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Building a Stronger Body With Unilateral Movement (WORKOUT INCLUDED!)

May 10, 2014 3 min read

We're all used to bilateral exercises, or exercises that use both limbs at the same time to complete a movement, such as a shoulder press with a bar, or squat with bar/sandbag. Have you ever though, found yourself pushing, pulling or pressing more with one of the limbs to complete the movement? Your left arm may start to give out before your stronger right, or vice versa, and therefore, that right arm is compensating for the weaker left, and pushing weight to complete the exercise. With unilateral training, you move each limb independently from the other. You can do this with dumbbells, cables on a machine, kettlebells or anything where each limb is supporting it's own weight. So if doing bicep curls and using 20lb dumbbells in each hand, you may be able to complete 12 reps successfully with the right arm with spot on form, but only 10 reps with the left before failing. When you isolate a movement like this with each limb, you can discover the weakness and imbalance with each and work on it to correct it. By focusing on each independently, you can work each separately of one another and strengthen each on its own, so as to complete the bilateral movement with little to no imbalance. This is one of the reasons I LOVE to work with dumbbells. I find it helps me gain strength to complete the functional movements I do on a daily basis. I know for me, holding a 17 pound 4 month old in my left arm all day, with my right always free or carrying a diaper bag, I have created an imbalance which I work on when I train. Unilateral training has helped me greatly in my postpartum recovery, helping me focus on my muscular weaknesses and imbalances to strengthen both left and right sides equally. PLUS, I also get a great workout in. Below I have created another Rep Challenge, but this time using unilateral movements with a 20 pound dumbbell and a val slide (if you don't have a val slide, you can use a hand towel under your foot or a paper plate. Anything that moves smoothly). Not only will you be using and working ONE SIDE AT A TIME, but with a couple you will also work on your balance by supporting yourself on one leg as well. I made it a HIIT workout, adding Ski Hops in between each unilateral movement, but feel free to take them out if you want to focus more on the individual exercises at hand. There are 5 different exercises, to be completed on each side. Ski Hops added in between to make it HIIT.


1) 1 arm/1 leg clean and press 10 reps right -Ski hops 10 reps 1a) 1 arm/ 1 leg clean and press 10 reps left -ski hops 10 reps 2) 1 arm , 1 leg bent over row 10 reps right - Ski hops 10 reps 2a) 1 arm, 1 leg bent over row 10 reps left - Ski hops 10 reps 3) 1 arm squat and press 10 reps right - Ski hops 10 reps 3a) 1 arm squat and press 10 reps left - Ski hops 10 reps 4) 1 leg around the world lunge (val slide) 10 reps right - Ski hops 10 reps 4a) 1 leg around the world lunge (val slide) 10 reps left - Ski hops 10 reps 5) 1 arm slide push up (val slide) 10 reps right - Ski hops 10 reps 5a) 1 arm slide push up (val slide) 10 reps left - Ski hops 10 reps


  Video demonstrating Movements:
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