What are Unilateral Exercises or Unilateral training?
“Unilateral Movement” means training a single side (one side) at a time.
Eg: One-arm chest press, One arm-shoulder press, Single-leg leg press, One-arm dumbbell rows, etc. As you’re working only one side of your body, unilateral exercises tend to be more challenging for you.
You’ll notice that automatically your core would get tight and engaged when you lift the weight and try to maintain a stable balance while performing the reps.
Unilateral exercises are often claimed to be ‘more functional’ by many gym trainers, but I personally felt incredible benefits (which I’ve mentioned below) when I introduced unilateral training in my workouts.
Benefits of Unilateral Exercises
(1) Better Core Engagement, Range of Motion, Stability, and Balance.
(2) Greater Mind-to-Muscle Connection and Muscle Tension (Time Under Tension).
(3) Works amazing with isolation exercises or when you need to isolate any muscle.
(4) Prevents muscle imbalances and helps with imbalanced movements.
(5) It works for both sides equally and you don’t have to worry about catching up with the DOMINANT SIDE!!
(6) Lowers the chances of Injuries.
Researchers on the Effects and Benefits of Unilateral Training
Let’s just have a look at what researchers at the Shanghai University of Sport say when they performed a meta-analysis of 14 studies that found the effect of unilateral and bilateral exercises on unilateral strength, bilateral strength, unilateral jumping height, bilateral jump height, change of direction ability, and sprint speed.
Basically what they found out was that the “participants got better at either way they practiced – bilaterally or unilaterally”. This follows the SAID Principle i.e. Law of Specificity. Bi-laterals improved bilateral strength more than unilateral exercises, and unilateral exercises improved unilateral jump height more than bilateral exercises.
The scientists also found that unilateral exercises are slightly better than bilateral exercises for improving jumping, agility, and speed. So these can be very beneficial for you in the sports that demand explosive movements!
Most sports require power, agility, and speed. So it would be smart to include one or two unilateral exercises in your training program.
Unilateral exercises help you to identify and correct muscle imbalances, and often compliment your primary exercises like squats, deadlifts, bench presses, barbell-rows etc. being great ‘accessory exercises’.
The Takeaway: Unilateral exercises are great for improving sports performance and correcting muscle imbalances, and can complement well along with your primary bi-lateral exercises. Ideally, your training program should include both of them.
If you’re looking out for a customised workout plan or a DIET PLAN which could help you get stronger, faster, muscular and BETTER – you can just contact me on Whatsapp or via Email. Obviously, your DIET and recovery would matter and should complement your workouts.
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