The Best Exercises to Find and Fix Muscle Imbalances

Learn how to fix muscle imbalances with these 6 exercises. Easily correct a muscle imbalance in the legs, back, hip, and more with this simple workout you can do anytime. #fixmuscleimbalance #muscleimbalance #legmuscleimbalance

Muscle imbalances are a common reason for pain, improper form or a plateau in progress – and yet they are so often overlooked. Continuing to train with a muscular imbalance in the legs can cause the symptoms to worsen, eventually leading to injury. Luckily, finding and fixing muscle imbalances is a relatively easy process.

What causes muscle imbalances in the legs?

It’s fairly common for any person to have one side of the body that is stronger than the other. However, with continued running and activity, these weaknesses on our non-dominant side can eventually become more pronounced. Muscle imbalances are quite a bit more common than we even realize.

Most people naturally have a dominant side of the body. With continued use and preference, this side continues to become stronger while the other becomes less and less active.

Many runners are surprised to discover that some muscles remain completely inactive on the run. This inactivity causes other muscles to overcompensate in order to continue training, creating an even bigger muscle imbalance.

How do you fix muscle imbalances?

Muscle imbalances anywhere in the body, particularly imbalances in the legs, can trigger major problems down the road. A weakness in one hip may alter your stride, causing you to unknowingly compensate for the weakness by favoring the stronger side. A muscle imbalance anywhere in the legs can cause one side to be overused and eventually lead to injury.

The first step to fixing muscle imbalances, especially those in the legs, is to determine exactly where the imbalance is. To do so, you can complete a few simple muscle imbalance exercises to test for areas that might be weaker than others.

Isolating muscles is key to fixing imbalances.

These exercises are helpful for highlighting muscular imbalances that may be causing inactivity during exercise. Once you have found the areas where strength is weaker, fixing the imbalance involves isolating the muscle and completing targeted exercises to strengthen the weaker side.

If you think one side of your body might be stronger than the other, try one of these 6 exercises to test for and fix muscle imbalances in the legs, back, and upper body.

Learn how to fix muscle imbalances with these 6 exercises. Easily correct a muscle imbalance in the legs, back, hip, and more with this simple workout you can do anytime. #fixmuscleimbalance #muscleimbalance #legmuscleimbalance

6 Exercises to Find and Fix Muscle Imbalances

These 6 exercises provide a quick, simple way to test for muscle imbalances in the legs, back and upper body. Complete these exercises on a regular basis to evaluate whether one side of the body is stronger than the other.

If you unveil any muscular imbalances when completing these exercises, take the time to isolate those areas and focus on fixing the imbalance. Try any or all of these exercises to avoid muscle inactivity and stay strong and healthy throughout training.

Leg Imbalance Exercise: Single Leg Squat

This exercise is a great way to test for a muscle imbalance in the legs. The single leg squat is incredibly effective in highlighting side to side imbalances in the muscles. Completing this exercise on each leg helps you feel the difference in strength by isolating one side at a time.

You may immediately notice that one quad, hip or glute is stronger than the other during the squat. If you notice that squatting on one side feels significantly harder than the other, you may have a muscle imbalance in your legs.

Learn how to fix muscle imbalances with these 6 exercises. Easily correct a muscle imbalance in the legs, back, hip, and more with this simple workout you can do anytime. #fixmuscleimbalance #muscleimbalance #legmuscleimbalance

How to Find a Muscle Imbalance in Legs

During the single leg squat, a key sign of a muscle weakness is the angle of your knee.

As you perform this exercise, take a look at the knee on your grounded leg. When you squat down, your knee should remain forward facing – inline with your thigh. If your knee angles to one side or another, your muscles are weaker on this leg.

How to Fix a Muscle Imbalance in Legs

To fix this muscle imbalance, you’ll need to strengthen your hips, glutes and quads.

Regular squats, jump squats, lunges, and single leg dips on a stair are a great way to do this. Complete these exercises slowly, focusing on form by keeping your knees straight. Proceed as slowly as necessary in order to avoid letting your knee shift to the side during each repetition.

Try this 30 Minute Leg Workout to isolate and strengthen muscles on each side.

Hip and Glute Imbalance Exercise: Single Leg Bridge

The single leg bridge is a great exercise to test for muscle imbalances in the upper legs – the hips and glutes. Completing a single leg bridge on each leg is a simple way to evaluate whether one side is stronger than the other.

Complete a single leg bridge hold for 30 seconds on each side. If strength imbalances aren’t immediately apparent, you can also try a few single leg hip lifts. Both of these exercises will highlight any weaknesses.

Learn how to fix muscle imbalances with these 6 exercises. Easily correct a muscle imbalance in the legs, back, hip, and more with this simple workout you can do anytime. #fixmuscleimbalance #muscleimbalance #legmuscleimbalance

How to Find a Muscle Imbalance in Hips and Glutes

During a single leg bridge, a key sign of muscle weakness is your hip alignment.

