Symmetry

  • imaxim

    Posts: 94

    Jan 29, 2007 10:40 PM GMT
    Those of you who have achieved good symmetry in the chest, what are some of your best techniques for increasing fullness on your less dominant side? I've heard lots of different things, and even asked my trainer, but he wasn't much help on this one. It would be especially helpful to hear anything that has made a visible change for you or someone you were training or working out with.
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    Jan 30, 2007 1:20 AM GMT
    Which part of your chest is the less dominate?

    From what I've studied and learned so far (and referencing Frederick Delavier):

    To accentuate the middle part of the pec, use exercises that bring the arms to the front and middle part of the body, i.e. flys or pec machines. The triceps don't get as much action, but you can target the inside better.

    To accentuate more of the upper pec, the clavicular head, use an incline bench press, either dumbbells or bar.

    To shape the sides, use a wider grip.

    To hit the lower part, use a decline bench.

    For my routines, I rotate through combinations of fly movements and presses, as well as superset pushups (again, either flat floor pushups, inclines or declines, or all three). You can really push the work with pushup supersets.

    Hope this helps. If you need anything more specific, such as rep ranges, hit me up.
  • imaxim

    Posts: 94

    Jan 30, 2007 5:18 PM GMT
    Thanks for the response.

    I was actually more curious about right vs. left. Because my right side is more dominant, there has always been more strength and fullness there than on the left. It's most visible toward the bottom of the pec. From looking at pictures around here, this seems to be very common.

    One home remedy I've heard used is uneven pushups, but since I'm going for size, I suspect it may be counterproductive to do a lot of high-rep bodyweight exercises... and I'm also a bit lost on how many of those to do.

    I've heard decline bench presses are prone to causing shoulder problems, so I've generally avoided them. Have you heard of any injuries on these?
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    Jan 31, 2007 8:43 PM GMT
    Ah, right vs. left.

    I haven't read or heard anything yet about decline bench work. Not to say it isn't out there.

    As for working toward symmetry, I would use dumbbells on a decline bench. If the left side isn't up to par, give it a few more reps than the right side. When you've reached your repetition range, hold the right side and keep pumping with the left. With dumbbells, your dominant side cannot help the weaker side by taking over the load. They both have to work. Now, make your left side work a little more, so it can catch up.

    Some gyms have bench machines with seperated handles, so you can focus a little more attention on one side. Just make sure you don't forget about the right side. It needs action as well.

    Genetics and how we favor sides of the body play a big role in this. If you play sports and use the right side of your body more (for hitting, catching, etc.), getting both sides to look similar may be a huge pain in the ass.

    Good luck. ;)
  • imaxim

    Posts: 94

    Feb 05, 2007 8:01 AM GMT
    Horsepower, just wanted to say thanks for the helpful replies. Some of those techniques I've heard of but was skeptical to try until hearing them repeated. I will give it a shot.

    Dumbbells on a decline bench... oh, my aching arms! They need to invent a decline bench with a rack for dumbbells to rest on between sets...
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    Feb 05, 2007 6:00 PM GMT
    i would not have believed this if i had not seen it work personally
    but the right kind of massage can "balance" your body energies and cause the muscle that has its enegy restricted catch up the the normally functioning one.
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    Feb 05, 2007 6:14 PM GMT
    Another option is to do a few extra reps on the weaker side. Obviously you can't do this with all exercises, but on a pec deck, or with a free weight dumbell, you can do a handful of extra reps.

    I did something similar with shoulders after I noticed my right side was slightly bigger than my left. It takes a while, but with a few extra reps on the left over time, they evened out nicely.
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    Feb 05, 2007 6:25 PM GMT
    I need one more upper chest exercise..
    I already do: Incline Bench Press
    Incline Dumbbell Press
    Incline Dumbell Flyes

    It's the muscle called the Claricular portion....It's the muscle part just next to the deltoid and the upper upper part of the pectoral major....it's connected to the clavical.

