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Balanced Training Recommendations


1) Perform an equal number of exercises with the same relative intensity between opposing muscle groups (eg, back and chest, hamstrings and quads, biceps and triceps). If you already have a deficit, try to do more sets on the weaker/disregarded bodyaprt until you have achieved better balance. Then train bodyparts equally.
2) To bring your training into balance, focus on isolation (single-joint) exercises while also modifying the compound movements that target the various muscle groups. For example some exercises, such as the squat and leg press, are generally regarded as quadriceps moves, even though they absolutely involve the hamstrings and glutes. However, by altering foot placement (wider, higher on platforms etc.) you can shift the emphasis to the less involved hamstrings.
3) If you have an existing deficit between opposing muscle groups, spend some extra time stretching the stronger muscle group and strengthening the weaker one.
4) If you find a specific bodypart to be particularly stubborn at responding to an adequate training stimulus, consider adding an extra day (or two) specifically dedicated to working the stubborn bodypart until it catches on.

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Barbell Bent-over Row and the Single-arm Dumbbell Version


The barbell bent-over row is my favourite exercise for back, but should I also be doing the single-arm dumbbell version.

The barbell row is a lot like the bench press because you are in a fixed position where both sides have to work hard to keep the movements smooth. Dumbbells give one side a chance to stretch a bit more, and the unfixed position lets you adjust your body to potentially move slightly more weight per side. With a wide-grip the barbell row also hits the upper lats more directly; the one-arm row targets the lower lats better.


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One-Sided Gains


Here are four exercises which will help you to reap the benefits of unilateral training.

Chest: One-Arm Dumbbell Press
You have to balance yourself, so the press becomes more challenging. It requires a lot of concentration and may be slower, depending on the weight you are using.

Back: Single-Arm Lat Pulldown
Grasp the handle with an underhand grip and bring it straight down in front of your face. The movement is effective because you get a great stretch on the lats at the top. It is better than a two-handed pulldown.

Shoulders: Single-Arm Machine Press
You are going over your head in what is usually an unstable movement, so you will lift significantly more weight with the added control the machine offers. Doing this exercise with one hand will give you a really good burn.

Legs: Smith-Machine Bulgarian Squat
With one foot on a flat bench behind you, squat on one leg. This technique gives a deep stretch to the glutes of the working leg and grows your legs in a way dual-leg training can’t.


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What Is The Benefit of Doing The Leg Press With One Leg?


It is a good way to shock your muscles into new growth, as it forces each leg to adjust to tackling the weight on its own, resulting in slightly different neural response. You will also get a better stretch in each leg, and that extra stress on the muscle can result in additional growth.


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The Basics


Don’t persist with exercises, routines or methods that do not help you. If your training has not yielded any progress over the last two months, it is unlikely top yield any progress over the next two months. Make changes!

Training failures are valuable learning experiences that can help you to succeed with subsequent efforts. What could you have done differently that would have improved the outcome? What did you learn that you can put to good use next time? If you approach your training failures and setbacks with a positive attitude, you will use them to increase your chance of success in the future.

Use your gym time wisely. Follow brief but hard training, use exercises suited to you, and strive to add a little more weight every week or two to each exercise. Use a balance programme that includes cardio and stretching. Even if you train well, if you don’t satisfy all the components of recuperation you will not be able to make much, if any progress.

It is amazing how many gym-goers and athletes are negligent with their nutrition and sleep. Everyday you must eat well and sleep well if you want to optimise your recuperation. Do not undermine your training by cutting corners of the gym.