I’ve done thousands of screens and evaluations over my 12 plus years as a physical therapist and fitness professional. Out of all of these, there hasn’t been a single one where the client/patient didn’t exhibit some form of imbalance, or movement impairment that we could improve.
And that includes the professional athletes! Actually, it’s sometimes shocking how out of whack they can be and still perform at such a high level.
What this tells me is that when you honestly look at your own fitness/performance level, it’s highly unlikely that you (or I) have been gifted with perfect movement or have conditioned ourselves to the point where we don’t also have some weaknesses, inflexibilities and coordination issues.
Therefore, there is always some physical component that we should be trying to improve in some manner. After all, where there is imbalance, there is opportunity for injury.
While this is often known, I find that it’s a step that many people over look in their program design. After this article, you’ll have a few simple tricks to take with you for the rest of your “working-out life” that will put you light years ahead of 90% of the other folks in the gym.
5 Simple Ways to Increase Balance in Your Workouts
When I speak of balance, I am not just referring to your ability to NOT fall down. While that can be an issue for some of you, that’s not the balance we are going to address here.
I’m talking about things like your right arm being a lot stronger than your left in certain lifts, or your ability to rotate much farther in one direction than the other, or the fact that you can bench press 500lbs, but can’t do one real pull-up.
These types of imbalances are issues that everyone has when they first step into the gym, but rarely address with any real plan of attack.
That’s not going to be you any more.
1. IDENTIFY YOUR IMBALANCES
If you don’t know what they are, you can’t fix them. Without having to go through a full blown evaluation and assessment, use common sense and simply pay attention during your workout.
Most of us have a dominant side, so usually the other arm/leg is going to be weaker, but that’s not always the case, so simply make a note if you see a difference between strength or motion on the right and left side on any exercise.
2. START WITH THE WEAKER SIDE
Once you know that there is an imbalance, the first adjustment you need to make is that every time you do that exercise, you should start with the weaker side first.
So if your lunges suck when you start with your left leg, then always start with your left leg. This way every time you start a set, you are going in “freshest” on the weak side. By doing this, your body and brain have more energy and focus to be able to improve that motion over time.
3. LET YOUR WEAK SIDE DETERMINE THE WEIGHT AND NUMBER OF REPS
The goal here is to create more balance between the weak and strong side. Our goal is to not have a weak and strong side, but to have 2 strong sides!
Thus, you NEVER want to lift a heavier weight or do more reps on your strong side. This will only make the strength, coordination, and flexibility gap larger, which is counterproductive to our goal.
So for example, if you are doing a rotator cuff exercise and can only manage perfect form on the left shoulder for 6 reps at 10lbs, then you will only do 6 reps of 10lbs on the right side, too (even though you might be able to get 12 reps at that weight).
4. DO MORE WITH THE WEAK SIDE
If there is a significant weakness from side to side (or 2 opposing motions like pushing vs pulling) then sometimes I will do more work with the weak side to speed up the process.
There are different ways to do this. One would be to add an extra set of that exercise for the weak side. Another way is to simply add an extra rep or 2 per set on the weak side, so you end up doing the equivalent of another set on that side.
I often use the extra reps when I find an imbalance between 2 opposing motions or muscle groups.
For instance, if you are much stronger with your quads than you are with your hamstrings I might have you do 4-6 reps on SQUATS (a quad/pushing dominant exercise) paired up with 6-8 DEADLIFTS (a hamstring/pulling dominant exercise).
5. SWING BOTH WAYS
Get your mind out of the gutter! I know you laughed a little when you read that heading (or at least I did). But I’m talking about your golf club, not your sexual preference.
Since this is a golf site, this definitely applies to YOU. You should swing a club in the opposite direction; often. My recommendation is 20 swings a day. I have no research to back this number; it’s just a way to get you to do it.
The benefits of swinging lefty, if you are a right-handed golfer, are a plenty. Some of which include greater overall range of motion, improved muscle control, etc., but for the purpose here, just think of it as another way to balance yourself out.
IT’S NOT ROCKET SCIENCE
As is the case with most of our posts, these things don’t have to be super sophisticated techniques; you just have to be aware of the situation and how to tackle it.
Now that you have this knowledge, use it. There is no excuse for you to continue to struggle with simple imbalances that can lead to lack of performance and injury.
To recap, here are the steps:
1. Identify your imbalances
2. Start with the weaker side
3. Let your weak side determine the weight and # of reps
4. Do more on the weak side
5. Swing both ways
If you keep these principles and actions in mind for every program you create, you are ahead of the game and you’re setting yourself up for a much more rewarding and pain free game of golf!
If you have any other suggestions that you think may help the other readers when it comes to this topic, let us know in the comments section below. We are always open to more great information.
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