When working towards building muscle, athletes generally focus on the big muscles they can see, neglecting smaller ones they might not even know exist. This can have an undesired effect: muscle imbalances slowing your muscle gains.
These imbalances and weaknesses become apparent when you injure yourself, develop a postural imbalance, or are unable to perform a lift.
Jeremy Ethier, a NASM and FMS certified trainer, goes over the three most common muscle imbalances that mainstream routines tend to create, why it matters, and how to correct them.
3 crucial muscle imbalances slowing your muscle gains
1 – Lower Traps
These are the lower fibres of your trapezius muscle. While they’re not the most aesthetic muscles, they play an important role in scapular stability, Ethier explains. “They help you properly move and rotate the scapula,” he says.
This can affect overhead pressing exercises or lead to shoulder injury.
2 – Hamstrings
The hamstrings then to be weaker and are generally overpowered by the quadriceps. This can be detrimental because a weak hamstring to quadricep strength ration is a risk factor for hamstring injury and knee pain.
Weak hamstrings can also become a limiting factor in various lifts and can limit your performance in other athletic activities such as sprinting.
3 – Shoulder External Rotators
The external rotators of your shoulder are made up from the supraspinatus, infraspinatus and teres minor muscles. It is crucial not to overlook these muscles as they are mainly responsible for externally rotating the arm.
“The problem is that the vast majority of the movements that you do in the gym train these internal rotators and leave the all-important external rotators neglected,” says Ethier.
This can lead to a muscle imbalance in the shoulder joint, which in turn can reduce stability of key lifts that require the shoulders and can eventually lead to shoulder impingement.
- seated press: Arthur Edelmans on Unsplash