Eliminate Muscle Imbalances to Improve Performance and Stay Injury-Free

March 17, 2012

Must See Sports Injuries Videos

You can strength train all you want to get strong and big. But if your body doesn't have balanced strength, you are putting yourself at risk for injury.

Balanced strength refers to equal strength on the left/right and front/back sides of your body. For example, if your hamstrings are weak in comparison to your quads, you are at an increased risk for an ACL injury, because your quad exerts too much force on the ligament. The same is true throughout the body.

To stay injury-free, you need to perform specific exercises that improve balance in certain muscle groups. Below, I outline four exercises that will help improve common muscular imbalances in athletes.

Band Pull-Apart
The Band Pull-Apart is an excellent exercise to strengthen the upper back and scapula retractors. Many athletes have rounded shoulders because they have a tight chest from performing too many pressing exercises. Also, sitting in a classroom or office with a hunched back can contribute to rounded shoulders. The result is a tight mid-back with little mobility, causing major muscle imbalances that put stress on your back and shoulders. Perform the Band Pull-Apart during your warm-up to correct this imbalance.

  • Assume athletic stance with arms extended in front of chest, holding mini band with slightly-wider-than-shoulder-width grip
  • Pinch shoulder blades together and pull band apart until band touches chest; hold for one second
  • Slowly bring arms to start position
  • Repeat for specified reps

Sets/Reps: 4x25

Reverse Lunges
Most sports are played on one leg. The problem is that your favored leg probably develops more strength and coordination. If you go to cut or land from a jump on your less favored leg, it might not respond as expected, leading to potential injury. Single-leg exercises like Reverse Lunges help overcome this problem, while also increasing overall lower-body strength and stability.

  • Assume athletic stance holding dumbbell in front and near chest
  • Take large step backward into lunge position, with weight on front heel
  • Keeping front knee behind toes, lower until back knee almost touches ground
  • Drive forward into start position; perform rep on opposite leg
  • Continue in alternating fashion for specified reps

Sets/Reps: 3-4x8-12

Glute Ham Raise
The Glute Ham Raise is one of the best exercises for strengthening the backside of the body, which is particularly important for quad-dominant athletes—especially female athletes—because it strengthens the hamstrings and prevents knee injuries. Glute Ham Raises also make sure your hamstrings and glutes work in unison to keep the backside of your body strong and injury-free.

  • Assume position on glute ham machine with legs locked in place
  • Raise torso upward until chest is parallel to floor
  • Drive knees into foam pad until they are at 90-degree angle and body is upright
  • Lower with control; pause for one second and repeat

Sets/Reps: 3-5xMax - 2

There you have it—three awesome exercises to help you improve muscular balance. Send any questions or comments you have to Joe@MeglioPerformance.com.

For more information on the ACL please see the STACK ACL Guide.

Source:  Band Pull-Apart video courtesy of Jason Ferruggia

Joe Meglio is a strength and conditioning coach at the Underground Strength Gym in Edison, N.J. He is STACK’s Expert of the Month for February 2012. Mentored by one of the brightest minds in the strength and conditioning industry, Zach Even-Esh, Meglio has worked with athletes at the high school, college and professional level. He specializes in training baseball players. Besides being a strength coach, Meglio competed in his first powerlifting meet in 2010, setting the New Jersey state record for Squat, Deadlift and total in his weight class and division. He graduated from Fairleigh Dickinson University in May 2011, following his final season as captain of the baseball team. For more information, please go to MeglioFitness.com.

Joe Meglio
- Joe Meglio is a strength and conditioning coach at the Underground Strength Gym in Edison, N.J. He is STACK's Expert of the Month for February...
Joe Meglio
- Joe Meglio is a strength and conditioning coach at the Underground Strength Gym in Edison, N.J. He is STACK's Expert of the Month for February...
Must See
How to Perform the Euro Step With Iman Shumpert How to Perform the Euro Step With Iman Shumpert
Views: 85,104
Peyton Manning Dumbbell Bench With 80+ Pounds Peyton Manning Dumbbell Bench With 80+ Pounds
Views: 37,418,296
Skylar Diggins Attacks the Off-Season On and Off the Court Skylar Diggins Attacks the Off-Season On and Off the Court
Views: 6,946,391

Featured Videos

Real Workouts: Randall Cobb Real Workouts: Randall Cobb Views: 20,496
Greg Nixon's Full-Body Dumbbell Circuit Greg Nixon's Full-Body Dumbbell Circuit Views: 317,794
SEALFIT: Pushing the Limits of What Athletes Are Capable Of SEALFIT: Pushing the Limits of What Athletes Are Capable Of
Load More

Resources

STACK Fitness

Everything you need to be fitter than ever

STACK Conditioning

Sport-specific conditioning programs

Coaches and Trainers

Tips and advice for coaches and trainers

Magazine

Latest issues of STACK Magazine

STACK 4W

Women's sports workout, nutrition and lifestyle advice

Gamer

Gaming, entertainment and tech news

Basic Training

Military-style training for athletes

News

Find the latest news relevant to athletes

Most Popular Videos

Derrick Rose Explains How He Stays Positive Derrick Rose Explains How He Stays Positive
Views: 6,081,054
Allyson Felix Explains How To Choose a Coach Allyson Felix Explains How To Choose a Coach
Views: 8,690,928
Dustin Pedroia on Training Dustin Pedroia on Training
Views: 10,919,945
Charging Ground Balls With Skip Schumaker Charging Ground Balls With Skip Schumaker
Views: 29,869
Yoga for Athletes: Crow Pose Yoga for Athletes: Crow Pose
Views: 3,539,411

