Weight lifting/Muscle development questions

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Fitz
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Weight lifting/Muscle development questions

Post by Fitz » Fri Feb 24, 2006 3:38 pm

Hi,

This is my first post on this site. I'm basically a beginner at lifting and I have a couple of questions. I recently purchased a set of the Bowflex Selectech adjustable dumbbells, which are really nice by the way.

I noticed that my right traps muscle is noticeably smaller than my left. Should I work the right one harder to let it "catch up"? Should I not work the left side for a while? I'd like to develop both sides but obviously I want them to be proportional so I'm not sure of the best approach.

Along the same lines, my right arm is marginally stronger than my left. Should I hold back a little on the right arm or will the left arm eventually catch up by lifting the same amount of weight as the right?

Sorry if these questions are elementary but I would like some advice from some of you who have been at this for a while.

Thanks!!!!

Fitz


Ryan A
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Post by Ryan A » Fri Feb 24, 2006 5:37 pm

You should just use dumbbells and always work them the same. It shouldnt take long for the weak side to catch up. If you are doing one side at a time, just start with your weak side first and make sure you get equal reps.

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Post by VoK » Mon Feb 27, 2006 11:08 pm

Ryan A,

I personally have heard different from trainers, and I am confused. I will attempt to repeat what they said to me in hopes that you can clarify this issue.

If your left arm is weaker than your right arm, training as if both arms are equal is not good. The left arm will fail sooner in excercises, leading to subpar form and possible injury. The right arm will be limited by the left arm, making it much harder to gain. Training them equally is not optimal.

In fact, if you have muscle imbalances, you should be focusing on correcting those balances. For example, if your left bicep is weaker than your right bicep, you should be putting additional work into your left bicep to strengthen it. Similar to how people rehabilitate from injury, focusing on your weakpoints to make them stronger is necessary.

Hoister

Post by Hoister » Tue Feb 28, 2006 5:26 pm

Similar to how people rehabilitate from injury, focusing on your weakpoints to make them stronger is necessary.
You are talking about two different things here - muscle imbalance and injury. Muscle imbalance may also be a percieved thing. You have to be careful here.

What i have done to bring "one side" up to par with the other is what i think Ryan A was suggesting.

I would perform the movement (sets/reps) with the weak side first and count the amount of sets/reps done with that and match that with the other side. Once both sides were equal in sets/reps, i would return to a "normal" pattern of progression.

Example - Bicep curl - left arm is weaker. (left gets 3 sets of 5 reps, right gets 3 sets of 8 reps. Desired = 3 sets of 8 each)

Keep working the left at whatever it can do until it achieves the same desired sets / reps as the right. Until that is acheived, work the right side to the same sets/reps as the left. Once they are equal, return to a normal pattern of progression.

Just my .02 based on experience,
good luck.

-Hoister.

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Post by Ryan A » Tue Feb 28, 2006 7:46 pm

Fitz:

Well actually I meant to work them the same literally.

IE, if you can only get 3x5 reps with the left then only do 3x5 with the right.

VoK,

Certainly bad form is part of failure. If you are using dumbbells it is somewhat hard to compensate the left arm with the right arm as they are doing independent work for the most part( there are exceptions of course). If you are using bilateral exercises, and you start to favor one side, then you are done and you stop.

You DONT want the right arm to get stronger because you are trying to make them equal. If you train both of them as you say it, this means training them both so they make the same relative gains. Well, this is bad since the right arm started out ahead, so it will always be ahead and that does not solve anything.

If you add work to the weaker part then that will require more recovery time for that side. Chances are, this will allow the right side to recover faster since it was already stronger in the first place and on top of that, now it is getting more rest, so now the left arm is relatively weaker than it started because it doesnt get a chance to recover fully compared to the right. A perfect example of this is that I am right handed and for some things, my right hand fails first. The reason? I use my right hand more throughout the day and while lifting to load plates and such, so it is getting extra work. So give mroe rest, my right hand is stronger, but during workouts at the end of workouts, it tires the fastest.

Certainly as you say, for rehab situations this is different because youa re talking about a massive loss of functional strength in one side. The muscle imbalances we seem to be talking about here are nowhere near as extreme. if you can not perform a bilateral exercise AT ALL, then it is time to bring up the injured side so that you can. For example a knee injury and you cant do a bodyweight squat. You need to isolate the injured knee and rebuild the muscles, say post surgery or something. As soon as you start successfully performing bilateral exercises you should start strengthening both sides unilaterally to insure that the injured side does not surpass the good side; this happens and it can often cause an injury to the good side. E.G. you pull a hamstring and start favoring your good side which causes it to be more fatigued daily. You rehab the other side and dont do anythign for the right side. The left side might actually be stronger for some movements and can result in the right side getting injured following the initial left sided injury.

