Why you Should be Comfortable Training Asymmetrically

I have no problems whatsoever giving an athlete or client a 2:1 or even 3:1 ratio of sets for left versus right side training.

Yes, you read that right. It all starts with how the body is naturally asymmetrical.

If you’d rather watch than read:

 

I have no problems whatsoever giving an athlete or client a 2:1 or even 3:1 ratio of sets for left versus right side training.

Yes, you read that right. It all starts with how the body is naturally asymmetrical.

If you train a dysfunctional and compensatory asymmetrically body symmetrically, you aren’t going to get very far.

COMMON LEFT VERSUS RIGHT SIDE IMBALANCES IN PERFORMANCE
Left Side

Due to the typical forward orientation of the left pelvis, the femur generally is in an externally rotated position. This leaves the left pelvis and leg in an extended, “exploded” state that it cannot get out of.

It is oriented in a position of propulsion in the gait cycle where we push off with pronation and the big toe. These muscles are all generally overactive:

  • Gluteus maximus pushing the pelvis forward in space and externally rotating the femur
  • Posterior fibers of the gluteus medius abducting the pelvis
  • Quads/hip flexors pulling the pelvis forward, keeping the left side in a propulsion pattern

That is why so many athletes feel more comfortable jumping off their left leg. It is already in an “exploded” state to push off of.

Right Side

The right side is the inverse of the left. It is in a “loading” phase of gait where the pelvis and femur are posteriorly and internally rotated and transitioning to the stance phase of gait.

The muscles that are overactive are:

  • Adductors pulling the center of mass to the right side
  • Anterior fibers of the gluteus medius internally rotating the hip and femur
  • Obliques that pull the ribcage down and pelvis posteriorly
  • (Sometimes) Hamstring pulling the pelvis posteriorly

So essentially, the muscles that are over-active on the left are under-active on the right and vice versa.

That’s why I see so many people shift more into their right hip in bilateral lower body exercises. Their center of mass is being pulled to the dominant right side where they are stronger and more able to hip shift.

THE PROBLEM

The right side is stronger and the left side is better able to propel off of.

My goal: Get them strong on their left side and able to explode off their right.

If the objective assessments I run on a client determine a dramatic left side weakness, I have no issues giving them more unilateral strength development on the left and more single leg plyometric work on their right.

Again, training asymmetrically is advantageous if the circumstances call for it. I do not do this blindly. There needs to be context and a rational thought progression.

For example: I will give a 3:1 ratio of wall-supported split squats, where I am having the client feel their left adductor, gluteus medius, and obliques.

Why would I give them an equal share on the right side where those muscles are already strong. If I did, I wouldn’t be assisting them in restoring a more neutral pelvic orientation that can alternate hip shifting.

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