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Strong Muscular Imbalance PLEASE Help


Hey guys I have been trying to overcome what i think is scapular winging for a while now. I have throwed in more rear delt work and trying to stretch more often. I noticed that my right side on bench is always struggling and feel awkward. I have noticed a lot of grinding in popping in shoulders but it has gotten better ever since I have been to cobras and stretching a little more.

From this photo it looks like my left side is actually winged but it feels better. HOwever I am completely lost on what to do . You can see that my left side is way underdeveloped compared to my right side. Besides the trap (maybe its just tight?) but I dont know whether to stop pushing exercises and if i should only stick to unilateral movements for my back in order to get the left side to catch up?

I have been trying to do more cobras and recently started doing scap pushups. I went to a physical therapist a while back and basicaaly just told me to stretch chest and teres. Did not help. Any advice would be GREATLY appreciated. I have lost all excitement in gym because things dont feel " normal". Thanks again.


You're definitely going to need to lay off chest pressing. Once you start fixing the issue and it feels a little better, don't immediately jump back into hammering chest presses. It will likely be an ongoing process for you to maintain balance when you get your scapulae and shoulders figured out.

Buy a band from elitefts, either a monster mini or just a mini, and do a lot of band pull aparts. Also include in your workouts lee boyce raises, face pulls, external rotations, reverse flys, and scarecrows. Snatch grip high pulls are excellent to build these muscles once they're functioning properly.

Your goal is gain flexibility in your chest and front delts, while gaining strength and contractibility in your rear delts and lower traps. Also, be aware and do not let your upper traps or lats take over on the exercises.

If it were me, I would focus on pull aparts for scapular retraction and lee boyce raises for scapular depression. Don't be afraid to do pull aparts every day.

Do these stretches:

These are lee boyce raises:

Understand this article:



So dont even try to maintain my strength for pressing?


Kakarat - it's obvious your intentions are good and you put some thought into your comments here.

However, there are some things I respectfully question.

Point 1:

Why do you think the OP needs to stretch the posterior capsule as explained in the DeFranco video? He explains in the vid that it helped him quite a bit with his shoulders.

However, NOT everyone who suffers from shoulder problems also suffer from tight shoulder capsule issues. More mobility in this area can actually be a waste of time or create more harm depending on the individual.

I do not believe this movement has a sufficient risk/reward ratio on an individual (the OP) who has issues that are not adequately diagnosed.

I do take exception to any trainer that gives this movement as a matter of course. More mobility in the posterior capsule is not something that everyone needs.

Point 2:

Did Lee Boyce actually name that raise after himself...? If he did, he may not realize that others have been prescribing similar movements long before.

This is actually a variation on the Y movement to engage the lower trapezius.

I could be wrong on the source; however, the first time I saw this variation was on a Poliquin article. In that variation, the forehead is actually resting on the arm that is on the bench. This is a BETTER variation because, by resting the head on the arm, the upper traps are not engaged and thereby do NOT interfere with the action of the lower traps (upper traps elevate; lower traps depress). And because the upper traps are so much larger it is imperative that the person doing this movement does as much as possible to take the upper traps out of the equation.

Another reason I'm not crazy about Lee's version is the scap retraction prior to the abduction of the arm. There are better methods to engage/strengthen the scap retractors. And, if the purpose of doing this movement is to better engage the lower traps, the trainee is better off: a) resting the head to better disengage the upper traps; b) have someone possibly tap his lower traps as he does the movement to better build a feel for the muscles engaging.

A common method I employ is to combine autogenic inhibition prior to the movement.

Like I said, if Lee actually did name this movement after himself (I don't read his articles), he's only embarrassing himself.


With regard to the shoulder capsule stretch, I didn't actually think too much into that particular stretch when I recommended he do the stretch routine. I was trusting that DeFranco has a reason for placing that stretch in the routine, and that it is more likely to be helpful to a strong majority of people than it is to be detrimental to them. I've used DeFranco's upper and lower body stretching routines with great success and credit it with a lot of my fixed flexibility issues.

I do however feel that since he has inconsistencies from left to right, that the shoulder capsule stretch could be helpful if he does have an unbalanced distribution of shoulder capsule flexibility.

If you truly think the stretch is detrimental I'd certainly be interested in understanding why. If you'd care to elaborate.

And I don't actually think Lee named the exercise after himself. I believe they're just called Trap 3 Raises. I have a very photographic way of remembering things, and the title of the video of him doing the exercise most likely just got burned into my brain.

Sorry about the confusion with the naming. And I definitely agree that resting the head on the arm would be a better variation.


Personally, I don't see an issue with you doing over head pressing and chest flys while trying to correct the issues you're having. It was only detrimental to my progress when I would do chest pressing, but that's my body, and yours may very well be different. You'll need to guess and check to figure things out about your own body At the end of the day it's a trade off no matter how you decide to approach the problem to achieve the desired balance and flexibility.

You should also get a lacrosse ball so you can work out any kinks in your chest and shoulders.


That's just it. We don't know if the OP's situation is caused by "an unbalanced distribution of shoulder capsule stability."

If the OP needs to work on posterior shoulder mobility, there are safer alternatives such as the cross body stretch.

In addition, the sleeper stretch is problematic for the following reasons:

1) Creating more flexibility where an individual does not necessarily need it. If you've ever worked with individuals who suffer from hyperlaxity, you'll quickly realize that too much of anything poses dangers.

2) The nature of the stretch also places the shoulder in an impingement position. The sleeper stretch very closely resembles the Hawkins-Kennedy, for example. Obviously, this is certainly not what the OP needs.

So the poor risk/reward ratio, as well as the viability of safer alternatives (if posterior shoulder mobility is indeed the case), makes the sleeper stretch something I neither do nor recommend.


I agree with your points. Specifically, I agree doing the stretch with an impinged shoulder would be problematic.


OP also consider that excluding pressing exercises for the time being will allow you to more easily adopt healthier movement patterns when you return to the exercises with a more balanced muscular structure.


caveat -- i don't know anything.

know what i see? a big ropy tendon down the back of the left side of your skull to the upper trap. maybe it is the lighting because you aren't standing all perfectly symmetrical etc but that jumps out at me. your left shoulder is standing heaps higher than your right. there is also a shadow line round the medial part of the scap. looks like the scap is standing out away from your ribs.

looks like your hips are level...

how about your ribs?

could your right side (QL) have shrunk which is pulling down your right rib to your pelvis... i read about that someplace...

i don't know that the left side is looking underdeveloped compared to the right so much as the bones being in a different position...




you are welcome




Isn't the fact that you have uneven shoulders the overarching problem?


Have you looked over the things on mobilitywod.com? I would think some capsular distractions (of the shoulders) using bands and focusing on external and internal rotation ROM may help... Also, I would look for other things that may have caused it. I know this sounds like "functional movement", but I would look at these things:

1) arches on your feet- Are they the same or is one dropped more?
2) Hip ROM
3) Thoracic mobility
4) Neck/ Trap tightness (one looks way more tight, and elevated than the other)

Something caused this problem (obviously) and chances it wasn't your shoulder (that is where the symptoms are manifesting). Fix the underlying issue and manage the symptoms at the same time and you will win.


Thought of strengthening your R) upper trapezius as your R) shoulder looks significantly depressed.
Yes your L) looks especially tight , however this could be compensation.