A muscular imbalance is when one muscle is more developed (aesthetically or in strength) than the corresponding other. For example, the one pec (side of your chest) can often be more developed than the other. This can be due to training, injury, having one stronger side, or lack of attention on it.

This means nothing to us in normal life, but in a high-performance scenario, if left unchecked, it can have consequences like pulling us to one side on the bike.

While this isn’t necessarily harmful or dangerous, it should be addressed as we want to run as efficiently as possible. It might also cause pain or discomfort, as well as issues such as bad posture.

Discussed in this blog:

  1. Agonist/antagonist theory
  2. How we rectify muscular imbalance
    1. Review: Review your body and problems you have encountered
    2. Identify: Identify the issues
    3. Plan: Plan out how you will rectify this with S&C
    4. Execution: Execute the plan
Picture of symmetric back muscles

 

Agonist/antagonist theory

The agonist/antagonist theory refers to the muscles that work together during a movement. The working muscle is the agonist, and the supporting muscle is the antagonist.

An example here is the downward push on the pedals: when a cyclist pushes down on the pedals, they are using their quads (agonist) to propel the bike forwards, this means the hamstrings (antagonist) are not currently working as well as they could be. This is an inefficient way to produce power and can be a reason for muscle cramps.

Another example might be the lower back: when you are holding a stationary position on the bike, your back (agonist) is holding the forward position. The abdominals (antagonist) work to help the lower back hold the body in a static position.

If you neglect a specific area of a muscle group it might not work as efficiently, which will lead to less power, less efficient riding, and possibly more pain.

Picture of body builder with symmetric muscles

 

How do we rectify muscular imbalance?

The first way to rectify this is by having a properly structured training plan, something that works alongside your cycling to strengthen your body in the areas that need it.

You need to review yourself, look at where your imbalances may be and, if possible, highlight this information to a coach who can help you.

Ultimately the solution to this problem involves 4 steps:

  1. Review: Review your body and problems you have encountered
  2. Identify: Identify the issues
  3. Plan: Plan out how you will rectify this with S&C
  4. Execution: Execute the plan
Picture of runner on road with correct muscle balance

 

Summary

This takes time, patience, and dedication but it can be done. It is relatively easy if you’re working with the right people or have a thorough understanding of this concept.

You can take time on your rest days, so you don’t need to take any days away from your riding. When it comes to muscle imbalance, it might be a niggle and not an injury, but it is worth investing your time into if you want to perform at your best.

 

Get in Contact

If you’d like more information on how Spokes can tailor a training programme to your exact needs, why not check out our products and services. Need more info or would you like to speak to one of our coaches? Get in contact.

About The Author: Adam Copley

Adam is a self-employed coach based in Sheffield, UK. Alongside this he is an avid cyclist and competes in cross country mountain biking across the UK. He has raced Cyclocross during the winter and is also a huge lover of road cycling. While he's not working on his business, he is usually out on two wheels getting fitter, and enjoying the fresh air and many climbs in the peak district.

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