Weak Side Training

Despite the fact that most people look symmetrical while looking into the mirror, it is learned quickly when you start strength training that you probably have one side that is weaker than the other. In my 12+ years of training people, I have not come across someone who is perfectly even on both sides of their body. This is a completely normal circumstance, that even the most experienced lifters have to deal with. As humans, we will never be perfectly symmetrical with our strength. So, the question is, how do we overcome this?

Just because we are not completely symmetrical with our strength, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do everything we can to balance out our strength on both sides. It can be frustrating to be able to lift a certain amount of weight on one side and have to drop to a lighter weight for our weaker side. Should you just accept the fact that one side is stronger than the other? Or should you train to try and overcome the imbalance? In an effort to balance the body out, and increase your strength throughout your whole body, here is my suggestion as to how to train with that weaker side, to try and balance it out with the other side.

Don’t Become Weaker, just to appease your weak side.

In my experience, a lot of people will just pick the lighter weight that their weak side can handle, and do it with both sides. They don’t want to become more imbalanced, so this seems like the logical play. However, in my opinion, you are just allowing your weaker side to dictate how strong the rest of your body will get. My solution: train with higher volume on your weak side. Here is what that looks like.

Let’s take a single-arm overhead press for example. This is an exercise where a lot of people feel a lot stronger on one side over the other. For this example, let’s say that the rep range is 10 repetitions on each arm. If you pick up a 35-pound dumbbell, and press it overhead for 10 reps with your stronger arm, but can only get 6 reps on your weak arm, don’t just leave it at that. You will want to start your set with your weak arm, do your 6 reps, switch to your strong arm and do your 10 reps, and then go back to your weak arm to finish the set. You will want to grab a weight in which you can handle 10 reps, so in this example, it may be a 25-pound dumbbell and bang out 10 reps. If you do this for every set, you will be increasing your total volume on the weak side by about 50%, with 1/3 of the reps being with the heavier weight. Over time you will increase your strength in your weaker side, while also getting stronger and maintaining the higher weight on your strong side.

The next time you find yourself in the gym feeling imbalanced with the amount of weight that you are using, give this strategy a shot for a few weeks and see how much stronger your weak side will get!

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