Load More
More Cool Stuff You'll Like
8 of the Most Ridiculous Off-Field Athlete Injuries of All Time

8 of the Most Ridiculous Off-Field Athlete Injuries of All Time

What You Need to Know About Tiger Woods' Back Injury

What You Need to Know About Tiger Woods' Back Injury

Predicting the Impact of DeMarco Murray's Hand Injury

Predicting the Impact of DeMarco Murray's Hand Injury

4 Sports Massage Techniques to Relieve Tight Muscles

4 Sports Massage Techniques to Relieve Tight Muscles

How to Prevent Injuries With 3 Yoga Poses

How to Prevent Injuries With 3 Yoga Poses

Outsmart Injury With These 4 Predictive Tests

Outsmart Injury With These 4 Predictive Tests

2 Ways to Fix Anterior Pelvic Tilt

2 Ways to Fix Anterior Pelvic Tilt

6 Simple Tips to Prevent Knee Injuries

6 Simple Tips to Prevent Knee Injuries

Achilles Tendon Ruptures: Prevention and Recovery

Achilles Tendon Ruptures: Prevention and Recovery

Evan Gattis's Protection-Enhanced Catcher's Helmet

Evan Gattis's Protection-Enhanced Catcher's Helmet

3 Ways to Prevent the Most Common Hockey Injury

3 Ways to Prevent the Most Common Hockey Injury

The Future of Sports Injury Rehabilitation

The Future of Sports Injury Rehabilitation

Eliminate Elbow Pain with These 3 Methods

Eliminate Elbow Pain with These 3 Methods

STUDY: Imaginary Exercise Helps You Recover Faster From Injury

STUDY: Imaginary Exercise Helps You Recover Faster From Injury

How to Treat Piriformis Syndrome

How to Treat Piriformis Syndrome

5 Things You Can Do to Prevent Muscle Injuries

5 Things You Can Do to Prevent Muscle Injuries

The 8 Most Dangerous Exercises for Your Shoulders

The 8 Most Dangerous Exercises for Your Shoulders

Impressive Advances in ACL Rehab

Impressive Advances in ACL Rehab

10 Ways to Fix Back Pain

10 Ways to Fix Back Pain

Coaches: Prevent Injuries With the Recovery Management Tool

Coaches: Prevent Injuries With the Recovery Management Tool

Preventing ACL Injuries in Soccer Players

Preventing ACL Injuries in Soccer Players

How to Prevent Baseball Injuries During the Off-Season

How to Prevent Baseball Injuries During the Off-Season

How to Keep Your Feet Healthy On and Off the Field

How to Keep Your Feet Healthy On and Off the Field

The Secret Weapon Powering Stephen Curry's Resurgence

The Secret Weapon Powering Stephen Curry's Resurgence

Why Strengthening This Muscle May Fix Knee Pain

Why Strengthening This Muscle May Fix Knee Pain

6 Ways to Prevent Common Sports Injuries

6 Ways to Prevent Common Sports Injuries

Tips for Working Out With a Hand or Arm Injury

Tips for Working Out With a Hand or Arm Injury

6 Steps for Recovering From a Season-Ending Injury

6 Steps for Recovering From a Season-Ending Injury

Bulletproof Your Body with 5 Easy Injury Prevention Exercises

Bulletproof Your Body with 5 Easy Injury Prevention Exercises

Prevent ACL Injuries With This Hamstring-Focused Workout

Prevent ACL Injuries With This Hamstring-Focused Workout

4 Strategies to Prevent Tommy John Surgery

4 Strategies to Prevent Tommy John Surgery

7 Ways to Fix Back Pain

7 Ways to Fix Back Pain

Connective Tissue: The Key to Preventing ACL Injuries

Connective Tissue: The Key to Preventing ACL Injuries

Avoid Low-Back Pain With These 7 In-Season Exercises

Avoid Low-Back Pain With These 7 In-Season Exercises

5 Bodyweight Exercises to Prevent Baseball Injuries

5 Bodyweight Exercises to Prevent Baseball Injuries

Megan Rapinoes Secret to Staying Healthy

Megan Rapinoe

5 Tips to Intelligently Train Through Lower Back Pain

5 Tips to Intelligently Train Through Lower Back Pain

3 Steps to Prevent Soccer ACL Injuries

3 Steps to Prevent Soccer ACL Injuries

How to Train With Running Blisters

How to Train With Running Blisters

Sports Hernias: What You Need to Know

Sports Hernias: What You Need to Know

Quarterbacks: 4 Tips to Keep Your Throwing Shoulder Healthy

Quarterbacks: 4 Tips to Keep Your Throwing Shoulder Healthy

Basketball Players: Prevent Ankle Sprains With These 3 Exercises

Basketball Players: Prevent Ankle Sprains With These 3 Exercises

Pectoral Tendon Ruptures and Injury Prevention

Pectoral Tendon Ruptures and Injury Prevention

YardBarker