T Nation

One Side gets Pumped More than the Other?


this has become a major cause of concern for me. when i do upper body movements, but particularly on the pressing movements (shoulder/bench press), my right side gets pumped up but my left side is comparatively deflated.

just now i was barbell shoulder pressing and while my right shoulder got a major pump my left side did not feel much. my left side is weaker than my right side but in the barbell press i perform the movement symetrically. so even if im doing the movement symmetrically, why am i getting the pump only on one side?

i tend to shy away from dumbbells because my wrists are genetically unstable so my physio suggested i minimise db work.


I know that you wrote you shy away from dumbells because of wrist unstableness but i can only think of this solution to this problem .Maybe you can find other tools like bands or cable machine to solve it. if you do only barbell movements you likely wont fix this.

I hope you understand my bad english :slightly_smiling:
good luck!



How are you wrists genetically unstable? lol


theres like a weird gap between my 'hand' and the beginning of the 'hand'. its hard to explain but everytime i move my wrists i get clicking loud clicking noises.

so i guess the only solution is to do db work?

can i do lightweights for high volume or do i have to do heavyweights for low volume here? doing light weights for high volume might hypertrophy my left side a little bit more than my right and throw my symmetry off wouldnt it?


Unless there is something medically wrong with your wrists just do the dumbbells, build up some strength in your forearms.

Do the same rep range/ volume approach you used for all your other lifts.


The basic answer is that your body isn't perfoming the work symmetrically. For instance, I get more of a tricep pump in my left side from shoulder pressing, and a delt pump in my right side. The bar stays centered, and both ends move up evenly, but that's what happens.

The issue is probably due to some imbalance in the hips or shoulders, uneven leg lengths, not a perfectly straight spine, etc. Almost everyone has some imbalances of some kind. I haven't done this myself, but a chiropractor can probably help even out some of those. And mobility exercises can help loosen things up, since you might be tight on one side in some place and not on the other.


ah man this is gonna be pain in the ass to solve.

so basically i have to do unilateral work until the left and right side even out?

will i be performing unilateral work on only one side or both? with the weight being set by the weaker arm?


Man this is so similar to what I've been going through. I noticed that my right arm was always way more pumped than the left, then my wife commented that my sleeves on my right arm were always tight and loose on the left. I measured and my right arm is over an inch larger than the left and it's almost all in the tricep.

I started paying attention to my form and realized that when I was doing any pressing excercises, my right arm was always taking over. I did a lot of close grip pressing for tri's and I'm convinced that's what did it. My right arm was doing the bulk of the work and the left was basically just assisting.

About a month ago I started doing only dumbbell work and paying really close attention to my form. I think that's the key. I never realized that my right arm was working so much harder so I tried to focus on always locking out my left arm and making a good mind/muscle connection. It helped a lot, but the right arm is still significantly bigger. So now I'm only working the left arm and doing nothing for the right except what I get from heavy DB bench and overhead pressing. I haven't lost any size in the right and the left is catching up much faster. It's mentally hard to ignore one whole arm, but I think it will be worth it.

Also, I was convinced that my left wrist was weaker than the right because when I would bench heavy, my left wrist would bend back and the right was always straight. Turns out it was just weak and since I've focused on getting the left size stronger, it's straightened out.