T Nation

Seeking Symmetry...Training Thoughts/Protocols

After recently competing at my first bodybuilding competition, I’m laying down the 12 month training/nutrition/supplementation plan to prepare for 2010.

There are a few symmetry issues with my physique that need to be addressed in the lead up to next year, one of which is a lack of symmetry in the ol’ latissumus dorsi’s, namely, my left lat fails to spread with the same width as my right. From a front/rear “relaxed” position, or a front/rear lat spread, it is becoming annoyingly obvious (at least from my perspective…and I understand we’re all hyper-critical of our own physiques, but still, I reckon it’s a genuine issue).

I’ve begun C-Thib’s HSS-100 protocol (regularly use this program as a training meso-cycle) with my back day (Monday) using his HSS-100 Back Width day (from his Back Specialisition Program). This is also a High Carb day for me (although the High Carb nature of the “Getting Unshredded” Diet isn’t nearly as high as I’d appreciate…looking forward to jumping into some genuine C-Thib-like Carbohydrate Cycling numbers in a couple of weeks…), considering it as a weaker muscle group it needs the extra calories to get some hypertrophy happening. In order to specialise the left lat, on my Hamstrings Day (Friday) I’ve included a unilateral left-lat only specific superset to finish the workout:

A1. Cobra Pulldowns (left arm only) 3-4x8-12
A2. Straight Arm Pulldowns (left arm only) 3-4x12

I’ve tied the left lat into the Hamstrings workout for two reasons:

  1. Hamstrings workout is another High Carb day, meaning Left Lat gets two high carb days per week.

  2. The Hamstrings workout includes movements such as Romanian Deadlifts which, at least to some degree, activate and stimulate the lats, leading to a nice warming up and/or “tie-in” effect with the upcoming left lat superset.

Look, I just thought I’d put it out there for any other suggestions, feedback on the suggested approach, etc.

As I begin what will hopefully be a journey into another 5 years or so of competitive bodybuilding, developing a knowledge of strategies to fix imbalances will certainly come in handy.

Thoughts?

Did you use exclusively mixed-grip deads during your formative years? if so, this aint something you can expect to fix so quickly with a few unilateral pulldowns.

if its a posing/flexing issue or a slight unevenness as far as development is concerned, thats a different matter entirely.

[quote]Arnold23 wrote:
a lack of symmetry in the ol’ latissumus dorsi’s, namely, my left lat fails to spread with the same width as my right. From a front/rear “relaxed” position, or a front/rear lat spread, it is becoming annoyingly obvious (at least from my perspective…and I understand we’re all hyper-critical of our own physiques, but still, I reckon it’s a genuine issue).
Thoughts?[/quote]

With genuine imbalances it is very risky to add work onto the underdeveloped side.

This more than often leads to further imbalance, and can make matters worse.

With such issues i use the following methods successfully:

-Train weaker side first, then simply match the reps with the stronger side.
-Train bi-laterally BUT each side independent of the other.
-Train fixed bilaterally BUT focus on the contraction and effort of the weaker muscle only.

What i am about to say is often hotly contested by the a muscle only grows or doesn’t gang;
It is possible to have an imbalance that you cannot fix with a certain exercise.

For example it is possible for a slightly underdeveloped left Bicep to require a certain move or set of moves in order to get it to match the right side.
For example moves with the elbow to the anterior as opposed to posterior…

So in your case, how does the imbalance present itself - will wide, very vertical chins/pulldowns hit that area more or will you need say a close grip or V-Bar pulldown to hit those fibres?

JJ

Thanks for the thoughts guys…

In response to Tribunaldude, yeah, there was a degree of mixed grip deads being carried out whence laying the foundations, but have moved over the last few years to pulling with straps. And whatever the underlying issue, in terms of posing, the left lat doesn’t “flare” as wide as the right, requiring a higher degree of concentration to pull it out on par with the right.

Even then, the width still doesn’t quite correlate.

J-J, I’ve trained left side first ever since I started training, never lifting more reps with the right side. I think I need to progress away from Barbell work and move to Dumbbells, really trying to awaken some mind-muscle connection on that left side.

