Es­tab­lish Your Dom­i­nance

Im­prove your ath­letic ca­pac­ity as well as your sym­me­try with this unique take on non-dom­i­nantside train­ing.

Muscle & Performance - - Contents - By Lara Mc­glashan, MFA, CPT

Ina per­fect world, all would be equal — Democrats and Repub­li­cans would play nice, women would get paid the same as men, and pi would round out to a nice, ter­mi­nal num­ber. But such is not the way of the world — or your body. You al­most al­ways have one side that is stronger and more dom­i­nant than the other, ei­ther nat­u­rally or be­cause of sport-spe­cific adap­ta­tions. Think of golf, ten­nis and base­ball and you’ll catch our drift. This dom­i­nance also can man­i­fest in the gym: If you’re right-handed, you’re likely stronger on your right side, and the limbs and mus­cles on that side be­come more de­vel­oped as a re­sult.

“A struc­tural im­bal­ance from too much dom­i­nance of one side can lead to an injury,” says David Weck, creator of the BOSU bal­ance trainer and founder of the Weck Method (weck­method .com). “An­other thing that can hap­pen is the non-dom­i­nant side can es­sen­tially go along for the ride and get less de­vel­oped than the dom­i­nant side.” In a dumbbell shoul­der press, for ex­am­ple, your dom­i­nant side can press more weight; so, faced with a bar­bell, the dom­i­nant side nat­u­rally takes on more of the load, not be­cause you con­sciously ask it to, but sim­ply be­cause it’s stronger.

Coun­ter­in­tu­itive Mea­sures

Greater con­trol of your non-dom­i­nant side means im­proved sports per­for­mance since both sides of your body can bet­ter work to­gether as one unit, and ed­u­cat­ing both sides to ex­e­cute a strength move­ment prop­erly will mean big­ger re­turns in the gym.

But rather than push­ing the lim­its of the non-dom­i­nant side — nail­ing it with heavy weight for weeks on end to catch it up — Weck rec­om­mends a dif­fer­ent strat­egy. “You never want to de­crease your at­ten­tion to the dom­i­nant side — in fact, you want to pay closer at­ten­tion to why the dom­i­nant side feels stronger and more co­or­di­nated,” he says. “Iso­late the ac­tions of both the right and left sides to feel the dis­crep­an­cies and seek to bal­ance the abil­i­ties of both sides.”

Back to the dumbbell shoul­der press: If your right side per­forms bet­ter than your left, do an ex­er­cise with the right side first to get a con­scious feel for why this is. “No­tice the stages when you are the strong­est, the most bal­anced and the most pow­er­ful,” says Weck. Then when you per­form that same move with your non-dom­i­nant side, try to mimic the move­ments and strengths you ex­pe­ri­enced on the dom­i­nant side. “You are in essence able to ‘down­load’ the in­tel­li­gence of the dom­i­nant side and ‘pro­gram’ it into the non­dom­i­nant side,” says Weck. “By switch­ing back and forth with this kind of mind­ful­ness you can im­prove the non-dom­i­nant side much quicker.”

Test Run

Try this tech­nique for your­self: Grab a re­bound­ing medicine ball (4 to 6 pounds) and stand three to five feet in front of a wall. Take the ball in your dom­i­nant hand and stand with your non­dom­i­nant foot for­ward. Per­form five sin­gle-handed throws against the wall with your dom­i­nant hand, catch­ing the ball on the re­bound with both hands. No­tice the move­ment pat­terns you use to throw and catch the ball on your dom­i­nant side. Now switch sides, hold­ing the ball in your non-dom­i­nant hand and putting your dom­i­nant foot for­ward. Per­form the same throw­ing ac­tion, try­ing to mimic the move­ments you just per­formed us­ing your dom­i­nant arm. Do three rounds, al­ter­nat­ing back and forth, and see if you can im­prove your weaker side a bit.

Solve im­bal­ances in your physique by pay­ing greater at­ten­tion to what your dom­i­nant side is do­ing dur­ing ex­er­cises.

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