A weaker muscle that makes a particular exercise challenging is a great way to learn more about our body. Imbalances are our bodies way of telling us that there seems to be some overcompensation in a particular area. This can lead to injury or miss alignment, that may trigger us to experience the onset of another muscular issue.
For many years, I’ve been battling very weak hamstrings. Even though I can pull a lot of weight, my hamstrings have not caught up with the load. What happens is when I attempt to lift the bar off the ground (when performing a deadlift) my hamstrings stall from the floor lift, up towards the actual lift. Even though I’m not lifting heavyweight, it’s still a huge stretch for me at attempting this.
I was on a great training regime trying hard to sort out the problem. Then covid struck its ugly head, and that transition towards no weight training, then training again and back to no training. The inconsistencies of using the gym took it’s the toll on my leg development. Therefore, the weakest exercise I have is my deadlift.
Below I will touch on some brilliant strategies that will help increase the strength and endurance of weaker link muscle groups. Keeping this in mind when you are constructing your training regime is very important.
Four ways to transform weaker muscle groups into powerhouses
- Train weaker muscles often. Most people who train don’t bother aiming to create a balance between certain muscle groups. If you have a weaker link, it’s necessary to train this group often and in various ways. Sacrifice some of the time you spend on powerhouse muscles and swap it for a weaker group. You will quickly see some great results.
- Think of prioritization. Weaker muscle groups tend to become lethargic more often. Train them during the start of your session, and as often as possible. I will always work the most intensive hamstring exercise first, and perhaps a quad exercise after. That’s to ensure I’m allowing some recovery for weaker links. They can’t always take the load and intensity as your strong points.
- Unilateral training. When I have a bit of time on my hands (weekend training), I like to take a bit more time and use unilateral movements. What I do is train each leg separately. It’s only performed on specific machines or with particular exercises. Think of leg extensions, leg press, single-leg Romanian deadlifts and leg curls. I’m using legs as an example here, based on my imbalances. You may only handle minimal amounts of loaded weight, but do not dismiss it for ego. These are a great alternative when you want to target specifics, and you must be patient. It does take time, but consistency is critical.
- Stretch well. I’m guilty of always telling myself I don’t have time for stretching. This is a poor excuse because hamstrings develop tightness, especially when we’ve been sitting down for an extended period. Even simple stretches will only take up a minimal of 10 minutes. Follow through with a self-massage using lovely essential oils to relax & release tension in the area. This part of the process alone is enjoyable.
I’m thrilled to have touched on these points as I know I can do a lot better in the gym if I follow these simple strategies. We may be short on time and exhausted due to work and family commitments, but it’s essential to look after our bodies and treat them well. Weakness is muscle crying out for a little bit more love to reach its full potential.