    I know it sounds picky...but i can't gain any size there...and never feel a burn when I work it out.
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    Feb 05, 2007 7:26 PM GMT
    When I’m doing an exercise that uses just one arm at a time. I always make sure I lift with my left arm first (my weaker arm) then match the number of reps I’ve done with my right. I find this tends to stop my right side getting bigger than the left.
    Sorry if that was a bit obvious.
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    Feb 08, 2007 4:34 AM GMT
    Leanathl:
    If I'm guessing correctly, the muscle you want to target might be worked by doing the dumbell flyes using a different grip: palms facing down instead of palms facing each other. Sorry if I'm way off.

    minidriver:
    Thanks for the tip. It might seem obvious but it hasn't crossed my mind to do that before.
  • canuckdave

    Posts: 85

    Feb 12, 2007 4:06 AM GMT
    You could try substituting dumbells for a barbell in any of the exercises you do for your chest. (flat bech, incline bench, declkine bench). That way one side of your chest does not overcompensate for the other. Each side of your chest must work independantly. Dumbells also have the additional benefit of bringing local stabilizer muscles in to play that a barbell does not.
  • DIAKADI_SF

    Posts: 21

    Feb 12, 2007 5:47 AM GMT
    yes, try uneven pushups- try them on a medball. don't worry about high rep work not getting you bigger. it's about making you stronger. As long as you are getting sore, you are building muscle, it doesn't have to be low rep, heavy weight. And if you have shoulder issues, you shouldn't be lifting heavy anyway for chest.

    Focus on dumbell work/cable work, avoid the bar for a month (as your left side will then kick in)

    i rarely do decline press. i just adjust my pushup height (feet on a high bench, or reverse it)

    you can do single DB work, starting with the weaker side or try doing dumbell press w/alternating sides. Hold both in bottom position, then do reps with one side. finish those, and then start other side, while first side is holding at bottom position. for the next 3 sets (4 total), switch the starting side.
  • imaxim

    Posts: 94

    Feb 12, 2007 11:48 PM GMT
    Thanks for all the great replies!

    SFTRAINER76, I will definitely try your suggestion about avoiding the bar and lifting the dumbbells one arm at a time. Cables I'm not too fond of because I'm never certain exactly where to stand, but it sure does beat picking up 60 pound dumbbells off of the floor before ever set... guess I'll have to try both.

    One possibly stupid question about the uneven pushups: where does the ball go? Under my feet, abdomen, or under the [stronger] arm? Also, when I do the dumbbells and/or cables, should I be using equal weights and reps on each side, or do they need to be 'uneven', as well?
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    Feb 14, 2007 5:01 AM GMT
    Pardon me for adding a dumb question to this topic, but it is a symmetry thing. When I do deadlifts or barbell rows, the right side always hangs lower than the left. If they're not clamped in, the plates slide down on that side a couple of inches, by the end of the set. Yes, my arms are the same length. I can't quite figure out why this happens or what needs more work. Does this sound familiar to anyone?
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    Feb 23, 2007 1:51 AM GMT
    Asymetry is completely number. Use dumbells, and the problem will fix itself over time.
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    Feb 23, 2007 1:52 AM GMT
    Asymetry is completey NORMAL.
  • andydude

    Posts: 14

    Feb 28, 2007 12:08 AM GMT
    I'm a little late adding to the topic, but I agree with trying dumbells. I'd also recommend one-armed cable scoops. Move the cable to the lowest position near the floor, grab the handle and "scoop" the handle under your chest and then cross over past your pec midline. Admittedly, this is more a finishing exercise than a mass builder, but it adds to your arsenal of one-sided exercises.

    The other recommendation I have is to practice mind over matter. It sounds like you're right-sided, like I am. I'm stronger in my right arm, my right leg, and my right pec. But when I'm lifting using barbells I have to consciously make sure the left side is contributing equally -- usually this feels like I'm doing *more* work on my left side, but I've learned not to believe that biofeedback.

