T Nation

Body symmetry

I’ve been working out on and off for roughly the past 7 or 8 years now. Ever since the beginning, I have always noticed that muscles on the left side of my body are significantly smaller than the ones on my right (and weaker for some exercises). I have been trying to correct this by focusing more on my left side mentally and kind of “flexing” more during movements. For example, during barbell curls, I’ll make sure the bar is completely even so I am not cheating with my right arm and make sure my left bicep is flexing as much as I can.

PROBLEM. For some reason, my left muscles seem kind of “retarded.” It’s extremely irritating. During a set, I will start to feel the burn in my right side of the body but not the left! There is nothing more irritating than doing a set and suddenly getting fatigued but only on one side of the body! I know that I am not cheating with my right side either. How can this be happening? It almost feels as though the muscles in my left arm didn’t “exist” … which is why I don’t feel the burn. I might be a little obsessed since my friends say they can’t notice a difference, but I think it is definitely there.

BTW, I suffered a shoulder injury about 5 years ago and never went to see a doctor for it. It left me unable to move my left shoulder without pain for a week or so but eventually it healed by itself. Occasionally I have shoulder pains but they always go away. I wonder if this has caused all the muscles in my left arm (bicep, tricep, shoulder, even chest) to be unable to develop properly?

I also know I am not psychologically envisioning the whole thing cuz when I wear tight tee-shirts I feel it much tighter on my right side than my left. During some single arm dumbbell exercises, my left arm gives out much faster too :frowning:

My guess is you have some nerve damage and/or impingement in the left shoulder that needs correction. You probably wouldn’t have this problem today if you’d given it proper attention at the start.

Maybe you should an A.R.T. therapist for this problem if you can. As for the weaker side, I seem to recall something written here on T-mag about doing an extra set for your weak side (I think its in the one arm a day article)

Its probably somewhat psychological; my left is somewhat smaller than my right side. Its in the arms only, so I am using the priority principle (working lagging body parts first), and at times, I will double split on the left arm only. I have noticed a diff and my left is starting to catch up to my right. I have no issues with my shoulders (in other words, I can do side laterals equally on both sides). The more you think about it, the worse it will be if it is psychological. I have shoulder pains at times too; just comes with the territory. Clearly, its impossible for me to gauge what you mean by “shoulder pain” but having it hurt for a week after an injury suggests it wasn’t too bad.

I told my friends that I was working the left arm a little more and they were like “my left arm is a little smaller” and I have another friend who’s delts even are a little smaller on the left side. Just comes with the territory I guess. If you decide to see a doc about it, go for it, but if you feel ok lifting without pain, try double-splitting your left delt, bicep and tricep once a week and tear them down. Don’t worry about people wondering what you are doing; the easiest way to do this for me is to use the chest free-motion machine. I put one of the arms up, one down working tris on one, bis on the other. A cable station would work for this too if you feel like you will look like a dork using dumbbells on one side only. Give it a try for a month and see what happens; make sure you are eating well.

You will also notice that your symmetry is off more if you have more bodyfat. The leaner I get, the less I worry about it because your delts start to pop out and you look more “balanced”. Its unlikely that you’ll be perfect but you can always try to get there.

Good luck