If I do an exercise using only one side of my body, and i can do more repetions with one side (for example: I can do more reps with my right arm), should i only do as many repetitions as my weaker side masters, or should I continue to work with the stronger side, when the weaker side already can't go on?

  • I cannot remember where I have read that the solution lies in doing dumbbell versions, starting always by the weaker side (in case it is a one-arm version) and limiting the stronger side to the same number of reps you have accomplished with the weaker limb, although this results in not enough stimulus for the stronger side. But it seems reasonable that this should lead the weaker side to eventually catch up with the other side. In any case undertraining the stronger limb must be safer than overtraining the weaker one.
    – Mephisto
    Commented Sep 18, 2013 at 19:27

2 Answers 2


Exaggerating imbalances is generally not something I want to do. If I can do more pistol squats with my left leg than my right, I'll do some extra pistol squats and lunges with my right leg to catch it back up to speed. The same goes for arm work like overhead presses. In practical terms, I accomplish this with extra sets on the weak side, rather than trying to eke out extra reps in the existing sets.


I would recommend to use a barbell to train your both arms at the same time orient around barbell oriented compound multi-arm movements like barbell curl, preacher curl, ez-barbell curl. If you don't have access to that, get a broomstick, fill 2 identical bottles with water and tie them on to the equal ends from each end. Do a lot of high repetitions (either 2+ sets 21(7-7-7) see this for further reference or 3+ sets of 15 reps each till you have the feeling that the strenght is well balanced)

But also please see a doctor to check whether your motoric and parasympathetic nervous system is in good order. It might also be caused by a disorder or a nerve issue in your neck.

@All comments below my answer: Appearently I had to re-vise this which might come due to my short-circuit explanation. After being an Olympic trainee for martial arts for more than 8 years in my youth, and seeing hunderds of Olympic sports doctors and physicians and therapeutics who taught me thoroughly on how to observe imbalances in my body and take action to recover, I just shared my conclusions. There is not a side less stronger than the other in human body, mechanically unless there are multiple imbalances or a disturbance in nervous system or blood circulation issues..... period! And if you have mobility issues due to other reasons that I stated below, than you should find the cause and take action.

Many of those imbalances come through irregularities in lifestyle (a Quagmire arm to Google for e.g.). Also many see symptoms for a cause which ends up in either having extra injuries on top or turning injury to inabilities. Preventing an injury does not only depend on the good form but also on the good choice of right exercise at the right time and knowing how the kinetic chain of a given exercise works to observe whether you are doing your reps in good form or not. Working out is not only fiddling around with weights, when done improperly, you end up wasting your time and money...

Why do I get the feeling that no one has taught you folks about the "human body adaption and recovery?"

And what's wrong with advising someone to see a doctor? are we here to give advise as professionals?

In case you need more thorough explanation or references in case you have the feeling that my explanation comes short, feel free to request and I'll make sure they will be added in my answer. For the sake of convinence, I'll just keep the post clear of confusing proofs...

P.S.: Also, it is good to have the "Atlas of Human Anatomy" by Frank Netter, MD (3rd edition) at home if you wanna understand your body more.

  • 2
    I'm not sure why you'd jump from "one side of my body is stronger than the other" (this is true for most people, especially those who don't have much/any experience with weight lifting) to "please see a doctor". There's also the risk with compound barbell movements that they'll be compensating with the stronger side, and therefore not working the weaker side as much as they would be with single arm exercises. Commented Sep 18, 2013 at 13:49
  • Is there any evidence that it could be a nerve issue? I mean is there any supporting link that you can share?
    – Freakyuser
    Commented Sep 18, 2013 at 16:32
  • 2
    My (-1) is because I keep on reading everywhere (and it also seems sort of reasonable) just the opposite: muscle imbalances are best corrected switching to dumbbell versions of the exercises, since that forces both sides to work more independently than the barbell version.
    – Mephisto
    Commented Sep 18, 2013 at 19:14

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