Side Plank with Leg Raise - Far weaker on one side!

Hi

Taken from Intermediate Strength 1A. Side Plank with Leg Raise.

I’ve noticed I’m so much weaker with my right leg down than left leg down (could be due to previous running injury/surgery on right knee years ago).

With my left leg down I find this hard, but I am able to hold the position for the duration and remain stable. I can lift my right leg up, keep it straight and horizontal (or even as high as shown in the picture above)

With my right leg down I struggle. On the outside of my right knee I feel that there’s so little strength there to hold the position (causing my right knee to want to collapse down towards the ground), and with the left leg up I struggle to keep the raised leg straight and up. It almost feels like the muscles in my left groin/hip feel so much weaker.
In a standard side plank on the same side I feel fine. Thinking this through it may be with my left leg down and straight too it may be compensating for my right legs weakness and essentially resisting the ‘collapse’ due to the weaker right leg.

2 things:

  1. Am I alone?!!
  2. What other exercises or drills can I do to improve strength and even up my strength between sides?

Many thanks

Mike

You are not alone.
I struggle also on 1 side - not in the same way as you though. I struggle more with keeping my balance on one side. As for my case, I figure that repetition will make perfect in the end.

Paging @abicarver

You are definitely not alone! I also struggle with this on one side, while relatively easy on the other. I have no history of injury either.

I have trouble lifting my right leg up while supported on my left leg, so I think opposite side to you. It’s worth noting that I am left footed, so that could be a factor as I am more co-ordinated with my left leg. My brain doesn’t seem keen to lift up my right leg in that position!

I think it is fairly common to have one side of the body stronger than the other. The important thing is to keep the proper form with the “weaker” side and not try to keep with the stronger side with poor form.

After all we have preferences to use one hand or step forward with one foot. In fact, if you look at how you do daily tasks such as putting on clothing you probably prefer to put one side on first. One day I noticed I always put my pants on right leg first, and it felt strange to do it the other way around. I realized it was because my balance was better on one side than the other.

1 Like

Yeah we are right/left handed and right/left footed. I’m slightly unusual in being right handed and left footed. People who don’t play football (soccer) might not even realise they are “footed” in the same way as they are handed.

I have the same issue. Left side is much stronger at these than my right side. For me, I feel the weakness in my right hip - it wants to sag down towards the ground, and it feels like the abductor muscles on that side are not as strong. It’s getting better with time and practice though.

Hey @Michael_Elder - To answer your questions… No, you are not alone. It is very common to have a “weak” side. There can be several reasons for this. One could be a previous injury like you mentioned. And when this is the case we often develop a muscular imbalance as a “workaround” when left unaddressed the strength differences will continue to grow.

For your second question, consider modifying this exercise by bending your bottom knee and lifting from the knee rather than the foot. This effectively shortens your lever. Secondly, stay in this position and lower your hip then raise again. Do some extras (in the modified position) on the weak side (Just enough to get some fatigue in there) This is of course a general answer as I can’t evaluate you. But what I would recommend is trying to figure out if the weakness is coming from above or below the hip. (is it your glute medius (below) or lumbar stabilizers (above) or your shoulder? My guess is it’s your glute medius. If this is the case, doing isometrics -pressing the outside of your foot against the wall with a straight leg and holding will help. (think same position as the photo but standing). Another exercise that would be very helpful are single leg bridges with a rotation.

Muscular imbalances can develop from many causes. Most often it’s a simple tweak that causes us to protect some sore or damaged tissue. Unfortunately, most of us push through these little niggles. We change movement patterns and figure out a way to get the job done. No big deal. But the real truth is that often we have changed the course of the stream just enough to create some new patterns and reinforce imbalances.

Kudos to you for noticing and addressing this. Hope this helps.
Regards,
J

2 Likes

I agree w/ strength variance left & right. This is not only side planks (especially the leg lift & arm extended), but on the one leg exercises. Long time runner (40+ years) who did little stretching, bu still did well in competitions. I’d have a post race massage or just a one off massage and the comments was always “your way tight”. And i concur we compensate making the first problem worse.

Taking these Yoga and weight training lessons seriously now and getting slow improvement though the guided sessions.