T Nation

Big Muscle Imbalance After Injury

I started lifting and dieting seriously about a year and a half ago. I gained 30 pounds, to 170 from 140. I felt great and make continuous size and strength improvements.

I injured a tendon in my right armpit area and was forced to take a month off of bench press. Shoulders and triceps still felt fine to exercise and I continued with the rest of my routine, legs, pulling, etc.

I got back into it slowly increasing weight 10 pounds per week on bench after my month off to make sure I was healed. All was well, so I dove back in last week.

I’m not sure what has happened, or why I didn’t notice this before, but my entire left side has shrunk a huge amount. Left lat, trap, tricep, forearm, pec have shrunk and are weaker than my right side. I don’t think this is as easy as doing an extra rep on the left side to correct. Any advice is greatly appreciated. Lifting is my life now and I’m completely lost as to what to do as I can’t get a good workout in anymore with how imbalanced I am.

If you’ve been lifting for a year and a half and weigh 170 you probably don’t have enough muscle mass to cause a glaring asymmetry so it’s likely one of those things that is a lot more noticeable to you than anyone else.

Why do you think your situation can’t improve with unilateral work?
I would recommend unilateral work starting with the “weak” side and then match the reps on the other side.

Is your barbell work limited by the weaker side?
As long as your form isn’t breaking down the weak side should limit your work temporarily and increase in strength/size to catch up.

You’re worrying a lot about nothing in my opinion. Do your mobility and prehab work to try to avoid these injuries in the future. The most important–and often overlooked–part of lifting is staying healthy. The biggest guys got that way by being consistent. You can’t be consistent if you’re injured.

I hope I am over reacting. I assure you though, especially in my left trap and lat there is a very obvious size difference when I look in the mirror. I guess I will keep doing unilateral work, but to this point it feels so far off that after two weeks, not much has changed. I may be forced to post a picture.

Recovering from an injury is a month to month thing, not a 2 weeks thing. Don’t get discouraged, trust the work you’re doing. If a glaring strength difference continues after a couple months then getting it checked out by someone who does functional assessment should be considered.