Muscle imbalances refer to the strength and size of the muscle on the side of the body that is different from the muscle on the other side. It is a common issue among beginners who are new to bodybuilding.  

If you feel that you have uneven lats (latissimus dorsi), then you probably know that the side of your dominant hand is bigger and stronger by now. You will need to practice good form when exercising to correct uneven lats

In addition, you will need to focus on working the muscles on the weak side to ensure that your dominant side is not doing all of the work. 

Continue reading to learn more about uneven lats and how to fix them. 

A muscle imbalance is a size or strength discrepancy between a group of muscles, such as having a bigger upper body compared to the lower body or a right bicep that is larger than the left bicep. Uneven lats and uneven muscle growth is a regular issue for people who are beginners in bodybuilding. 

The most common causes of uneven lats and muscle imbalances tend to include an improper workout program, poor exercise technique, lousy posture, mobility, and flexibility. 

man flexing and showing his back muscles

Common Symptoms & How To Identify Uneven Lats

It can be hard to identify the location of the pain in the latissimus dorsi or other muscles in the back or shoulders. When you feel pain in the latissimus dorsi, then you might experience strain in the following areas:  

  • The lower, middle and upper back 
  • The back of the shoulders 
  • The base of the scapula (also known as the shoulder blade) 
  • The inside of the arms 
  • The lower arms 

In many cases, the pain will happen without warning. It can also be felt in the surrounding muscles. The pain tends to worsen when a person extends their hands, raises their hands above their head, or throws something.  

Damage to the latissimus dorsi can lead to other types of symptoms, including:  

  • Difficulty breathing 
  • Tingling in the lower arms 
  • Tendonitis in the middle and lower back 

You should consult with a doctor when the location of the back pain cannot be identified or when the pain is accompanied by:  

  • Fever
  • Abdominal pain 
  • Trouble breathing 

Why Is It Important To Correct Uneven Lats?

Everything in the body is connected. If something is affecting one part of the body, it will affect all parts of the body. Therefore, it is essential to maintain a strong body and back foundation and ensure that weight is distributed properly.

If you are feeling an imbalance, then it is imperative that you take action now. The good news is that uneven lats and muscle imbalance can be corrected through exercise.  

Every muscle needs to be in balance for optimal function and movement. If one muscle is stronger than the other, it will create an imbalance over time, leading to injury.

What Will Happen If You Have Lat Muscle Imbalance?

  • Pain
    The number one symptom of muscle imbalance is feeling pain.[1] It is the body telling you that something is off. You have a responsibility to listen to the body. 
  • Limited Mobility And Range Of Motion 
    A key sign of muscle imbalance is feeling restricted. If you exercise with a muscle imbalance, then you are bound to notice that movements have become more difficult. It is important to notice when something is off and seek medical assistance. 
  • Unbalanced Appearance 
    If you feel that you are standing or leaning to one side, then it is usually down to a leg or hip imbalance.

If you have uneven lats and you do not correct the issue, then it can lead to more muscle imbalances over time. 

Related Article - What Causes Tight Lats?

man flexing his back muscles

How To Fix Uneven Lats (5 Workout Tips To Correct Muscle Imbalance)

There are a number of strategies and exercises that you can perform to fix uneven lats and muscle imbalances. The five methods include:  

1. Use Unilateral Exercises 

If one side of the body is stronger, it will be the dominant side when working out. For example, if your right pectoral is stronger than your left pectoral, the right side will rise slightly faster, which means that your left pectoral is underutilized. 

You can switch out the barbell exercise (in which both sides of the body are worked simultaneously) and perform the unilateral dumbbell exercise instead (in which both sides of the body are worked independently). Unilateral exercises allow both sides of the body to work without the dominant muscle taking over.  

Here are a few good examples of switches that you can make in your workout:  

  • Switch the barbell bench press for the dumbbell bench press (flat or incline). 
  • Switch the barbell squats for the dumbbell lunges or pistol squats. 
  • Switch the barbell bicep curls for the dumbbell bicep curls (hammer or normal).  
  • Switch the barbell shoulder press for the dumbbell shoulder press (seated or standing).   

2. Start With The Weaker Side 

It is only natural that one side of the body is more dominant than the other. After all, not everyone is ambidextrous. However, in most cases, you will not fully realize that you favor the stronger side of the body. 

