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Is your body on a sliding scale?

BALANCE: It is common that one side of the body is stronger than the other due to overuse (Photo credit: @jvis.media)

Have you ever noticed when training that sometimes one side feels easier than the other? Or perhaps when you are trying to balance a bar when performing a particular exercise, such as the chest press, one side seems to have more balance and control in comparison to the opposing side.

Most of the time this merely comes down to the lack of isometric and unilateral training. Both types of training methods are used to build strength. Isometric training is when the body is held in a position for a period of time without lengthening the muscles, working on the muscles in a static position. Unilateral training, which is a highly beneficial type of exercise, focuses on each side of the body individually, using single engagement rather than joint engagement.

It is common for one side of the body to be stronger than the other due to overuse. This can lead to muscle fatigue, causing weakness in the body as the force behind the muscle decreases.

This is why when exercising there can be a noticeable difference in strength and power across the body – one feeling a lot easier to perform a lift then the other. It’s time to turn your focus towards these two types of training mechanisms, as it’s important that both sides of our body are equally as strong, flexible and mobile.

So how can we do this? There are so many exercises that target all muscle groups that can be done one at a time. For example, when training shoulders, use dumbbells over barbells, allow the body to work on each shoulder independently, which will result in both shoulders using the same weight, performing the same movement, focusing on building strength individually.

When training legs, it’s very common to instantly approach the squat rack to perform a series of squats where both legs are being used together to engage and drive the weight up. However, there is always one side of the body working harder than the other. Paying close attention to the body’s transition when performing each repetition can identify this. Some of the signs can include a medial or lateral rotation at the foot or knees, a shift in weight bearing on the hips and, most importantly, if muscle soreness or pain is felt more on one side in particular to the other, this will highlight where the load is bared.

Variety in your training programme can eliminate these issues. Simply holding a wall sit, which is a squat leaning against the wall, will aid quadriceps, glutes and core strength. A press up hold will allow the body to build strength in the chest, shoulders and core as well as working on maintaining good form.

It’s important to consistently train in this way in order to even out and build equivalent strength and power across the body.

During exercise begin to think about what you are doing – mind to muscle connectivity. Ensure that each side of your body, whether that is shoulders, biceps or legs, are uniformed in their load or weight bearing movement and the repetitions are evenly distributed. Turn your focus to holds – the period of duration under tension – and take the time to really feel your body as you move. Start to think about the day-to-day activities that you perform – change your leading leg when running or walking up the stairs, your leading arm when picking up a bag – and allow the dominant side to start doing less in order to aid muscle and joint recovery. When both sides of your body are working equally as hard, you can do more, build muscle and joint sustenance, develop power and strength, and prevent injury.

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