If your pecs are different sizes, you can correct this by performing unilateral exercises that work each pec independently. These are exercises such as dumbbell bench press, dumbbell flyes, cable crossovers, and push-ups with one arm elevated. This will isolate each pectoral muscle so the smaller one will catch up. Exercises that work both pecs at the same time should be removed from your routine. When you do barbell bench press and dips it is easy to overcompensate with your larger pec and worsen your muscle imbalances. Make sure to give your smaller pec extra work and prioritize flexibility on your weaker side.
What Causes Pec Muscle Imbalance?
If one of your pecs is larger than the other this could be due to genetics, dominant hand usage, and differences in activity levels. It’s also possible that an injury or condition has caused uneven muscle growth. In most cases, performing bilateral chest exercises (such as barbell bench press) worsen the muscle imbalance. This is because the stronger side does more of the lifting when both sides are used together.
- Genetic predisposition for a stronger side.
- One side is stronger because it is your dominant side (the right side for right-handed people).
- A previous injury that inhibits growth in one pec.
- Performing bilateral chest exercises (such as barbell bench press).
To correct a pec imbalance, focus on exercises that target the smaller pec to help even out muscle growth. It’s important to maintain balance in muscle development to prevent any potential posture or injury issues in the future. You’ll be stronger, healthier, and less likely to suffer an injury if your muscles are balanced on both sides.
6 Ways to Correct One Pec That is Bigger Than the Other
My left pectoral is naturally slightly larger and stronger than my right pec. However, I was able to balance my pec muscle size with these tips. Incorporate these tactics into your workout plan for 30 to 90 days and you will see real results.
Prioritize Unilateral Chest Exercises
Change your chest workout routine to prioritize exercises that work each side of your chest independently. This way, each pectoral has to work on its own to move the weight. This will force your weaker pec to work to move the weight without any help from the stronger side. The best exercises to add to your routine are:
- Dumbbell bench press.
- Dumbbell chest flyes.
- Cable flyes.
- Cables crossovers.
- Push-ups with one arm elevated.
- Archer push-ups.
Each of these exercises works your pecs independently. Plus, we have some tips below that make these movements even more effective for correcting pectoral muscle imbalance.
Perform Fewer Bilateral Chest Exercises
Bilateral chest exercises require you to use both sides of your chest to move the same weight. Barbell bench press and dips are two common examples of bilateral chest movements. These exercises allow you to use your stronger pectoral to do more of the work, which can actually make your muscle imbalance worse. So, it’s best to remove these exercises from your routine or leave them until the end of your chest workout.
- Exercises like barbell bench and dips can make pec imbalances worse.
- Lifting one weight with both arms allows your stronger side to do more work than the weaker side.
- Remove these exercises from your chest routine until your pec sizes are even.
Although bilateral exercises allow you to move more weight overall and are great for strength training, they can cause or exaggerate different-sized pecs. Once you have corrected your pec imbalance with the tips in this article, gradually add bilateral exercises back into your routine. However, focus on maintaining proper form so you work both pectorals equally.
Try Single-Arm Flyes and Bench
To make your unilateral exercises more effective, make sure to focus on each pec one at a time. This will allow you to lift with proper form and get a full workout for each pec. This leads to increased muscle development on your weak side, which results in symmetrical muscles. Here’s how to make unilateral exercises even more effective:
- While doing dumbbell bench press, alternate arms so you are pressing one dumbbell at a time.
- You can also do dumbbell press with a single dumbbell—just complete your reps with one side, then switch to the other.
- If you are doing dumbbell flyes, use only one dumbbell. Hold the dumbbell in your right hand and complete your reps, then switch to the left hand.
- Elevate one hand while doing push-ups, so the other side does most of the work. Complete your reps, then switch so the other hand is elevated.
These methods may make your workout take a bit longer to complete, but they will result in better chest development. It’s well worth taking the time to work on each side independently. You’ll see much greater muscle growth on your weak side.
Prioritize Your Weaker Side
Whenever you are performing a chest workout, work your smaller pec first. So, if you are doing dumbbell press of chest flyes with a single dumbbell, always work your weak side before you switch to your strong side. You’ll have more energy during the beginning of your workout and the start of each set, so you’ll get a better workout for your weak side. This results in more growth for your smaller pec.
- Do sets and reps for your weaker side first, while you have the most energy.
- Perform sets and reps for your stronger pec second.
- Use the same weight and resistance for both pecs, even during unilateral exercises.
Although it’s a great idea to focus on your weaker side to correct differently-sized pecs, do not entirely neglect your stronger side. You should still do the same number of sets for both sides of your chest. Just make sure to use the same weight for each side, even if it’s less challenging for your stronger pec.
Superset Your Smaller Pec
One of the best ways to increase the muscle mass of a smaller pectoral is to do extra work on your weaker side. My favorite way to do this is with mini-supersets. Here’s my strategy for building even pecs:
- Do your reps for your weak pec first (for instance, 8 reps of dumbbell flyes for your left side).
- Perform the same number of reps for your stronger pec (8 dumbbell flyes for your right side).
- Perform 2 to 4 more reps for your weak side (an additional 4 flyes working your left pec).
- Rest for 60 to 90 seconds.
- Repeat for 3 to 5 total sets.
This system allows you to get in a little bit of extra work for your weaker pec with each set. This way, your smaller pec will be encouraged to grow more. By doing this consistently, your smaller pec will increase in size until it matches your larger pec.
Focus on Stretching
In order to correct a chest muscle imbalance, it is essential to build flexibility and mobility on your weaker side. If your shoulder, upper back, and chest are less flexible on one side, this can inhibit your range of motion during exercise. This leads to a less complete workout, which results in one pec being smaller than the other. To prevent this, perform these stretches after each chest workout:
- Shoulder circles.
- Cross-body shoulder stretch.
- Triceps stretch.
- Eagle arm stretch.
- Arms backward chest stretch.
- Bent-arm wall stretch.
If you’re not familiar with any of these stretches, examples and tutorials for each of them are available online. Focus on building shoulder mobility, since this allows for full range of motion and a better chest workout.
What Should You Do if One Pec is Bigger than the Other?
If you have one pec that is noticeably larger than the other, there are several steps you can take to address the imbalance:
- Load your chest workouts with exercises that work each side of your chest independently, such as dumbbell bench press and chest flyes.
- For now, stop doing chest exercises that use both arms to move the weight, since this allows the stronger side to do more work. Barbell bench press and dips are both exercises you should avoid if your pecs are different sizes.
- Work each side one at a time when doing unilateral chest exercises.
- Do reps for your weaker side first during each set of a chest exercise.
- Add additional reps for your weak pec at the end of each set.
- Stretch your shoulders and chest after each chest workout.
These same principles can be applied to muscle imbalances anywhere in your body. I’ve used them to correct muscle imbalances in my chest, biceps, quadriceps, and calves, so I know they can work for you too.