If you’ve been spending a lot time in the gym and kitchen trying improve your physique, it can be frustrating if one arm becomes bigger than the other.
In terms of strength you probably aren’t concerned, but if you can notice it in the mirror it may start to bother you.
Luckily, there are a few great way to mitigate muscle imbalance and build up your weaker side, so that your physique is more symmetrical, which is the goal in bodybuilding.
Why Is My Left Tricep Stronger?
If it is your dominant arm and you use it for everyday activities, this can be a reason why. If you don’t incorporate enough single arm exercise into your tricep training, this is most likely another factor. Also consider doing more dumbbell movements and making sure that your form is perfect.
You Are Left Handed
If you are constantly using your left hand for activities or sports, the muscles can become more developed than the ones in your non-dominant arm.
Many people also tend to train their dominant arm more without even realizing it. Most exercises will feel a lot easier to do with your dominant arm, so most people find it to be stronger.
Try to make sure that you are training both arms with the same intensity and amount of reps and weight.
Some people also experience the complete opposite. That is, their non-dominant arm is stronger than the dominant one.
This is because you use your dominant arm for everything which builds up muscle memory and allows you to easily perform activities without using up much energy.
However, to use your non-dominant hand for something requires a lot more energy because you aren’t used to it. You would really have to think hard about writing a sentence or swinging a racket with your non-dominant arm.
You Aren’t Doing Enough Single-Arm Exercises
If you do mainly movements where both arms are working at a time then the stronger one can take over. This happens in movements such as close grip bench press, skull crushes, and overhead dumbbell extensions.
Anything that uses a barbell will allow the weaker arm to take over the movement rather than both arms working equally. So does this mean that you should ditch barbell training? Of course not, compound exercises are a must in your training.
Instead, just make sure that you are incorporating iso-lateral movements in your training.
If your left tricep is slightly stronger, than it can easily take over in the movement and the right will not be worked to the same degree.
Many people will just have one arm that responds to training more than other, leading to imbalance. It is common and is difficult to prevent.
How To Prevent Muscle Imbalance
Start incorporating exercises where you only work one arm at time. A single cable push down is a great example. This will prevent the stronger arm from taking over the movement.
Try to have as many exercises where your focus on one arm at a time in your training. Make sure that you are doing the same number of repetitions for each arm to prevent imbalance.
Consider using dumbbells rather than barbells for your triceps. Instead of a barbell overhead extension, use a one-arm dumbbell extension.
Focus on the rope! The tricep rope push down is very efficient for training both triceps without letting one take over. In addition, it will also train all three heads of the triceps, resulting in a lot of muscle growth.
Really make sure you are using mind to muscle connection. This is where you mentally think about squeezing the muscle group that you are working. Your mind to muscle connection may be lacking on your weaker arm.
Slowing your movements down and lower the weight are clever ways to help with this.
If it’s clearly noticeable that one arm is bigger, consider doing an extra set or 2 on the weaker arm. Then you can judge if you need to add anymore if they are evening out or not.
Having correct form is something that will also help. For most tricep exercises such as push downs, you want your elbows to be pinned down to your sides and they shouldn’t move throughout the movement.
Consider watching yourself perform tricep exercises in a mirror or recording yourself to make sure your form is correct.
Another great tip is to always let your weaker arm start and decide how many sets you will be doing. When doing one-arm cable rows, start with the left arm. If you fail on rep 10, then make sure that you do the same amount of reps with your right arm.
Best Exercises For Muscular Imbalances
Lying dumbbell skull crushers are great as each arm has to do the same amount of work. Grab a dumbbell in each hand and lie on your back on a flat or slightly inclined bench.
Press your arms up straight in front of your shoulders with your palms facing each other. Slowly bend at the elbows bringing the dumbbells down just past your head. Squeeze the triceps to bring the dumbbells all the way back up so that your arms are fully extended.
This will allow each arm to do the same amount of work unlike in a barbell skull crusher where the stronger arm can take over.
Don’t rock the arms and start with lighter weight before building up.
The one-arm cable push down is another great way to train your weaker arm. Simply set a handle cable attachment at your head height, and grab it and bring your elbow down tight to your side. Now extend your forearm down while flexing your tricep and then returning.
Try out the tricep kickback to put some size on your arms and fix your muscle imbalance. Grab a dumbbell with each hand and bend at the waist so that your chest is parallel to the floor.
Keep you arm parallel with your spine and your elbow tucked into your body. Squeeze your tricep as you straighten your elbow. Only your forearm should be moving and your upper arm should remain tucked into your body.
Dangers Of Muscle Imbalances
Having one arm stronger doesn’t only look strange, it can also lead to negative physical issues. This includes limited mobility, pain, and instability.
It can cause other muscle groups to have to work harder to compensate for the imbalance, which can lead to pain and irritation.
Instability can become increasingly dangerous and lead to damaged joints, ligaments, tendons and muscles. They can become so severe that they actually lead to injury, putting you out of the gym.
A great way to prevent muscle imbalance is to train all of your muscle groups.
Make sure that you include uni-lateral movements that only work one arm at a time.
Learn correct form for all the exercises that you are doing.
If you notice one tricep is bigger or more defined than the other, consider training the weaker one more.