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Uneven triceps: 5 reasons why you have one tricep bigger than the other

Fix your uneven triceps with these proven training tips.
Written By  James Jackson
Last Updated on 2nd May 2022
A man flexing his uneven triceps

Uneven triceps can make your arms look imbalanced and unsymmetrical, something that can be particularly frustrating if you're a competitive physique athlete.

As anyone who trains for aesthetics knows, having a well-balanced and mostly symmetrical physique will make your body look better and more pleasing to the eye.

If you have one tricep that's bigger than the other, then it could be for one or more of the following reasons.

5 reasons why you have uneven triceps

Here are 5 reasons why your right tricep is bigger than your left tricep (or vice versa).

1. You do too many barbell exercises

A man performing a close grip bench press

Barbell exercises are great for packing on mass, but they're not ideal for sculpting a symmetrical set of triceps. This is simply because your dominant arm can often do more of the lifting in exercises such as the close grip bench press.

Add in the fact that you often can't see that the bar is lopsided, and it's obvious how barbell exercises can lead to long-term tricep muscle imbalances.

Obviously, you can do barbell overhead extensions in a mirror to keep an eye on your form. However, during lying exercises, you might struggle to keep the bar straight.

2. You have a poor mind-muscle connection with one arm

A man showing that his right tricep is smaller than his left

Even if you're doing the best tricep workout with dumbbells out there, a poor mind-muscle connection can still lead to one of your triceps getting better stimulation than the other.

For this reason, I recommend training your less developed triceps first whenever you work your arms separately. This way, you can train your weaker side when you're at your freshest and strongest.

Chances are you can effortlessly stretch and contract your stronger triceps muscle, whereas it can often be tough to feel your weak triceps muscle working.

If this is the case for you, focus as intensely as you can on lifting the weight in a controlled manner so that you can put as much tension through your triceps as possible. More on that later.

3. You've had elbow problems in the past

A man holding his elbow

If you have one elbow that often causes you trouble, then it could prevent you from training your less developed triceps muscle to its full potential.

Elbow discomfort may impair your mind-muscle connection and force you to lift lighter weights, which could prevent your smaller tricep from catching up to your bigger tricep.

Of course, if both of your elbows feel uncomfortable, then joint pain might not be the cause of you having one tricep that's smaller than the other. Still, it's a potential issue that can lead to uneven triceps.

4. You have different tricep genetics

A man who clearly has one tricep bigger than the other

Out of all the reasons for having one tricep that's more developed than the other, I'd say that having differing tricep genetics is the least likely.

Still, it's possible that you could have a high tricep insertion on one arm that makes it look smaller than your other tricep.

Most lifters tend to have very similar-looking triceps, but there's always a chance that you could have asymmetrical muscle insertions. If this is the case for you, then you'll just have to live with it because there are no exercises that can physically change the insertions of your triceps.

5. You rely on your dominant arm

A man using a vacuum cleaner

If you play or played a particular sport in which you relied on one arm over the other, then that overreliance could well be the cause (or a cause) of you having one tricep that's bigger than the other.

Similarly, if you perform physical labor or household chores with your dominant arm, then that could be a reason for your right tricep being smaller than your left tricep (or vice versa).

Of course, few sports or activities work the triceps like weight training does, so it's doubtful that playing tennis, for example, would be the cause of your tricep imbalance.

What can you do if you have one tricep that's bigger than the other?

If you've got one tricep that's bigger than the other, you can likely fix (or greatly improve) your muscular imbalance by implementing these training tips.

Perform unilateral exercises

A man training his tricep muscles

Performing a unilateral tricep workout is the single best way to fix uneven triceps. When you work each arm separately or independently, you're naturally giving both of your triceps similar amounts of stimulation, which will help them to become more proportional.

Dumbbells are the obvious choice here, but you can also do unilateral exercises with cables, bands, and kettlebells.

If your tricep imbalance is particularly bad, then you definitely want to do one-arm exercises so that you can really hone in on your weaker triceps muscle.

Isolateral exercises (in which you lift two independent weights) work as well, but they're less effective for fixing uneven tricep muscles because you're still splitting your focus between two arms.

Improve your mind-muscle connection

A man doing tricep pushdowns

Even if you train your triceps separately, you'll likely still have a better mind-muscle connection with your dominant triceps.

If this is the case for you, you'll need to put extra special effort into improving your mind-muscle connection with your less developed tricep muscle.

Palpating your triceps while it's stretching and contracting is one way to improve your mind-muscle connection, as is mentally focusing on the muscle lifting the weight.

Also, make sure to exercise your patience and give your mind-muscle connection some time to become stronger. Feeling your triceps working is, after all, a skill, and skills can take a while to become ingrained within your brain.

Let your other tricep catch up

A man doing a one arm overhead extension

If you want your triceps to become balanced as quickly as possible—if you really want to transform your triceps—then you can always stop training (or just maintain) your stronger side for a while while you train your less developed triceps.

Obviously, if you're into bodybuilding or strength training, this is easier said than done; few lifters, including me, would be prepared to stop training their well-developed triceps muscle completely.

So what I'd do is this: Keep training your triceps as usual but do slightly more volume for your less developed side and trust that it will catch up over time.

Conclusion: Why your right tricep is bigger than your left (or vice versa)

A man showing that his right tricep is bigger than his left triceps

If your right tricep is bigger than your left tricep (or vice versa), then it's most likely because your stronger triceps muscle is doing more of the work during your pressing exercises (and even during pushdowns and skull crushers).

Additionally, you may have a better mind-muscle connection with your dominant triceps, which could cause it to receive more stimulation even if it's getting trained with the same amount of reps and sets as your less developed triceps.

Your best bet for fixing your uneven triceps is to do unilateral exercises so that you can ensure that both of your triceps are getting more or less equal amounts of work. On top of that, really try to strengthen your mind-muscle connection with your less developed triceps muscle.

James Jackson
James Jackson is a personal trainer who uses his expertise in strength and conditioning to create helpful workout tutorials that show fitness enthusiasts how to build muscle while staying safe in the gym. He draws on the latest sports science data as well as tried and tested training techniques to get the best results for his clients without them having to live in the gym.
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