Today we’re talking about UNILATERAL EXERCISES. A controversial topic amongst some training circles. Some people feel they are as useless as nipples on men. I disagree. I like unilateral lifts. I find them functional and effective. Now don’t get me wrong. I don’t use them for everything and I don’t think that they are all you should be doing either. What I do like about them however is not only do they add some variety to your training, it also adds a different dimension to your mechanics while you train.
For those of you that don’t know what a Unilateral lift is, simply put, it is an exercise that you do on only one side of your body (ie. squatting on one leg or curling a dumbbell with one arm only). What it brings to the table is the following:
- You have to stabilize and activate muscles in a different way (especially your core muscles). These muscles may not be as active when doing their bilateral counterpart exercise.
- They work on enhancing Range of Motion (ROM) and balance that may not be possible during a bilateral lift.
- On a neurological level, you entrain different neurological movement patterns.
Without further ado here we go!
1) Single Arm Chest Press -This is a great way to not only challenge your pecs but to give your core a burn at the same time. Lifting a weight one side at a time will immediately make you engage your core to resist rotational forces (and not fall off the bench).
- Grab a weight (a little less than you would normally do for a normal bilateral chest press) in one hand and have a seat on the edge of a flat bench (can use a incline or decline bench as you progress with your strength).
- Lie down and bring the weight down so your arm is bent 90 degrees at the elbow. Place your opposite hand on your hip stability. Feet should be flat on the floor about shoulder width apart.
- Engage your core. Slowly raise the weight until your arm is almost straight. Pause and slowly lower it back to starting position. Focus on not letting your torso rotate or come off the bench.
- Repeat reps and sets based on your type of training.
- Switch hands and repeat.
- Don’t: arch your back or lock out your elbow
- Grab a heavy dumbbell/barbell/kettlebell. Hold tightly in one hand.
- Brace your core.
- Walk normally for a certain amount of steps or distance.
- Switch hands and repeat.
- Don’t: hold the weight against your leg and use momentum to swing your hips around.
- Grab a pair of dumbbell, barbell, kettlebell, plates etc.
- Put one leg up on a bench behind you. And position your front leg far enough in front so that there is a 90 degree angle at its end position.
- Brace your core and slowly bend your front leg until you have a 90 degree angle at your knee. Try to keep your hips square.
- Make sure your knee does not drift in front of your toes.
- When you go up push through your heels and squeeze your gluts. Repostion your front foot if you need to.
- If you feel any pain stop.
- Repeat for reps and sets depending on your training.
- Switch sides and repeat.
- Don’t: lock out your knee when straightening or let your knee drift over your toes
Have a great weekend everyone. Keep crushing it.