One muscle is bigger than the other…How do i fix?

August 6, 2009 by  
Filed under The Fitness Bug

one arm bigger than the otherOver the years I have met a lot of people in various gyms. Every now and again I would meet some one that would complain about one arm, leg or chest muscle being bigger than the other. In general neither both sides of the human body are equal, and any differences that you see are usually only spotted by yourself. But in regards to working out, muscles that are bigger than the other may sometimes be noticeable by the masses. This isn’t really a huge problem, but it does make you feel like a bit of a human freak of nature :o . It made the guys I met feel like that, and myself. But mine started to occur as a result from a shoulder injury. The obvious reasons for this occurrence would be from performing inconsistent repetitions in your exercises… and/or with UNEVEN weights! . The solution to that problem is simple… learn how to count! (Dummy)

But It can also happen for a number of VALID reasons to:

  • Genetic
  • Reduced circulation or innervation’s (which is basically the amount of nerves going to the muscle) to your smaller muscles
  • Previous injuries

For me it was always injury that caused most of this imbalance. To fix it, I would deflate in size, correct and then inflate again. But after a while I found that, that was not the best way to go about solving the problem (What can I say, I was young :| )

If you have suffered like myself or if you look like the guy in the picture :o, then the following (detailed) techniques will help you to even out those lagging body parts once and for all!

“One and Two and One” Reps

This is a dumbbell technique that increases the training volume for the smaller muscle groups. For this technique, you’ll use the same dumbbells in both hands.

Start with one rep with the smaller arm. For example, if you’re doing curls, do one dumbbell curl with your left arm. Now do a single rep with BOTH arms (right and left) at the same time. Immediately do another rep with the smaller arm again.

Your smaller body part will end up getting 50% more work than the larger side.

“One and Two and One” Sets

This approach is very similar to the rep technique above. But this time, you will do one set of an exercise for just that single side, rest, then do a set that works both sides. Then you’ll go back and do a set with just the smaller side again. This will also increase the “smaller-side” workload by about 50%.

This approach also utilizes dumbbells rather than barbells in order to allow for single-limb movements.

This “staggered set” approach is more effective for leg exercises than the “staggered rep” technique explained above, simply because it’s tough to find an exercise that you can do the “rep” technique effectively with. For legs, you will follow the exact same routine, doing a single-leg set, then a double-leg set, and then a single leg set.

Uneven Weights (The cause can be the solution!)

To do this technique, hold a dumbbell that is somewhat heavier in the hand of your weaker side. This can be a 5 to 10 pound or more difference, depending on the exercise. Do your set as you normally would, but stop completely when your weak side can’t continue.

This technique increases the resistance on the weaker side, helping to bring it up to the level of the stronger side. Stopping the exercise when the weak side is fatigued ensures that the strong side does not get stimulated as much. This allows the weaker side to more easily catch up.

Use Dumbbells For All of Your Exercises

Dumbbells force each side of the body to take full responsibility for their part in the movement. When using machines or barbells, the strong side can have a tendency to take over the movement and assist the weak side, limiting its development.

Simply switching to completely dumbbell-based training for a period of time can help bring up the lagging part quickly without even having to use these special techniques.

Targeted Negatives

Finish each body part workout with a single set of negative training for the weak side limb. For example, if your left bicep is weaker, when you’ve finished your regular bicep workout, do one set of negative-only training for the left bicep.

One of my favourite ways to do negative training for biceps is using the Preacher Bench. The bench allows you to stabilize your upper arm more effectively than if you are standing.

Sit on the bench and hold a heavy dumbbell in one hand (the weight should be just a little higher than your 1 rep max). Now use your other arm to help with the “up” phase of the movement.

Once you’re at the top, start to lower the weight down. Fight gravity all the way down – don’t just try and slow the weight down…actively try and lift it up while gravity is forcing it down. This is the most effective way to execute negative training.

Have your free hand ready to slow the dumbbell to keep it from slamming your arm down if you lose strength.

This technique will help to build strength in the target muscle, helping to address the innervation issues that may be causing the lagging development.

Targeted High-Rep Training

Start each body part workout with one light, high-rep set for the weak side muscle. For example, for a smaller or weaker right triceps, start each tricep workout with one set of high-rep single-arm pushdowns. High-rep in this case means 50+ reps.

This very high rep set will help to increase circulation to the target muscle, improving its ability to gain mass. This increase in circulation means more available blood, which means more nutrients get to the muscle, which means more muscle growth!

If you’ve got a lesser-developed muscle on one side of your body, give these training techniques a try. They can help you rapidly even out differences between your two sides. Then you will feel like less of a human freak of nature :).

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