We train hard to look fantastic.
Your training is designed not only to make sure you are healthier but also to make sure you look fantastic in that pair of jeans. You train to make sure that your costume fits snugly around your beach body.(at least I do!)
And when we have put in the effort our rewards are spectacular… but sometimes we create another problem.
If you are the kind of person who has been training consistently but your results may have slowed, I’m pretty sure you have slipped into this bad habit.
You spend a lot of time exercising the muscles you love, and you completely neglect the ones you don’t.
Raise your hand if you are guilty of this…
My favourite was always doing chest and I would spend up to three sessions a week cranking out sets for bench press.
After a while my press was doing well and I enjoyed the odd stare when me and my training partner would really stack the weights onto the bar.
Unfortunately it didn’t last.
I was friendly with one of the serious trainers who had been keeping an eye out on us, with a smirk he tapped me on the shoulder and asked me to follow him.
I followed…its wise to listen to guys who are twice your size and made of muscle!
He took me over to the side of the gym and quietly said to me,”I see you cranking out your bench press each week, and your weights are coming on nicely, lets see how many pull ups you can do…”
I hated working my back…and I hated pull ups.
The first one wasn’t so bad, but it went downhill very quickly after that.
I managed three and a half pull ups, I was the color of a turnip and my lats had gone into spasm…
Yes, he did laugh at me…a lot
When he finished he showed me something else.
The increase in strength in my chest and the lack of strength in my back had started to pull my shoulders forward into a hunched position.
My gym was contributing to bad posture and my hard work was starting to make me look worse.
If you are not balancing out your workout, you are setting yourself up for injuries and perhaps like me, your gym may moving you away from your beach body.
There’s even a nick name for those of us who just work our upper body and leave the legs alone, a tank top trainer.
You’ve seen one of those guys who has shoulders like Atlas and legs like spaghetti.
We all have favorite body parts, and by favoring them we do our body a disservice.
So how correct these imbalances quickly?
Well first you need to figure out what you have been neglecting.
Well lets start off with your strength ratio between your biceps and triceps, this should be at a ratio of 1:1
The way you can measure this is by doing a one rep max (1RM) - this is one repetition of the exercise at the most weight you can safely lift.
So do a 1RM for your biceps by doing a dumbbell curl and then compare that to a dumbbell triceps extension.
You should be able to do the same weight.
Then with the shoulder, muscles that push should be balanced by muscles that pull at a ratio of 2:3.
So to test this do a 1RM comparing dumbbell bench press(push) to a dumbbell bent over row(pull).
Onto the legs.
The squat is the king of exercises for good reason and is a good measure of the balance of an individual.
Men should work towards being able to squat twice their body weight while women should aim at 1.5 times their body weight.
NB: If this is the first time you have done a squat DO NOT start at this weight, start with a fairly light weight and work your way up slowy
Last muscles to check are your hamstrings and your quadriceps.
To check your hamstrings you can do leg curls while your quadriceps can be tested doing leg extensions.
The ratio of leg curl to leg extensions should be around 4:5.
This assessment is the bare minimum and by no means is exhaustive.
Once you have figured out where your weaknesses lie, you should have a good idea on what you need to do to improve them.
The easiest way to do this is to make sure that you train your weakest parts twice a week and your favorites only once.
Then do the assessment again at the end of the month and track your progress.
I can’t remember who said it, but I remember the quote - “The exercises you hate the most always give you the best results…”
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