Unilateral training refers to training limbs individually, rather than engaging both sides together. Unilateral exercises are single-leg or single-arm movements.
Sort Out Imbalances
Everyone has a weak side. In fact, recent studies have shown that strength differences between limbs can be as high as 25%. Bilateral training allows your dominant side to compensate for your weaker side, hiding imbalances that could later cause injury. For this reason, it’s important to include single-arm and leg movements in your workouts.
Unilateral exercises allow you to train away these asymmetries. When doing these exercises, start with the weaker side. After working that side to fatigue, do the same number of reps on the stronger side. While you won’t be working to fatigue on the stronger side, you’ll be bringing the weaker side up to meet it, enabling you to strengthen both sides equally as you go forward.
With unilateral moves, you prevent your dominant side from taking over and you can correct those imbalances that can lead to overuse and injury.
You force each side to work equally and you can really focus on even doing EXTRA on that weaker side to help correct the bilateral deficit!
Next time you workout, try doing the reps on your weaker side first. This will help you to not perpetuate the imbalances.
Unilateral moves can build functional strength for those times we are off balance or reaching and not necessarily centered or lifting with both sides. You can work on your rotational strength, so your ability to rotate and control the rotation, as well as your ANTI-rotational strength aka your ability to RESIST forces acting on you that could otherwise cause you to turn or twist in a weird way!
So whether you want to prevent injury, look better or get stronger so you can lift more or run faster, you need to include unilateral moves.
If you’re a runner like me, unilateral strength training is key especially if you want to strengthen your gait to run faster and more efficiently AND prevent injuries!