The Basics Of Building Strength And Proportionate Muscles

Time to beef up your weak side and pay attention the muscles you've neglected.

Photo: Pixabay

Due to over-training in one area, or focusing too much on your favourite workouts, there's a possibility that your fitness training is unbalanced. This could make you unproportionate in terms of muscle development. To balance things out, you need to beef up your weak side and pay attention the muscles you've neglected.

Build Up Your Weak Side

Training the weaker side of your body to carry its share of the weight is one of the most effective ways to increase overall strength. To see how your left and right sides compare, test yourself with exercises that work each side individually: biceps curls, single-arm rows for the back, incline dumbbell bench presses for the chest, and overhead presses for the shoulders.

For the lower-body, try single leg-presses, leg curls, and leg extensions. Do each exercise with a moderate weight and compare how many repetitions it takes each side to reach fatigue. Then use these exercises in your regular workout and load up your weak side. If your weak side is only a few reps short, add reps to that side’s set. But if it’s 8 to 10 reps short, do the same number of repetitions but use 5 to 10 pounds more weight on the weak side. 

Get Stronger Through Cross-Education

When you’re lifting weights and you’re not getting results as fast as you’d like, give one of your arms a rest. Using a trick that rehabilitation specialists call “cross-education,” you may be able to build bigger muscles quicker by lifting with one side of your body one day and the other side the next.

Yale researchers found that if you exercised, say, your right index finger, your left one would also get stronger. They don’t exactly know what causes the muscle growth, but they found that cross-education exploits the spinal-cord reflex and leads to faster strength gains than conventional training. By exercising alternating sides, you can lift every day without taking a day off to rest. Using dumbbells and machines, follow your routine using only your right arm and right leg. Next day, repeat using your left side, and so on. Be sure to use lighter than normal weights so you’re not lifting off balance.

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