Those of you who follow us on social media will have seen the post promoting the benefits of single leg exercises that I used during my rehab. It made a real difference and it could also benefit you.
Unilateral exercises are single-leg or single-arm movements that we use to train both sides of the body equally. We all have a more dominant and therefore stronger side of our body. If you hold a pen with your right hand or kick a football with your right foot then you are right side dominant, and as a result your left side will be weaker than your right.
When you perform exercise with a barbell or use the leg press, it is likely that your more dominant side is performing more of the work. This is not ideal and can result in body imbalances. It can result in injury if one side of the body is prone to overuse, or other muscles (which shouldn’t be used) come into play to make up for the weakness, and if you are never performing unilateral exercises the gap between your more dominant and weaker side could continue to grow.
The good news is that there is an easy solution, introduce some movements that involve using just one side of the body. Overtime this will help to fix any imbalances. Unilateral upper body exercises include – single arm shoulder press, single arm chest press, single arm row, or even single arm kettlebell swings. Lower body exercises – single leg squat, any lunge, step ups or single leg glute bridge. Or of you want a full body unilateral exercise try the Turkish get-up.
When you are performing unilateral exercises, start with your weakest side first, that means you are doing the weakest side when you are at your freshest. However, don’t assume that you can lift half the weight you normally would during traditional bilateral training, start light and steadily work your way up in weight. Finally, we are here to help, just ask for help or advice if it’s needed!