I started going to the gym about 3 weeks ago. I workout on Monday, Wednesday and Friday where I do chest, back and core, biceps, triceps and shoulders, legs and butt. So far it’s working really well and I’m keeping a workout journal which I find helps a lot to keep me motivated. However, I’m finding that my right arm is a bit weaker than my left. Should I still lift the same weights on each side or should I use lighter weight on the weaker arm?
It depends on the severity of the weakness in your arm. Most people have a dominant or stronger side which is totally normal and they will develop a small size difference on a muscle group like the pecs. If there is a small amount of weakness or size difference in the muscle group, then it’s probably nothing to really worry about. However, if you have a noticeable difference in your strength on one arm or the overall size of a muscle group (like your left pec is much larger than your right pec), then you need to work on resolving these issues because your overall goal is symmetry in both the cosmetic aspect (how you look) and also the functional aspect (strength levels).
The best way to go about working on regaining the strength in the weaker muscle group or body part is to add additional resistance work to the weaker area when you’re training. This additional work can come in the form of added weight resistance, a few more sets or additional reps. In your case since your right arm is a little weaker than your left arm, you can add 1-2 more sets using just your right arm when you’re doing one arm exercises such as dumbbell curls, one arm machine curls or dumbbell hammer curls.
Along with a few additional sets, you can also choose the option of adding 6-8 more reps per set with your weaker arm. This allows the same results as doing the extra sets but saves a little time since you can do this during your actual set for the exercise versus doing 1-2 separate sets for the weaker arm once you finish.
Your final option to strengthen your weaker right arm is to choose a heavier weight when doing one arm exercises like dumbbell curls. If you normally use 30 pound dumbbells for each arm, then choose a 35 pound dumbbell for your right arm only and continue doing the set with the 30 pound dumbbell for your left arm. By adding additional weight to your right arm, this should help to increase the strength on that side. Over the course of a few months you should see the improvement in strength in that arm and hopefully it will start to become proportionate with your other arm.
Try to avoid using a lighter weight on your weaker arm since you don’t want to lose any additional muscle size or strength in that arm. If you use a lighter weight, then your arm will get weaker versus building up your weak arm and making it stronger. Your goal should always be to try to increase the weight during your workouts so you can shock your muscles into growth which will help you become bigger and stronger.
I want to congratulate you on keeping a workout journal! This is one of the most important things to do in order to keep track of your workouts so you can document your progress and continue to improve. So many people do not take advantage of keeping a workout journal where they can log all of their exercises, sets, reps and the weight they use. This data is crucial when looking back weeks, months and even years down the road when you hit a plateau and really need to review the data to figure out what is going on.
It’s also very important to keep a diet journal so you can log all of the foods you are eating on a daily basis to make sure you’re eating enough overall calories and macronutrients in order to rebuild the muscle fibers that you are breaking down every time you workout. It’s critical that you eat enough protein to get the amino acids which are the building blocks your body needs to build lean muscle tissue. Your goal should be to eat 1 gram per pound of body weight every day. For example, if you weigh 200 pounds then you should eat a total of 200 grams of protein per day and divide this number up into 5-6 meals throughout the day. For every meal you eat you will include around 35-40 grams of protein in it. Choose from lean sources such as skinless chicken breast, egg whites, turkey breast, lean red meat and fish. If you need a quick and affordable protein source during the day, choose a whey protein powder and mix up a shake that you can take with you to school or keep in the office at work.
Along with your protein intake, you also need to choose the right carbs and fats to include into your nutrition plan. Choose nutrient dense carbs such as sweet potatoes, yams, brown rice, oatmeal (old fashioned), whole wheat pasta, Ezekiel bread and quinoa. Eating these healthy carbs will provide the glycogen your body needs to restore levels and also provide the energy needed for intense workouts.
For fats, choose healthy sources such as EVOO (extra virgin olive oil), macadamia nut oil, nuts (almonds, walnuts, Brazil nuts), avocados, olives, salmon, sardines, all natural peanut butter, fish oil and flaxseed oil.
Another great tool to add to your workout and diet journals is to take weekly photos of yourself to track and monitor your physique to see if you are building muscle mass and burning body fat. By combining a workout journal along with a diet journal and taking weekly photos, you have everything you need to keep an extremely beneficial fitness diary and track all of the core elements that it takes to reach your physique goals!