Work both sides equally for even gains.
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Symmetry is an issue often overlooked by bodybuilders in the pursuit of size. Big muscles and low body fat are certainly key to your bodybuilding success, but having an unbalanced, unsymmetrical physique can seriously hamper your chances of winning contests. A prime example of when such an issue can arise is when your dominant arm is bigger than your non-dominant arm. This requires a targeted approach to training to correct.
Display of Dominance
Whenever you have to perform an everyday task, such as carrying groceries or lifting a box, you naturally use your dominant side. While this may not seem like a huge issue, the number of times you do this without thinking means that over the course of a week, month or year, your dominant arm is working much more than the non-dominant side, leading to more muscle stimulation and growth.
Dropping the Barbell
Compound barbell exercises, like bench presses and barbells rows, might be some of the best muscle-building moves out there, but they're not helping your symmetry. On barbell exercises, your stronger dominant arm will always take more of the weight, whether you're conscious of it or not, claims strength coach Alwyn Cosgrove. Instead of barbell curls, barbell bench presses and T-bar rows, switch to dumbbell chest presses, dumbbell curls and single-arm cable or dumbbell rows.
Put Your Worst Arm First
Add more unilateral exercises into your routine and train your non-dominant side first, advises Lyle McDonald of Body Recomposition. This means you have more energy to put into the weaker arm. Perform as many reps as you can on the weak side, then match this with your dominant side. Another option is to perform double the number of sets on the non-dominant side as a way of increasing workout volume. This works well on exercises like single-arm chest presses, one-arm rows, alternating curls and single-arm push-downs or pull-downs.
Strength coach Ben Bruno of Mike Boyle Strength and Conditioning has a different suggestion. According to Bruno, working the weak side first and matching the reps on your dominant side means you're not pushing yourself hard enough. Instead, perform a maximum number of reps on the dominant side, then switch to the non-dominant arm and perform a max. Rest briefly, then go again until you reach the same number of total repetitions. As an example, if you can single-arm overhead press a 40-pound dumbbell for 12 reps on your dominant arm, your non-dominant side set may be seven reps, followed by a 10-second rest, three reps, another 10-second rest, then a final two reps.