This is the serious muscle-sculpting routine that strengthens any hard-to-firm spots.
Ever notice how one arm can crank out more curls than the other? Or that it’s easier to do single-leg squats on, say, your right leg? “That’s because many of us have structural imbalances where one side of the body is stronger than the other,” says Adam Rosante, a strength and nutrition coach, and founder of the online training program and app Strong(h)er. Rather than shrug it off and move on, muscle up. “Your goal is to create an even balance of strength – and therefore a balanced-looking physique,” Adam says.
When one side of the body is stronger than the other, it creates a pull on your alignment that you’ll start to feel in the joints, he says. In fact, things like back, shoulder, and knee pain can all be signs of a muscular imbalance. Create symmetry, and you’ll not only reduce the aches – and prevent injury – but move so much better, too.
Adam designed the following routine to uncover and even out any strength disparities. Here’s how: You never put down the dumbbells or pause during the entire workout. Called complex training, this method is meant to tax a muscle’s staying power so the weak links are obvious. Choose dumbbells that are doable by your weaker side, and do this routine three times a week on non-consecutive days, he says. When you sense that a weaker muscle has come up to the strength level of its counterpart, pick a heavier pair of dumbbells.
Weak side? Not anymore.
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Perform a dynamic warm-up: March in place for 30 seconds, windmilling arms forward for 15 seconds, then backwards. Then do 10 push-ups followed by 30 seconds each of jumping jacks, skaters, butt kicks, and high knees. Then do the exercises as indicated, back to back. That’s 1 round. Complete 3 to 5 rounds as fast as possible.
A set of 2kg-10kg dumbbells.
1. SUMO DEAD LIFT
Works upper back, butt, hamstrings, inner thighs
Stand with feet wider than shoulder-width apart, toes turned out, holding weight in each hand with palms facing thighs. [A] Squat, sending knees out over toes. [B] Drive up through heels to return to start. Squeeze glutes at top. That’s 1 rep. Do 12 reps.
2. BENT-OVER ROW
Works back, arms
Stand with feet hip-width apart, holding weight in each hand, arms by sides. [A] Press hips back and lower torso until chest is almost parallel to floor. Let arms hang towards floor, palms facing each other, to start. [B] Bending elbows and driving them behind you, row dumbbells to hips. Return arms to start. That’s 1 rep. Do 12 reps.
SCALE UP Do a triceps extension between rows, extending arms behind you at the top of the row and then bending elbows again before lowering dumbbells.
3. CURL TO ARNOLD PRESS
Works shoulders, arms
Stand with feet hip-width apart, holding weight in each hand with arms by sides, palms facing thighs. [A] Bend elbows and curl weights up, rotating wrists to finish with palms facing shoulders. [B] Press weights up, rotating wrists to finish with palms facing away from you, arms overhead and biceps next to ears. That’s 1 rep. Do 12 reps.
4. LATERAL PLYO LUNGE
Works butt, quads, inner and outer thighs, calves
[A] Stand with feet hip-width apart, holding weight in each hand with arms by sides. [B] Step left foot left, pressing hips back to lower into side lunge. [C] Press off left foot to return to centre, explosively jumping straight up off right leg, bringing left knee towards chest. That’s 1 rep. Do 12 reps. Switch sides; repeat.
SCALE DOWN Skip the jump.
5. OVERHEAD GET-UP
Works upper back, shoulders, forearms, abs, butt, quads
Stand with feet hip-width apart, holding weight in each hand. Press weights overhead with biceps next to ears. [A] Maintaining upright torso, lower to knees, one leg at a time. [B] Stand back up, one leg at a time. That’s 1 rep. Do 12 reps.
SCALE DOWN Keep arms by sides.
6. DUMBBELL BURPEE
Works shoulders, chest, back, abs, butt, quads, calves
Stand with feet hip-width apart, holding weight in each hand, arms at sides. [A] Crouch and place dumbbells on floor, palms facing feet, maintaining firm grip. [B] Jump feet back to plank. Jump feet back to crouched position. [C] Explosively jump straight up with arms by sides. That’s 1 rep. Do 12 reps.
SCALE DOWN Skip the jump.
SCALE UP Jump up and over to one side—even add an obstacle to clear, like a bench, a box, or a medicine ball.
7. FLOOR PRESS
Works shoulders, chest, arms
Lie face up on ﬂoor, holding weight in each hand by sides. [A] Keeping backs of arms on ﬂoor, bend elbows 90 degrees so knuckles point to ceiling, palms facing each other to start. [B] Press dumbbells straight up towards ceiling, fully extending arms and keeping wrists above shoulders. Lower to return backs of arms to ﬂoor. That’s 1 rep. Do 12 reps.
SCALE UP Add a skull crusher between presses, bending elbows at top of press to lower dumbbells outside of ears, then extending arms up again before returning to start.
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