Look, the left lat isn’t really that inadequate, but it’s just not on par with the right.

I was scouring articles yesterday and came across C-Thib’s “You Don’t know Jack about Back” and I’m thinking of incorporating the Decline DB Row alongside the DB Row to the hip as my key movements, but still within the parameters of HSS-100.

Just quickly J-J, what’s the premise behind not adding work to the underdeveloped side?

[quote]tribunaldude wrote:
Did you use exclusively mixed-grip deads during your formative years? if so, this aint something you can expect to fix so quickly with a few unilateral pulldowns.

if its a posing/flexing issue or a slight unevenness as far as development is concerned, thats a different matter entirely.

[/quote]

Shit… now I am still a newb, but my left lat flares more in width than my right one when I flex it. I have been deadlifting with the same mixed grip for about 6 months gaining a lot of strength due to being a beginner(185lbs for 5 to 405lbs for a double), where my right hand is supinated and the left one pronated. Could this be the cause? I am actually slightly stronger in my right lat on unilateral movements like dumbbell rows, but my left side is a tad wider.

Or it could simply just be that the muscle is shaped a bit different on the right side than the left.

Just quickly - Building size and shape disproportionately to the other side.

This is an excellent point that i wish i had mentioned myself - lets just pretend all the good points are mine ok?

As i said, this is absolutely viable and is much more common that people think… its just those with ‘ugly’ bdies tend to either not get on stage or if they do they only compete in the north in england… :wink:

lol

Muscular imbalances aren’t always from simple size issues. Natural insertion points of muscles, muscle belly lengths and shapes in general, and asymmetrical skeletal structure can all play a role in muscular imbalances. For myself, one side of the body doesn’t look like the other because some of the things I mentioned above are different from one side to the other. Is it immediately noticeable? Not that much, but I can see my own differences.

Alright, so how about this for a new thread idea…

“Fixing Muscular Imbalances”

Training strategies we, as those striving for symmetrically optimal physiques, can implement.

We can consider the following:

  • Strategies for specific muscles and/or muscle groups
  • Specific exercises depending on the imbalance
  • How to incorporate strategy into weekly split, or even within specific periodisation phase
  • Genetic considerations that may inhibit such symmetry

Who’s going to get the ball rolling?

First imblanace to consider (with slightly selfish motives of course):
Achieving Symmetry in the Latissimus Dorsi’s

Aren’t we already talking about all that?

And as for how to incorporate into a split… isn’t that kinda asking for someone to give you EVERYTHING?

No worries J-J, just thought it’d be an “enjoyable” thread, compiling ideas of how to deal with symmetry issues throughout the whole body’s musculature.

With the Split idea, no, it wouldn’t be asking someone to give me EVERYTHING, it would be asking people to put forth ideas of how they would tie muscular imbalance training into their weekly training, as the post states. Similar to what I did, suggesting I tie left lat work into my Hamstrings workout, outlined reasons why, and gave a brief example of how it might be executed.

To be honest J-J, I’m not here asking for everything. Having trained for 10 years, managed a Corporate Gym for five, been Head S&C Coach over that time frame, now Sport Coordinator and Head of Physical Education Department at a High School in Australia and having recently competed at the State Bodybuilding Championships, I’ve got plenty of knowledge to run with.

All I was asking mate, was to assemble ideas amongst like-minded individuals in regards to what I would consider a key area of Bodybuilding, that is, muscular imbalances.

I don’t want to come across agitated in your post, just feel the need to defend my motives in this thread. Not asking for everything, just asking for some engaging and intelligent dialogue in regards to the issue at hand.

If you’ve got nothing more to add to the thread, cool, then no need to post anymore.

You have not only come across agitated, but unnecessarily touchy and estrogenic.

Jesus - are you aware you just wrote your professional biography in reply to a simple, non-aggressive 2 line sentence? Talk about self-concious…

I do have a lot more to add actually, but i don’t think i will - best of luck coach.