When you start unilateral exercises, you should always train your weaker side first, especially if you want to fix or prevent a muscle imbalance.

Related Article - Best Lower Lat Exercises

3. Let The Weaker Side Set The Tone Of Your Workout 

In many cases, you will find that your weaker side struggles to keep up with the same amount of workload that your stronger side can. When you start exercising the weaker side, you should let it determine the amount of work that both sides of the body can do. 

For example, if you want to perform 3 sets of 8 repetitions on lunges, but your weaker side can only do 6, then you should only perform 6 on your stronger side too. 

The same can be said when doing lat pulldowns or pull ups on a machine. Be conscious of using both sides evenly or letting your weaker side dominate the start of the exercise.

4. Do Extra Work On The Side That Is Weaker 

Muscle imbalances are very common among bodybuilders, but they can be corrected by doing extra work on the weaker side. You can balance the weaker body parts by using one of the two methods:  

  • Increase Volume
    You can increase volume by adding in an extra workout for the weaker body part. For example, if your back is smaller compared to your chest, then you could add in an extra back session to increase the strength of the weaker body part. Another option is to reduce the workout volume of other body parts to allow the weaker body part to catch up in training. 
  • Increase Training Load
    You can also increase the training load of the weaker body part. The options are to apply progressive workout overload by increasing the load you lift, reducing rest time, and increasing sets or repetitions. The goal is to increase the amount of training in order to bring the weaker body part into alignment with the rest of your body. 

5. Fix The Underlying Problem 

The strategies that we have listed above will usually help fix a muscle imbalance, but you should also consider exploring the underlying cause of uneven lats or other muscle imbalances.

If you are working out with bad technique, then look into: 

  • Are you not focused? 
  • Have you learned the technique wrong? 
  • Are you struggling with mobility or flexibility? 

You can work on improving mobility and flexibility as soon as you have identified the problem area. 

Learn More - Foam Rolling Lats: Benefits & How To Do It

man stretching his tricep

How To Prevent Uneven Lats In The Future

  • Start with tolerable weights and a higher rate of repetitions. The repetitions will eventually increase your strength on both sides of the body equally. 
  • Do not try to adjust the strength of your weaker body part by focusing on more repetitions or lifting more weights faster. It will not bring change or even out both sides of the body.  
  • The most common areas for muscle imbalances are the lats and biceps (the lats are the most sensitive). It is important for bicep, shoulder, and back exercises to be equal at all times to prevent uneven lats and biceps.  

Uneven Lats FAQs

Do broken collarbones cause uneven lats? 

A collarbone fracture is not a life-threatening injury, but it can impact a person’s quality of life. In the short term, it can cause pain, disability, and disturbed sleep. In the long term, it can cause ongoing pain and loss of function. It's best to rest both sides of your body until you can appropriately work out again. 

Do uneven lats cause scoliosis? 

Scoliosis is caused by another condition that affects the nerves and muscles, such as muscle imbalance or weakness.[2] The most common neuromuscular conditions that can lead to scoliosis include spinal cord injury, cerebral palsy, or muscular dystrophy.  

Is it common to have uneven lats? 

It is quite common for men to have one latissimus dorsi muscle longer than the other one. However, keeping uneven lats can cause shoulder problems, lower back issues, and stress the neck and spine. It is important to correct uneven lats as soon as possible if you wish to keep working out. 

Can you make your lats wider? 

The back is a huge muscle group that is made up of several different muscles. For example, the latissimus dorsi is a two-part muscle (upper and lower). If you want to make your lats wider, then the answer is to focus on building your upper lats. 


If you wanto know how to fix uneven lats or how to prevent uneven lats from developing in the future, we hope that we have answered your questions. At the end of the day, prevention is better than cure.

It is vital that you maintain both sides of your body and allow them to get stronger equally. Remember not to excessively train only one side of the body, and do your best to focus on both. Muscle development takes time, but it will be worth it.




Paul J

Paul J

Paul J is is an ex-professional footballer who has seen a gym or two and is an expert at knowing what is required for home gym setups. When he isn’t testing out products for his readers, he’s usually going for a run in the park or out for coffee.