    And imaxim, let's lift together next time I visit SF!
  • andydude

    Posts: 14

    Feb 28, 2007 12:15 AM GMT
    I have to add my 2 cents to leanathleticdc too, 'cause I'm on a roll ;-)

    I'd recommend a few different exercises for developing that part of your upper pec. Since you're already doing incline flyes, I'd say you're missing out if you're not doing pullovers. Once you get comfortable with these, start increasing the weight.

    I like to let the weight drop behind my head far enough to get a good stretch, then bring the weight up in a controlled arc. When it's near the top, I shove the weight straight up toward the ceiling, putting additional emphasis on the upper pec right near the clavicle, which is what you're looking for.

    Here's a decent description of the pullover: http://www.exrx.net/WeightExercises/PectoralSternal/DBPullover.html
  • imaxim

    Posts: 94

    Feb 28, 2007 12:39 AM GMT
    Thanks again for the comments, guys. I've been trying the uneven pushups and dumbbells for a couple of weeks now. No barbells at all, though I have used a few chest-related machines.

    Yes, I'm right-handed. The curious thing I've noted is that the right side uneven push-ups are always much harder than the left. Since I'm doing these toward the end of my workout, I suppose it may be because the right side is already more exhausted by that time. Also, I always do the left side first (as recommended), so it could be just overall fatigue.

    That is interesting about the mental aspect of getting equal contribution from both sides. I've found it difficult to equalize (with a barbell) without overcompensating also, but perhaps my body is lying to me a bit, as well. With dumbbells, I have a very hard time getting my left side to lift with the exact same form as my right side consistently, but I'm hoping that will correct itself over time.

    One thing this little exercise has taught me... there are a lot of machines that [unintentionally] favor one side over the other! So I try to keep an eye out for those and avoid them now.

    Thanks again for all the advice and support!
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    Mar 02, 2007 8:40 AM GMT
    I read your most recent post.

    Be patient. Lifting is more than just muscle overload. There's neurological conditioning that's going on, too. I.e., if you're right handed, your left side it's so used to doing stuff.

    Be patient. Given time, and no congenital problems, it'll all balance out.
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    Mar 02, 2007 10:04 PM GMT
    If you're talking about symmetry, remember the balance not only side to side, but upper with lower.

    Since the function of the upper pecs is to draw the upper arm towards the clavicle, pressing movements which do not inclue adducting the shoulders will be less effective.

    The classic incline presses for upper chest will do more for anterior delts than upper chest unless you bring your shoulders up & together at the top of the movement.

    Also, remember to keep your arms bent at the top of the press. If they are straight and balanced on the shoulder, the pecs can almost completely relax, rather than be at maximum contraction as they should be.
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    Mar 16, 2007 9:25 AM GMT
    You want to make sure you do not have a genetic trait called "Poland Syndactyly," "Poland Syndrome," or "Poland Anomaly."

    You would never know if you have a mild case of it unless you weight train or bodybuild...

    I have a mild cae of this condition on my right chest, my dominant side. I have also seen only one of my patients with this over many years...

    Google it..
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    Mar 16, 2007 9:31 AM GMT
    Correction: Poland Syndrome is not genetic. It is a fetal gestation syndrome.
  • dionysus

    Posts: 420

    Apr 04, 2007 8:33 PM GMT
    try the push-ups alternate on medicine balls.
    or use dumbbells more than cable machines. maybe free motion machines as well.
  • GQjock

    Posts: 11648

    Apr 08, 2007 11:23 AM GMT
    We all have a dominant side..one which is stronger and may..I say may have a slight more hypertrophy to it
    but unless your in a very physically demanding job and you use one side much more than the other this should never really be noticeable
    The body doesn't like imbalance...and works to offset it because it can and does lead to injury in many cases
    if this imbalance in your chest is noticeable in the mirror and you've been consciously working them out equally esp with a trainer have a looksee with your Doc