T Nation

Training with Torn Triceps


I don't remember where I read about this but supposedly studies have shown that when only one side/limb of the body is trained, the other side will receive (although less) a certain amount of stimulation for growth as well. In other words, the body does not allow one side to become overly dominant.

The reason I'm bringing this up is because I tore my left triceps a week ago doing seated dumbbell extensions. It hurt pretty bad and several days later I had some bruising under my arm. The pain has subsided and they are no longer sore to the touch, but I would think the earliest I could train them again would still be several weeks away (I tore my calf from a ski accident once and it took several months to fully heal).

I have skipped the last two triceps workouts due to the injury and now I'm wondering if training my good arm the entire time will cause the left to grow a bit(in this case heal a bit faster).

Any thoughts about this or has anyone heard about one-sided training?



This is interesting as I am in a similar position, I have medullary carcinoma, a type of cancer, and had operations in May and December of last year and another 3 weeks ago, all in the neck area.
In the first operation they removed the muscle in my upper right back/trap and I could only move my arm 2 inches at first. Currently I can just touch the top of my head with my right hand. My whole upper body and face is dead to touch on the surface with bad pins and needles and the traps I have left are in constant spasm.
Onto the point, any overhead pressing with the right arm in impossible. I cant stabilize a bar when bench pressing so do an adjusted dumbell b/press. I have problems with other lifts but these are the 2 that could create the main imbalance. I try to overhead press my right arm with some help with the other and im managing lateral raises.
I have only been back to the weights in the last 7 or 8 weeks and I am starting to regain some muscle that was lost in the time out. Bearing in mind anyone who can lift their hand over their head is stronger than me, my right side is only lagging a small, hardly noticable, amount behind my left. The difference in strength is huge but from outer appearances not very much.
It will probaly take alot of time before I can see any real decisive evidence either way but if youre not out for too long, from looking at myself, I think I would continue training the good arm.


Thanks for the input. I did train my good arm yesterday. It sounds like you should stick with laterals or cable laterals as I would assume you have most of your shoulder strength coming out of the bottom at this point. I do believe that training around an injury makes it heal faster, if for no other reason than the gym tends to lift spirit. Good luck to you KickingKing.


Training your good arm while the other is injured will likely help you maintain SOME strength in the bad one (though not as much as in the good one).

A muscle won't grow unless it is directly stimulated to do so. So the same carryover does not apply to size gain/maintenance.

As a side note, if any of your triceps were truly torn, you'd know it (in the form of a muscle balling up at one end of your upper arm).


I have experienced this somewhat myself after surgery on my left shoulder. While working my right I lost little size on my left side, strength was gone. The little size I lost in my shoulder and trap quickly returned after a month or 2 after using the left again.

The only thing I still have trouble with is my tris and bis. I can't feel my left arm working at all, and triceps strength is still lacking incredibly, even 2.5 years later. The size is fine though.

The long head of my left bicep feels the same. When I curl I can feel the short head work, but the long head is lax the entire range of motion. and my left bicep looks smaller and flatter than the right.

Edit: about a 1/2 inch difference in in arm size, almost all of which is the biceps


Thanks mate :slight_smile: good luck to you too, hope the recovery goes well. Ill keep at the laterals and trying to press my arm, hopefully by next year it will be better :slight_smile:



"Assuming you have a unilateral injury, you should be training the hell out of your good side. Not only will this provide the psychological benefit of keeping your training intensity high, and the physical benefit of keeping your "healthy side" strong, it'll also significantly improve the strength of your injured side."


Thanks Rumble Fish! That article was just what we needed.


No problem, I knew I had read that somewhere too and it was gonna' bug me if I didn't find it hahaha