Often we get used to working with both limbs when doing an exercise. Movements like squats, presses or rows are common to do with both feet square or with both arms and without a doubt are effective and beneficial. However unilateral movements or off center movements that place more weight on one extremity instead of the other are not only a good muscular workout but also a core workout.
Just take a step back & think about all the things we do in everyday life unilaterally: getting out of a car we shift our weight to one foot, getting into the car we use one foot to balance while the other is off the ground and we shift our weight, carrying that gallon of milk, walking, walking up steps, running, carrying a baby in one arm, opening a door, the list goes on.
Here are a few good resources for unilateral exercises:
- Bicep Curl Grip Guide
- Rear Foot Elevated Split Squats
- Single-Arm Landmine Squat-to-Press
- TRX Unilateral Exercise Sequence
Sure you can kill that squat, press etc with a good amount of weight…give one of your arms or legs a chance to do it solo. You will probably find some surprises on which side is dominant. If you notice that – it is good that you are listening to your body and recognizing an opportunity to strengthen the other side. This is also a useful type of exercise to keep in your back pocket when you are on the injured list.
These types of exercises are more than just that bicep curl. Bulgarian split squats or one-leg squats are a great exercise to spend some time on. The Bulgarian may be a bit easier to ease into versus the one-leg squat. Don’t get discouraged. You didn’t get your drivers license and then studied and took the test after. A small step towards this (yes I meant that pun) is coming up from a seated position on a bench or flat chair on one foot. But sure you can save that one-leg squat for another day. Today try a squat to one-arm press instead. Or break that up and do a seated one arm press. There are many options.
Unilateral exercises can be humbling maybe because your balance and core strength may be tested – then great! Your core strength and balance will improve. Keep on sprinkling it in to your workouts to see gains in your your bilateral exercises. It is not just a workout for that one arm but also your core stabilizing muscles to deal with that unbalanced weight above your head during that one-arm press. We often move throughout life doing unilateral movements so even though the exercises may seem odd when you search of unilateral exercises online…but we do them in life quite often. It is great medicine.
Try some today. As always if you have any questions or inquiries regarding my 1:1 Personal Training Services in sunny San Diego or Group Classes at Function First- feel free to contact me at [email protected]