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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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Beach Bummed


Competitive bodybuilders usually train for symmetry and proportion in an effort to build an aesthetically pleasing physique. There are many individuals who go to the gym to build up their beach muscles, disregarding symmetry and proportion in designing their training programs. Instead of training opposing muscle groups equally, they sometimes ignore the muscles they cannot see (back, hamstrings, calves, quads) and focus on the muscles they admire in the mirror everyday (chest, biceps, shoulders and abs). Although training specific muscle groups more than others can create an unbalanced-looking physique, disregarding a muscle group over time can potentially lead to other problems that may subject the body to injury.

One common mistake with regard to balanced training is performing an unbalanced training program between the chest and back muscles. The amount of time, energy, effort, volume and frequency between the agonist chest muscles and the antagonists back muscles may not be equal, or even close. A simple example would be an athlete who performs 4 sets os four exercises for the chest (for a total number of 16 sets) and does only 3 sets of three exercises for the back (for a total number of 9 working sets). Following this unbalanced training regime over time will result in back muscles much weaker than the chest muscles. This imbalance may lead to a slightly kyphotic posture (forward/rounded shoulders) that can potentially cause shoulder problems because of the faulty posture. In addition to the stronger chest muscles (compared to the back muscles) pullong the shoulders forward, inadequate stretching of the chest musculature can further contribute to this problem.

For some people, training legs consists of quads and that is it. The disregard their hamstrings while training only the quadriceps. Exercises such as the leg extensions, hack squats and front squats place a large amount of emphasis on the quads. Although these exercises are great you need to do an equal amount of hamstring work with leg curls and romanian deadlifts to stress both muscle groups. Distributing attention evenly to both muscle groups can give you healthier knees and lower back, as well as fewer hamstring strains because of an unbalanced hamstring-to-quad strength ration.

A less obvious training error woth regard to balanced training concerns the shoulders. Overhead shoulder press, incline bench press, flat bench press and other chest and shoulder pressing movements are critical for maximal muscle development. However, these exercises focus on the major muscle groups such as the deltoids, pectoralis major, pectoralis minor and other muscles known as prime movers. Often ignored in a training regime is the training or isolation of the smaller muscle groups in the shoulder known as the rotator cuff (the supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor and subscapularis) that are critical in keeping the upper arm in the socket of the shoulder. Failure to train these smaller muscles groups, two of which are not even visible can create an imbalance between the large prime movers and small stabilisers. This lack of imbalance in strength may result in bursts of bursitis, tendinitis or even rotator cuff tears in the shoulder joint.


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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.