This is just my opinion, please tell me if you see any problems with what I say. There is no fix all and I am sure that Fitz idea of working towards 3x8 for both sides is fine, but in the end you will reach a point where 3x8 does little for the right side an dyou will have to endure not making gains on the right until the left has caught up.


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Follow up question

Post by Fitz » Wed Mar 01, 2006 9:09 am

Thanks for the discussion guys. That clears things up for me a little more.
In reality, I guess, what I have to do is hold back the right arm for a little while until the left arm catches up. But now I understand how it should be done.

As for my trapezius muscles though, it might be a little more complicated than that. When I work those muscles, I really don't notice any difference in strength on either side. It's just that the right side is not as developed as the left and I have no idea why. So what should I do to compensate for the right side when a difference in strength between the two is not an issue?

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Old topic New

Post by frogfroggy » Wed Sep 10, 2008 4:12 pm

Woah topic from 2006!

Anyways before opening a new thread I am just going to continue this thread. First of all I do not have strength imbalance, I guess. But I have a size issue, meaning my left side (shoulder, back, arms, chest) is a bigger than the right side. Only the right forehand side is bigger than the left. I try to train both sides equally.

Maybe its my workout?

Pushup 3x15 with dumbbells as support
Row 3x20
Upright row 3x12
Military press 3x15

Everything with dumbbells. Or is my the size imbalance due to geneitcs?

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Re: Old topic New

Post by Stephen Johnson » Wed Sep 10, 2008 11:18 pm

frogfroggy wrote:
Pushup 3x15 with dumbbells as support
Row 3x20
Upright row 3x12
Military press 3x15
No leg work?

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Post by Jungledoc » Thu Sep 11, 2008 2:07 am

Why is the size difference important to you? Appearance? Or are you worried that it indicates a bigger problem?

Yeah, I also wondered if that is all there is to your program, or if you were just discussing your "upper body" routine.

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Post by Rik-Blades » Thu Sep 11, 2008 4:15 pm

frogfroggy wrote:Maybe its my workout?

Pushup 3x15 with dumbbells as support
Row 3x20
Upright row 3x12
Military press 3x15

Everything with dumbbells.
Do you alway's use just dumbbells? If so, this could simply be a form problem. If you are left handed, your form is likely to be better with the left and vice versa for righthanded. Get someone to watch you and examine your form, or do it yourself in a mirror. Swap to barbell for example.
Or is my the size imbalance due to geneitcs?
Unlikely. Genetics will normally dictate 'big chest' or 'Huge forearms' and 'small abs' but not large one side and not the other.

There are exceptions, if you had 'Polio' or some other muscle wasting disease, but that would be obvious if it was the case.

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Post by frogfroggy » Fri Sep 12, 2008 1:47 pm

Oh for the time being, cause the gyms here in my town are expensive, I workout at home. For legs I do squats(bodyweight) and I jog/play soccer often. The dumbbells are also crappy ones only 5kg each.....
But in a month or so my dorm will finish building a small gym. So I hope getting access to barbells and correct the problem.

@Rik-Blades I mostly do the routine in front of the mirror, only pushups I do not do it. And barbells not yet. I am right-handed but I have the feeling that my left is a little stronger. But the weird thing is that my left side tires out much faster than the right.

@Jungledoc Yes I want it to be even for aesthetic values. But lateley when I stretch I realized that my body form is uneven, somehow crooked .... I have a light scoliosis

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Post by lightningsix » Fri Sep 12, 2008 2:19 pm

You can use things around the house of considerable weight to squat with or do some calf raises or something. Just improvise.

Also if you don't have much equipment you can benefit a lot off of things like push ups, pull/chin ups.

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Post by Rik-Blades » Fri Sep 12, 2008 2:50 pm

frogfroggy wrote: .... I have a light scoliosis
lightningsix wrote:You can use things around the house of considerable weight to squat with or do some calf raises or something. Just improvise.
Have you consulted a doctor? Squats and other heavy loads on the spine would be a VERY bad idea!

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Post by Jungledoc » Fri Sep 12, 2008 5:45 pm

Rik-Blades wrote:
frogfroggy wrote: .... I have a light scoliosis
lightningsix wrote:You can use things around the house of considerable weight to squat with or do some calf raises or something. Just improvise.
Have you consulted a doctor? Squats and other heavy loads on the spine would be a VERY bad idea!
"Light scoliosis" is probably no big deal. You should proceed normally, with the usual cautions about starting light, adding slowly, etc., using good ab technique to stabilize the L-spine.

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Post by frogfroggy » Sat Sep 13, 2008 5:22 am

My doc said that I should be careful of course, but because he knows that I love sports. He said that I should gradually build back muscles in order to support/stabilize the spine. But I am being careful thanks for your concern.

Well then to sum things up I should just keep on training and as you guys said, watch the form, gradually load the kilos etc.
Thanks everyone, I will drop by if I have any "new" problems!
Take care

Thank you


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