I have a strength imbalance in both side of my hips as well as obliques. For this reason, I tend to descend somewhere towards left (my stronger side) and not in the middle during squats. I also find step ups more difficult on my weaker side. I have been to PT's, they couldn't fix it despite lots of sessions. Also, I can't afford for more. And trying to address obliques directly (like side planks) causes a lower back pain - it's more like pinching sensation.

I have heard that treating it as problem in form may be a solution. Meaning reducing load to one in which I can maintain proper form and then working upwards should resolve the issue.

Does this how it really works?

I have been very sedentary due to lots of unresolved injuries for long. Looks like I'm a starter again and starting with very low weights now...

  • 1
    Just to set an expectation for you, at maximal loads nearly every human being has muscular and connective tissue imbalances that will present themselves. Definitely try to correct them, but don't get frustrated if you're not a 100% perfectly symmetrical.
    – Eric
    Commented Sep 29, 2014 at 16:05

3 Answers 3


I'm willing to bet you don't do single leg work at all. It's not fun, but it is necessary to deal with things like this. Single leg work that supports squats include things like the following:

  • Split squats
  • Lunges
  • Single leg press
  • Bulgarian split squats (one leg elevated on a bench)
  • Pistols

You'll want to do as many reps as you can with the strong leg, then try to match the reps with the weak leg. If the weak leg gets fewer reps, rest a bit, and then keep going with that leg until you get 1-2 reps more than the strong leg.

When you are performing your regular squats, mentally tell yourself to put the weight on the weak side. What ends up happening is that you end up in the middle.

The problem with never doing single limb work is that your body will automatically compensate with the strong muscles so the relative strength stays the same. By forcing the weak side to work harder, you will help it catch up.

Incorporating Single Leg Work

Single leg work is an assistance exercise. Do your main squats first. Afterwards, do your single leg work for 3 sets. You want to aim for a weight you can do 10 reps with on your strong leg.

Pay attention to form, and make sure the reps you do are quality reps--particularly on the weak leg. If quality suffers, cut the set short. If you can't get 10 quality reps on your strong leg, you have too much weight on the bar. As usual, it's better to start light and build up.

If you can get 10 quality reps per set each leg for all 3 sets, then increase weight. 5 lbs or 2.5 kg is enough.

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    I agree, however, I would do it slightly differently. I would do as many as possible on the weaker leg, and only do that amount on the stronger leg(yes under working the stronger leg, but there's little point in making the stronger leg stronger until the weaker side catches up) in my opinion. Commented Apr 22, 2014 at 14:55
  • I described the approach that Jim Wendler prefers, and there's a few other guys in that world that prefer to do it this way. I've found the approach works well for other single limb work I've done. Commented Apr 22, 2014 at 15:21
  • I have been doing Bulgarian split squats since a week or two but it turns out, I have been doing only as much as my weaker side can handle... Will try the other way.... Commented Apr 22, 2014 at 16:18
  • @SwatiPriyadarsini How deep are your BSS? If you are not getting your thigh parallel to the floor, you may not be doing enough work to even out the imbalance. Commented Apr 22, 2014 at 21:58
  • @BerinLoritsch I have been doing BSS to touch the elevated leg's knee to an 1.5 inch high padding placed on the floor. Thigh looks almost parallel to the floor, not sure exactly. Should the elevated leg knee be touching the floor actually? Commented Apr 23, 2014 at 2:45

I tend to descend to the left a little bit as well. Conscious effort to fix the form in a complex movement and then adding weight on top of that will probably not help the problem. I personally have found that too much conscious effort can be effective if you know for sure that you are hitting the right muscle groups because it forces them to work harder (thereby creating more strength). However, the ultimate goal is movement efficiency as well as strength, so this only helps in certain situations to a certain extent. Also, conscious effort to fix a muscular imbalance in a complex movement will probably result in your body fixing the initial problem by creating another problem somewhere else. For example, I have a weak right gluteus maximus and weak right obliques. By simply trying to put more weight on my right leg during squats to fix the hip sway, I tend to overuse my right quad (which is adding to another problem).

So, the apparent solution for me (I am still working on this but have seen progress) is to REGRESS movements (unloaded) until I can isolate a muscle group without compensation. The fact that you get LBP when trying to side plank tells me that your obliques are still not being isolated properly and your spinal erectors are overworking as a result. If this is the case, you would need to flex your hips and do side planks on your knees, making sure that your "core" is in alignment. If this still causes pain, you would have to regress to a basic breathing pattern with your hips flexed while lying on your back. This entails bracing your core by breathing out as long as you can and then breathing while maintaining a braced core. If you are doing this correctly, the weak side (obliques) will be working harder than the strong side because your body will be in alignment.

I hope my ideas help, as I know how annoying these problems can be.


You may also consider having an EMG test done. Similar imbalances have affected me due to a nerve injury which has caused paralysis/parasthesia of my left rhomboid. Considering the innervation still present in other muscles groups connected to the brachial plexus chain, my hope is that I simply neglected to rehab after the injury before beginning to workout again thereby creating a need for many other muscles to compensate over time. Hopefully rehabbing with proper form with foundational exercises will alleviate a worsened impingement and return my body back to functional anatomy.

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