warm so 5-10 mins of cardio is a great way to loosen for stretch. Stretch them to prepare them for the work and they will work in better unison with this short pre weight training ritual helping fight the imbalance battle.