Muscle imbalances are nasty things. Whenever you have unequal strength in agonist - antagonist muscle pairs you are inviting injury in the joint those muscles are acting on. Here we will look at the chest and back.
I see many people in gyms on a quest to get huge and look impressive with their shirt off. The problem is that they only see the front when they look in the mirror. As a result they slave in the gym on the bench press and do minimal work for their back. This creates major imbalances in opposing muscles.
If a person has significantly more strength in their bench press than they do in movements like pull-ups and rows they are risking shoulder injury. Sadly this is the case for a lot of people.
Here are a few tests to see if your back and chest is unbalanced to the point of risking injury…
Test your bench press for 10 reps. Make sure you are testing at a high intensity. The 10th rep should be almost impossible. Record the weight you used. Now test your pull-up. With the pull-up you need to match the amount of weight used in the bench press. Most of this weight will be made up of your body weight. Any differences will need to be made up using additional weight. Just add weight until your body weight and the additional weight matches that of the bench press. Now see if you can perform 10 reps. If not then you have an imbalance that needs to be rectified.
Secondly you can do the same for bench press and bent over row.
For an isolated test that isolates the directly opposing muscles use dumbell flyes and rear deltoid raises. You should be able to lift 75 percent of your fly weight on the rear deltoid raise for the same number of reps. If not then you have an imbalance that may cause you injury.
Muscle imbalances don’t sound like the most attractive topic of conversation for most people. This is probably due to the fact that most people are eager to get to the material that tells them how to get huge and strong or improve athletic performance. But here’s the truth…
Imbalances inhibit strength as a protective mechanism. If you bench press enormous weight but have a weak pull-up your body is likely to be injured. Your body wants to avoid this so it has inhibitory mechanisms in place that prevent you lifting too much on the bench press. So strengthen your back to equal your front and your bench press will immediately increase.
To prevent muscle imbalances ensure you create a program that is balanced and trains all muscles groups equally. Test the balance regularly so you can rectify any muscle imbalances and prevent injury and increase performance.