Just recently I noticed that I have a muscle imbalance in my chest. Even though I am right-handed, the left side of my chest (upper pecs, shoulders) are much more defined than my right.

This mildly impacted my overhead press, but given the simplicity of the lift, I never noticed that there was a power imbalance. It wasn't until I started doing more technical and explosive lifts like the power clean that I noticed how severe the imbalance is. When doing cleans it is very hard for my right arm to keep pace with the left, and as a result when I come down to the lowest point in the lift at the catch, my left arm ends up taking the majority of the weight until the right arm catches up.

Obviously this is very problematic, and something that needs to be fixed before I can continue doing cleans. My question is, what is the best way to address this imbalance and prevent it from presenting itself again?

  • do you do barbell work only or do you also use dumbbells?
    – Robin Ashe
    Aug 25, 2012 at 21:54

1 Answer 1


Since your question gives the impression that you are at least a somewhat experienced person when it comes to exercising and working out, then there are two possibilities that suggest themselves.

  1. Improper form - You've got something in your lifting form that is wrong so you get an imbalance in how the muscles are being used. It's either learned or your body itself has a difference (See #2)
  2. Body imbalance - You've got something different between the two sides of your body, either compensating for an old injury which caused you to learn bad form (See #1), or you have a difference such as different length arms that is causing it.

In either case, the suggestion would be the same: Get a pro to look at your form, and see if it is something in your lifting form, or possibly a body imbalance of some sort.

As far as correcting it, you would need to correct the underlying cause, but isolation work on that side will help address the imbalance, as well as being aware and not letting your dominant side take over on compound movements/lifts.

  • Doing isolation work on a single side, even if it is slightly weaker, seems like a bad idea to me. Would that really address the imbalance, or just shift it from one side to another?
    – Moses
    Aug 28, 2012 at 17:31

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