Most people have a more dominant arm or leg compared to the other.
Where they can either push out an extra few reps with one arm or lift a heavier weight on the opposing side.
This can be down to many factors such as if you have a manual job you may use one arm more than the other.
The strange thing is, in most cases, the non-dominant side of your body tends to be that little stronger.
Maybe, it is from overuse of the other side.
So, the question is, should you push both arms to failure, even if it means working one arm more than the other?
Which in turn means gaining more muscle and strength on one side.
We’re going to discuss pushing opposing muscles to failure when one side is stronger than the other, and give you the best advice when weight lifting.
We will also give preventative measures and ways to help correct muscle imbalances.
Surely, you can do more reps on your dominant arm if you’re pushing both arms to failure?
Let’s take a look…
The goal for many is to gain muscle, build strength and mass.
Defining certain body parts to make yourself looked ripped is desirable, as well as increasing muscle mass.
So if you can get one limb there quicker do you go for it?
The simple answer is: no.
There are many disadvantages to training a body part more than the other.
In this example, your aim should be to get both arms at the same level.
Where you can lift an equal amount for the same amount of reps in both arms.
The quicker you can get both arms symmetrical the better, in our opinion.
This should help to keep your form on point and your gains equal.
You risk muscle imbalance.
Many beginners may notice that one arm is stronger than the other when lifting, the quicker you notice the quicker you can correct it and gain equal muscle mass and strength.
Muscle imbalance is where one side of an opposing muscle is stronger than the other, leading to one side becoming stronger and tighter, and the other becoming longer and looser (weaker).
This means that the stronger muscles will put your body out of position and your whole body will make adjustments to compensate.
In time, this will put a strain on that joint, stressing the nerves around the joint and resulting in pain.
If your body does manage to re-adjust itself to ease the pain it is experiencing, then this will increase the risk of other muscles becoming imbalanced.
The cycle continues and can worsen as it does…
A smallish problem like this can result in distant areas of your body becoming affected. Eventually, it can lead to a neuro-muscular-skeletal problem.
Postural problems can arise in many different ways such as lower back pain, shoulder impingement and rotator cuff tendonitis, headaches, neck pain and trapped nerves.
Prevention of Muscle Imbalance
Fortunately, muscle balances and postural dysfunctions can be corrected.
But to avoid reaching the stage, prevention is the best measurement you can take.
Try to strengthen the weaker muscle to match the opposing muscle.
That means, do not push an extra rep out on your stronger arm.
Work at a pace where you eventually have the same level of strength in each arm.
By balancing out your muscles your body’s alignment and movement control with stay intact.
How to Fix Muscle Imbalances
Because muscle balances may be developed during a weightlifting routine, it is essential to try and prevent them.
But if it is too late then you can correct them; focus on mobilising the joints and releasing short muscles and soft tissues.
As discussed previously, strengthening the weaker muscles will also help correct the body’s alignment.
You can also help fix muscle imbalance by identifying and adjusting the lifestyle and other factors that may have contributed to the problem in the first place.
Increasing the weekly amount of reps on the weaker side can help towards strengthening the muscle. Increasing it by around 25% is good enough to start making a difference.
The main focus is to get that weaker muscle to the same level as the opposing, so developing a workout routine to prioritise the muscle group will help.\
You can also work on your muscle endurance to improve your lifting ability of your stronger and weaker arm. For more on Muscle Endurance, check out this guide from Ask The Trainer.
Remember, it won’t correct itself overnight.
Hard work and a proper training plan will help towards balancing out your muscles.
Don’t overtrain the muscles either, you don’t want to injure, exhaust or strain yourself.
If you can avoid getting yourself into this situation in the first place, then do so.
Do not push both arms to failure if one is stronger than the other.
Make sure your workouts are equal and the muscles are being worked equally.
Preventing muscle imbalances will help to avoid injuries.
Therefore it is vital to pay attention to your weightlifting sessions.