T Nation

left side weakness


hey guys ive been training my friend for his first time ever really with lifting, and ive noticed his left arm is much weaker then his right. During DB bench press he has problems getting his left db up, while he can easily bang out the right side for a few more reps. Same with incline db curls. Any advice on how to improve his "left side" weakness to get it up to par with his right? thanks for any advice,



Do a number of reps for your weak side first, and then match the reps with your strong side. If the imbalance is severe, consider more reps or sets for your weak side. Imbalances really suck, but they need to be fixed.


You say this is his first time lifting? It shouldn't be surprising that there are some imbalances, then. Keep him training smart, good and heavy. I bet the imbalances will fix themselves in time. When I started, I had imbalances like his. I paid no special attention to my weak side with one exception: I started unilateral exercises like alternate dumbbell curls and dumbbell rows with my weak side first. Now the imbalances are gone, and thanks to this website, I don't waste my time doing a bunch of unilateral exercises anymore.


masturbate with your left hand!! ok, seriously though, generally an extra set is needed for your weaker side, eg. after doing say bench press, grab a dumbbell and hit 1 or 2 sets for your weaker side. as for normal exercises, you will want to push your weak as hard as it can go with good form, even if your stronger can do it easily.


thanks for the advice


i have a friend that has the same problem, but his left arm has some kind of disability I would say...I think he was born like that, so his left arm is weaker and his flexibility is not as good as his right arm...and when he is working out, lets say on his biceps, he can curl a 20 on his right arm easily but can only do like a 10lb on his right arm...any advice for him to improve other than doing more reps or sets for his right arm?


Here are my ideas:

  1. Use slightly higher weight on the weaker arm... For dumbells, a plate-mate or a large magnet works well, or even a larger dumbell.

  2. Taking an asymmetric grip on a barbell, ie, setting up about 3cm or so towards the stronger side will make the weaker side bear more weight.

  3. Pre-tire the weaker side. So do a single-armed set of bicep curls, for example, before moving to EZ bar curls. This initial set doesn't need to be heavy - anything that gives a bit of a pump or a burn will be fine.

  4. Train neurology. Often the asymmetry is due to weaker recruitment on the non-dominant side, especially in untrained individuals. A heavy set (4RM should be fine for a newbie) at the end of a workout, combined with the initial set from (3) above. Executing the extra set from (3) should be done with perfect technique.

  5. In single-sided excersises, for example, always do the weaker arm first. If you alternate arms, you may with to thow in a couple of extra reps on the weaker side at the end, if possible.

Just be careful, though, since, if left "untreated" the problem will only get worse (especially with HIT).


I haven't read the other replies but this is totally normal, bodybuilders have always been concerned with oddities in size from one side to the other, the more advanced they become the less noticable it becomes, same with beginning lifters! Nothing is even but the longer they lift the more "even" they'll get, I would not suggest extra lifts for the week arm as some would!! It will take care of itself.

As a small amount of intangible proof I've trained a lot of newbies and the ones that stuck around had there imbalances all but disappear over time.


Stay with DB exercises to make sure you don't cheat with the strong side. Include an extra set for the weak side in unilateral movements if the imbalance is very large. Let the weak side be your guide, do not do any extra reps with the strong side, only do as many reps with a weight as the weak side allows. For example, you said he had trouble with DB bench press, his left arm would give out, but he had a couple of reps left in the right. If you are working in an 8-10 rep range for exaomple choose a weight that he can get 8-10 perfect reps with the left side, and stop the set once the left arm is done even if the right arm can keep going. If he can get 8 with the left arm but 10 with right, stick with the same weight until he can get 10 with the left...just think of it as maintaining the right as you build up the left and fix the imbalance.