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Left Side of Body is Much Smaller than Right


Hello, I am a male in my mid thirties. Have been lifting regularly for the past 3-4 years. Focusing on progressive overload via more weight/reps for last year and half mainly following a 4 day upper/lower split with S/B/D/OHP emphasis. Lower body has always been weak relative to upper. I figured this was technique related and last 12 months have really strived to tighten form on all lifts but especially squats and deads.

However I feel like deadlift form has actually gotten worse as I fail to consistently have the same technique. Squats have actually made great progress the last six months or so. I’ve went from 2252 to 2803 and around 6-7 weeks ago started experimenting with lower bar placement. This makes my squats feel much smoother and stronger but my left hip/mid glute area starts to feel painful. The pain then lingers (especially if I push it and try to get more reps/sets after the initial discomfort). Pretty sure I have a hip shift and have started doing more hip specific mobility I saw in JTS hip shift video. Prior to this I was doing mainly agile 8 and band pull aparts.
My left shoulder used to act up on occasion as well but for the last year I’ve consistently done face pulls/rows and pull aparts at least every training session.
As you can see in the photo everything on my right side is larger than my left. I don’t necessarily feel that much stronger on my right side and always match reps on DB bench/rows and split squats.
Either my left leg/arm are longer than my right or my right side(I am right handed) has just been over compensating all this time? Anyway I’ve been to the Ortho and have done physical therapy for sciatica from degenerative dehydration in my L5 S1 as shown in an MRI. That was in 2017 and I’ve been basically sciatica free but my left lower back does get much more achy and sore than my right. At a recent follow up I explained my current issues to the Ortho and she was unconcerned because she said real hip pain is felt in the groin and I probably just pulled something. She wants me to come back in March and then she will possibly write me a script for PT.

Anyway if you’ve made it this far and have any advice on things I can implement into my routine and mobility wise, I really appreciate it. I’ve already started doing basically all non main 4 lifts with dumbbells to.try to even myself out more but I’m nervous this imbalance could lead to a major injury.

For reference I’m 5’5
150 lbs
Current PRS
Squats 2802
BP 220
4
Deadlift 3153
OHP 140
5
Main training goals are to increase these#s as they have been around this for at least 6 months(apart from squats) and feel like this disproportionately larger right side of my body is partially to blame for current stagnation.
Thanks for taking the time to read and thanks in advance for any reply

Speaking to the title of the post, I suffer from that as well. Pretty bad actually. I’m hoping once I add more muscle it will look more balanced.
My current uneducated theory is this: I’m right side dominant and my left side is bigger and more defined. I think from using my right side so much that my body has adapted and gotten more efficient at creating as much power as needed. I’m doing so it recruits more things around the main muscle working to help.

It’s like my body has cheat codes to help it self as much as possible. Where as the left side isn’t usually called upon for the main tasks. So it’s not as good at recruiting other parts. Makes targeting JUST that muscle easier when working out and there fore that muscle gets more action during the isolation work.

If you shorten one on side of your clavicles it will look much more balanced.

More seriously, afew things to note:

  • Nobody is symmetrical
  • Most of the time, this does not lead to pain / paralyzation / whatever fearmongering comes up
  • If you are not going onto a bodybuilding (ie. getting on a stage in a getting), most people won’t notice

Now, that said I thought my left lat was significantly under developed compared to my right one. I went to a physio after some shoulder issues and after some tissue work and exercises, my lat reappeared lol and they looked far more balanced.

Some tissue work, corrective exercises and backing off weight to focus on movement may help you out.

4 Likes

Get a new ortho. A doc shouldn’t discount your concerns because “that injury usually feels like this”. Doc should evaluate you and make an educated decision.

This is in your control. Drop the weight if you’re not in control.

I disagree. Your shoulders are rolled forward something fierce. You see muscle discrepancies. I see postural issues.

Imbalance doesn’t necessarily = problem required solving. Having a look at your muscles isn’t a really good indicator. I don’t see shit in the photo.

Significant imbalance that is showing up in your lifting as real poor movement patterns may be worth taking a look at. Focus on movement quality. Strength, mobility, activation are all worth at look at. Squat University is a great resource: bunch of stuff on hip shift and how to work on it.

I probably should’ve evened out my lower body and focused on moving better instead of just pushing into it. Ended up injuring my back. Now my rehab is the pre hab stuff i shouldve been doing in the first place.

You’re gonna have to assess yourself and get info specific to your presentation.

EDIT: DBs may not solve issues e.g. if there’s a deficit left v right in your ability to get a tight stable back position then DBs will do nothing to fix that.

This is actually all very reassuring. I truly appreciate you all taking the time to take a look and reply. Any plans of attack for fixing my postural issues? I currently do pull aparts/ face pulls and more rows/chins than BP/OHP/DIPS.

RE Stability my left core/lower back is for sure weaker as I do the McGill 3 regularly and side planks are easier on right side vs left.
I’ll post some vid of my squats/deads in the next 24 hours. I appreciate any advice on form or glaring injuries waiting to happen type deal.

Also grateful for the civil responses I’ve gotten thus far. I’ve researched this topic in these forums and people do tend to open themselves to getting “roasted”. I was hoping that I was overplaying the imbalance thing in my head. So I’m happy that it doesn’t look to be a game changer and hopefully with more mobility work and better form it with sort itself out.

I think we’ve all been taught that a certain posture is ideal. I’ve experienced multiple injuries and I’m still dealing with an uncooperative shoulder. I think performance outweighs posture.

The reason your back looks asymmetrical is because of the bones underneath. Is it a problem? That’s for you to decide. As much as I hate static stretching, I actually think you could affect your posture with some stretching. Stretch your pecs, biceps, and internal rotators for starters.

That’s just a start. It’ll probably take more than that. The strange thing about tight muscles is that they tend to be weak, too. The muscles pulling your shoulders forward (pecs and internal rotators) still need attention.

I have all these saved for myself so I’ll drop dem here:

Links may be broken but go to squat uni