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Unilateral Training: 5 Best Unilateral Exercises And Benefits

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Taking an individualized approach to your training will help you better develop your athletic performance. A good training program will incorporate different movements and variations of those movements, to account for lifestyle factors, as well as muscular imbalances, previous injuries, and your preferred training protocol and goals. Most strength training movements, such as the squat, bench press, and deadlifts are bilateral movements. However, incorporating unilateral movements into your accessory training, will help you build more strength, muscle mass, and improve your athletic performance.

What Is Unilateral Training 

Unilateral exercises are single-arm and single-leg movements training online one side of the body. The primary benefit of unilateral training is to strengthen and isolate specific muscles ,to improve muscular imbalances and weakness to avoid overtraining the dominant side of your body.

Benefits Of Unilateral Training

1. Corrects Muscular Imbalances 

There are several benefits and reasons why you should incorporate unilateral exercises in your training routine. However, correcting for muscular imbalances is perhaps the biggest benefit of unilateral training and exercises. Bilateral training uses both sides of the body. These movements, such as the squat, deadlift, shoulder press, etc in theory should use the same muscular force equally distributed between both sides of the body. Yet that rarely is the case. When one side is stronger than the other, the dominant side can overcompensate for a weakness you may be experiencing. This can, therefore, cause your dominant muscles to become stronger, overcompensating for your weaker muscles, creating imbalances, and potentially leading to injury.

2. Improves Core Stability And Strength

By actively training one side of the body, your midline is forced  to stabilize your core. This can help improve overall core strength and stability which translates across nearly every resistance training and functional movement there is. Not only does the core improve stabilization, but the active limb you’re training will also develop better stability as well.

3. Improves Physique

In bodybuilding, balanced physique is the game. If you have muscular imbalances, unilateral training and exercises are the only way to correct for those imbalances. Musculature must be aesthetically balanced, otherwise, you won’t get far. For example, if you have one dominant shoulder, or pec, you would need to use a unilateral movement, in order to build more mass in that specific segment of your body to build a well-defined physique.

The Best Unilateral Exercises

1. Single Arm Dumbbell Chest Press

Single arm dumbbell chest press is a great unilateral exercise. Implementing this variation into your training, will help with better chest development and strength. Simply add a few sets each week, to your training, to your weaker side to create more bilateral strength and definition.

2. Single Arm Dumbbell Shoulder Press

There isn’t a shoulder day, without a single arm-dumbbell shoulder press in my training. This movement will help create more constant tension in your core and increase postural balance. Adding in variation of traditional bilateral exercises will also help increase mass and strength by constantly varying your training movements.

3. Bulgarian Split Squats

The Bulgarian split squat is one of the best unilateral exercises. The Bulgarian-split squat is a single-leg squat variation. Compared to a traditional barbell squat, it removes all the pressure and load from your lower back, and places it directly into your quads, hamstrings, and glutes. The stabilizing leg of the Bulgarian split-squat is elevated behind you, which allows greater range of motion and depth, to achieve more muscle hypertrophy, and strength in your glutes and quadriceps. Bulgarian split squats are key for not only building a bigger barbell back squat, but for building quadriceps and glutes, midline stability, and it offers a wider range of motion movement for your hip flexors. 

4. Reverse Lunges 

Much like the split squat, the reverse lunge is a single leg movement, such are all lunges. However the reverse lunge emphasizes balance and coordination, while building more strength in your quads, hamstrings, and glutes.

5. Single Arm Dumbbell Row

The Single-Arm Dumbbell Row, also known as the one-arm dumbbell row, or lawn mowers, is a unilateral isotonic exercise, which isolates the back and focuses on core stabilization. The Single-Arm Dumbbell Row is a great addition to your back training split, helping improve definition, strength, and size.  

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