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Strive for perfection & symmetry; don't expect it

Strive for perfection. Don’t expect it.

Strive for symmetry. Don’t expect it.

2 sentences I find myself saying quite a lot when it comes to exercise.

This post is a proper ramble, so good luck. If it’s TL;DR, then just take those first 2 sentences at face value because they can basically apply to most things.

Some people want every rep to be perfect. Me too! But, don’t expect every rep to be perfect.

As fatigue kicks in, form may waver. That’s normal. Don’t worry.

To what degree do we let the form go is the tough part. On a bicep curl, if you’re leaning back and swinging the weight up a little, I couldn’t really give a shit.

However, if you’re desperately trying to directly work the elbow flexors, you might want to cut your set off early when this happens.

On the other hand, getting in those extra reps, with slightly poorer form, means we at least get some more decent eccentric volume. Typically the eccentric phase of the movement will be a much cleaner phase (despite the concentric being poor), so there’s that to consider too.

If you’re new to the gym, leave it when the form starts to get ugly. If you’re a fairly experienced lifter, you could happily carry into some ‘cheat’ reps to get that volume in despite being fatigued.

This would be exercise dependent. In more complex, lifts like squats or deadlifts, I would suggest at the earlier stages of poor form to finish your set, experienced lifter or not.

Ok, I went off on a tangent I didn’t mean to go off on. The point I’m trying to make is the quote of mine at the start, just don’t expect perfection yeah?

Symmetry is in a very similar boat. One arm, or one leg, or one side, may have more strength, and/or more strength-endurance, and/or more flexibility. This is pretty normal. If anything, it’s the more common scenario. I expect to see this. Don’t worry about it.

What I’d suggest is, work as far range of motion as you can with the poor side, and match it with the better side, despite the better side able to move further. The same with the weight, lift the same weight on the better side as the poorer side. This is so we don’t further the asymmetry we have observed. Hopefully see the poorer side get closer to becoming more symmetrical, just don’t expect it to even out completely.

The quote I often give after saying all that is: Usain Bolt has one leg with 17% more strength than the other. I’d be curious to see what effect it would have if both legs were the same strength 🤔


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