As you perform this exercise, take a look at the hip on your raised leg. When you complete a hold or dip, the hip on your elevated leg should remain inline with the opposite side. If your hip consistently dips lower when completing the single leg bridge on one side, you likely have a weakness.

How to Fix a Muscle Imbalance in Hips and Glutes

To fix this muscle imbalance, you’ll need to isolate and strengthen the hips and glutes.

Exercises such as bridges, planks, and leg lifts target this area and provide an efficient way to strengthen both the hips and glutes. If you discover a noticeable muscle imbalance, isolating the muscles even further with single leg bridges and single leg lifts will help focus on the weaker side.

If you notice that both sides are weak, try incorporating regular bridges and hip lifts, planks, and leg lifts on both sides into your strengthening routine.

Try this Hip & Glute Resistance Band Workout to fix and prevent these types of muscle imbalances.

Back Imbalance Exercise: Kneeling Spinal Twist

A kneeling spinal twist is an effective way to test for a muscle imbalance in your back. This exercise is not difficult, but very revealing. Completing a spinal twist on each side of the body can highlight any strength imbalances or muscle tightness in the back.

Begin on your hands and knees, and simply raise one hand up towards the ceiling. Look up towards your palm and twist your body towards your elevated hand. Lower your hand back to the floor and complete the same motion on the other side of your body.

You might notice a difference with range of motion, weakness on one side or overall tightness in your back muscles.

Learn how to fix muscle imbalances with these 6 exercises. Easily correct a muscle imbalance in the legs, back, hip, and more with this simple workout you can do anytime. #fixmuscleimbalance #muscleimbalance #legmuscleimbalance

How to Find a Muscle Imbalance in the Back

During the kneeling spinal twist, a key sign of muscle imbalance is your range of motion on each side.

As you perform this exercise, be aware of how far you are able to twist on each side. In addition, make note of how easy or challenging it is to do so. If you notice that it is considerably easier to twist in one direction, the opposite side may be lacking in strength.

If you notice that it is painful to twist in one direction, you may need to increase flexibility and loosen tight muscles on that side.

How to Fix a Muscle Imbalance in the Back

To fix this muscle imbalance, you’ll need to isolate and strengthen the back.

Exercises such as a plank or superman are a great way to improve overall core and back strength. Taking things a step further with side planks will help isolate a single side at a time.

If you noticed pain when twisting to one side, spending time stretching the back can help improve flexibility. Touch touches, straight arm stretches, cat-cow tilts and forward bends are great stretches to improve range of motion in the back.

Try these 7 Bodyweight Back Exercises to fix and prevent these types of muscle imbalances.

Leg Imbalance Exercise: In-Line Lunge

The in-line lunge is another effective exercise to test for a muscle imbalance in the legs. This simple variation of a standard lunge will reveal a great deal about your leg and hip strength on each side.

The only difference between a standard lunge and in-line lunge is that for this exercise, you’ll want both feet to be in line with each other. You can do this by lowering your body down into a regular lunge and then moving your front foot towards the center with heel-toe movements.

Learn how to fix muscle imbalances with these 6 exercises. Easily correct a muscle imbalance in the legs, back, hip, and more with this simple workout you can do anytime. #fixmuscleimbalance #muscleimbalance #legmuscleimbalance

How to Find a Muscle Imbalance in the Legs

During an in-line lunge, a key sign of muscle imbalance is your knee alignment.

Ideally, both knees should be in a straight line with one another, facing forward completely. If you notice that your front or back knee angles out to one side, it is a sign that you have a muscle imbalance in your legs.

How to Fix a Muscle Imbalance in the Legs

To fix this muscle imbalance, you’ll need to strengthen your hips, glutes and quads.

Regular squats, jump squats, lunges, and single leg dips on a stair are a great way to do this. Complete these exercises slowly, focusing on form by keeping your knees straight. Proceed as slowly as necessary in order to avoid letting your knee shift to the side during each repetition.

This 30 Minute Leg Workout is a great way to isolate and strengthen muscles on each side.

Full Body Imbalance Exercise: Single Leg Deadlift

Single leg deadlifts are an incredibly effective way to check for overall muscle imbalances between each side of the body. When checking for a strength imbalance, this exercise is best performed without a weight.

While an unweighted single leg deadlift looks relatively easy, maintaining balance can be surprisingly challenging. Begin by standing, and then raise one leg into the air while reaching down toward the floor with your opposite hand. Continue until your back forms a straight line with your elevated leg.

Learn how to fix muscle imbalances with these 6 exercises. Easily correct a muscle imbalance in the legs, back, hip, and more with this simple workout you can do anytime. #fixmuscleimbalance #muscleimbalance #legmuscleimbalance

How to Find a Full Body Muscle Imbalance

When completing the single leg deadlift, a key sign of muscle imbalance is your overall balance and stability.

