08 Nov The Why: Unilateral Loading
(Single Arm or Single Leg exercises)
One thing I LOVE to switch up in my training is going from bilateral to unilateral training. If you’re like, “Kels, I have no clue what that means or is….” Don’t worry, I got you!
Bilateral: Both sides
For example: Holding DBs in BOTH hands
Unilateral: One side
For example: Holding DB in ONE hand
So when talking about going from bilateral to unilateral training or vice versa, it’s going from loading only one side of the body (like holding a DB in ONE hand) to loading both sides of the body (like holding DBs in BOTH hands).
It’s an easy way to mix it up and is very beneficial. Why?
Well, if you’re adding weight to only one side of the body that means that weight is going to want to pull you towards that side (thanks to good ole gravity). Therefore, you have to engage your core and stabilizer muscles more to keep that weight from dragging you to that side. AKA: You will feel it in your obliques! By having to engage your core more you are building up that core strength which is definitely not a bad thing (it’s HUGE in injury prevention).
This focuses on not only building up that strength, but is essential and carries over perfectly to being able to live everyday life better! Think about it. When you’re carrying the groceries in, do you have the EXACT amount of weight on each side? If you’re anything like me you try to load up one arm to the max and then barely carry anything in the other arm. So essentially you are loading one side of the body more than the other requiring your body to be able to maintain that upright position so you don’t fall over. If your body has been put under similar situations before (like doing unilateral loaded lunges or farmer’s carries) then it will be able to handle the demand you are putting on it! Being able to handle the demand you are placing on your body = less chance of an injury.
This also translates over to doing bilateral movement. If you can do it unilateral, you will crush it bilateral.
How to: Unilateral Movements
· Don’t let your body dip towards the side that is getting loaded
· Engage your core and maintain that upright position!
· If it’s too heavy where you can’t maintain that position – go down in weight (form over ego).
Try to add this to your training and let me know how it goes! It is something I incorporate in every phase of my training. If you know someone that is elderly also having them perform unilateral exercise (even holding the groceries) will help reduce the fall risk! As always train hard, but train smart!