So many of us want to work on our stronger muscles during exercise that we start to neglect the weaker muscles. Most of us will have our favourite exercises that we like to perform week in, week out but how many of you work on your weaknesses? Back muscles and leg muscles seem to be neglected often while chest and bicep muscles are keen areas to concentrate on, especially in males who want to build a bigger and stronger physique! I have mentioned before in previous articles that you need to work on your weaknesses to improve your physique, but in particular I advise you do two things. Strengthen your weaker muscles and lengthen your stronger ones.
Imbalances In Your Body
If you concentrate on your strong points and neglect your weaknesses it will result in imbalances within your body. This could mean tightness, soreness, injuries and poor posture. Exercising your muscles is great for your body and the benefits are also great, however if you are constantly lifting heavy weights and do not analyse your physique, you could be doing more harm than good.
Each and every time you put your muscles through an intense workout you break the muscle fibres so that they can grow back stronger, leaner and fuller. Did you know that the more tension you place on your muscles without stretching them will mean shorter muscles. When they shorten their range of movement also shortens and it could lead to further problems. The shorter your muscles become due to increased tension and constant work on them could lead to injuries and poor posture. Take for instance your chest muscles. If you constantly bench press without working your back muscles your chest muscles (pectoral major in particular) will shorten and as a consequence will bring your shoulders forward. What happens when your shoulders come forward? Well the chest muscles have a limited range of movement, poor posture originates and you may find your back muscles begin to compensate. This all happens in time and isn't something that happens overnight. But what is important to note here is that your muscles do try to go back to their original, lengthened state after a workout. However, after years of training they can't go back to the original position they were in when you first started. Here is the solution...
First Things First
If you are serious about changing your physique and want to improve it have a look at yourself in the mirror. Take photos of your physique looking straight ahead in the mirror and side on. Check your posture and have a look if your shoulders roll forward? Do you train your back muscles enough? What about your lower half? Do you suffer with back pain? Do you work your quadriceps (thigh) muscles more than your hamstrings (rear thigh)? Critique your physique in a positive way so that you can work on your weaknesses to improve it.
Lengthen Your Muscles
Stretch, stretch and stretch some more!! So you know what muscles are tighter than others in your body and you know you need to lengthen them. The best way to do this is to stretch these muscles regularly. You can still work them in your exercise routines, but now you need to pay close attention to them. So stretching is going to be your best solution. Seeing a sports massage therapist will also help lengthen tight muscles. Spend approximately 15-20 seconds stretching each muscle you think is tight in the body and do it 2-3 times daily.
Strengthen Your Muscles
Once you know what muscles you need to lengthen it is important you strengthen the opposing ones. For example, chest and back muscles that need stretching out could mean your back muscles, upper back in particular need strengthening and so on. Strengthen them by using free weights and machines to target the designated area. By doing this you will (over time) correct imbalances within your physique and limit yourself of injuries.
Remember as you get older the elasticity in your muscles isn't so supple and it will be a longer process if you leave it. Make sure you start correcting these problems now so that you can continue to exercise and not have niggles holding you back. Address imbalances, correct them and improve your physique by lengthening the tight muscles and strengthening your weak ones. Good luck :)