If you notice that you wobble and shake significantly more on one side while attempting this exercise, your body is likely weaker on this side. While simple, this exercise can be incredibly revealing.

Pay attention to the ease at which you are able to lower towards the floor and then return to standing. If you find that you have to pause to make many corrections, you have likely uncovered a muscle imbalance.

How to Fix a Full Body Muscle Imbalance

To fix a muscle imbalance when one side of the body is stronger than the other, you’ll want to focus on strengthening the major muscle groups.

Plyometric movements in exercises such as jump squats, jump lunges, plank taps, side plank twists, and burpees are a great way to improve overall strength and balance. Exercises with movement encourage the firing of smaller muscles to promote balance as well as build strength.

Try these 6 Full Body Balance Exercises to improve overall strength.

Core Imbalance Exercise: Single Arm and Knee Extension

The single arm and knee extension is an exercise to test for a muscle imbalance in the core. When completing the extensions on the same side of the body, this exercise can be very revealing if one side of the body is stronger than the other.

Begin on your hands and knees, and then extend both your left arm and left leg, lifting them into the air. Focus on keeping your arm and leg parallel to the floor when you extend them. Once your leg and arm are fully extended, bend them to bring them to touch underneath your stomach.

Learn how to fix muscle imbalances with these 6 exercises. Easily correct a muscle imbalance in the legs, back, hip, and more with this simple workout you can do anytime. #fixmuscleimbalance #muscleimbalance #legmuscleimbalanceLearn how to fix muscle imbalances with these 6 exercises. Easily correct a muscle imbalance in the legs, back, hip, and more with this simple workout you can do anytime. #fixmuscleimbalance #muscleimbalance #legmuscleimbalance

How to Find a Muscle Imbalance in the Core

When completing this arm/knee extension and tap, a key sign of muscle imbalance is your ability to balance during the exercise. If you notice that you wobble significantly more on one side, you likely have a muscle imbalance in your core.

In addition, if you find that you are unable to bring your knee and elbow to meet (or are less flexible), you likely have tight back muscles on this side.

If your body leans to one side during the extension, you likely have weaker  hips and core. During this exercise, the goal is to keep your body fully upright while your arm and leg are moving – if you wobble or lean, you’ll need to do some strengthening.

How to Fix a Muscle Imbalance in the Core

To fix this muscle imbalance, you’ll need to focus on isolating both the large and small muscles throughout your entire core.

Exercises such as bridges, hip tilts and side planks are great for strengthening those inner core muscles. Exercises such as planks, crunches, and legs down are an effective way to strengthen the larger muscles. Aim to complete a combination of exercises that targets different muscles throughout the entire core.

Try this 10 Minute Core Tightening Workout for a wide range of strengthening in your abs.

Whether you’ve discovered a muscle imbalance in the legs, back, hips, core or the entire body, spending time focusing on improving strength is usually the easy part.

Making it a priority to regularly check for and fix muscle imbalances can help target your attention during strength training and avoid injuries from occurring in the future.

It is natural that one side of the body is stronger than the other, but taking the time to even out your strength is key to longevity in training. Keeping your muscles balanced prevents overuse and inactivity, helping you making the most of your workouts and avoid any dreaded plateaus.

Just a few minutes of isolated strengthening each week is all it takes to keep your muscles balanced and stay healthy over time.

More muscle imbalance exercises:

These muscle imbalance exercises will help you find and fix the imbalances keeping you from becoming stronger and better at your sport. Primarily targeted to the most common muscle imbalances in the legs, this workout is perfect to do during training to increase overall strength and balance your body. #muscleimbalances #training
These muscle imbalance exercises will help you find and fix the imbalances keeping you from becoming stronger and better at your sport. Primarily targeted to the most common muscle imbalances in the legs, this workout is perfect to do during training to increase overall strength and balance your body. #muscleimbalances #training

13 comments / Add your comment below

  1. Fantastic post! I love that you provide ways for us to address all of these issues.
    My PT recommended doing single leg exercises. I tried single leg dips but my knees hurt too much.

    1. Thanks for reading! 🙂

      Single leg exercises are so challenging! They are very revealing in terms of side-to-side strength but wow, are they surprisingly difficult. I hope your knee pain starts to decrease for you! I always try to avoid those single leg exercises but usually end up doing them anyways because they are very helpful.

  2. Good to know! I’ve been having pain in my left achillies tendon, could this be due to muscle imbalance as well? I did the squat exercise and my left side does seem to be weaker?

    1. Ugh, Achilles pain is so frustrating. I’d bet that it’s a combination of things! When my Achilles was acting up it was actually because my calf muscle on that side was really tight. I would try stretching and rolling your calves as well as some isolating strength exercises for your hips and quads on that side. Hopefully it is a simple fix!!

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