Ask The Trainer:"The importance of unilateral training?"
May 7, 2019
Nikki Davis, ACE - CPT
Unilateral training immediately helps identify imbalances in the body and is used as a rehabilitative tool to correct muscle imbalances to a greater degree than performing an exercise with both sides of the body (bilateral). When an injury to the body has occurred causing a halt in exercise or movement, unilateral training can be used to create muscular strength and growth to the injured area. This is because of the phenomenon known as cross education of the muscles meaning, when one muscle is a performing a movement the same muscle group on the opposite side is still being strengthen at a lesser degree from neural signals through the body. Unilateral training is a great tool to prevent injuries, improve core stabilization and is very transferable to real life like walking, running, carrying groceries, an other daily tasks. It is best to include in your workout after your multi-joint exercises like squats and deadlifts because these exercises are performed at a greater load and expend more energy than unilateral training.
Christian Agudelo, ACSM - CPT
Unilateral training is used to identify and train any muscular imbalances in the body. In order to improve symmetry in the body it is important to add unilateral exercises. By strengthen both sides of the body equally you are addressing those areas with asymmetry and therefore improving the balance and stability in the area of the body in question. Many injuries tend to occur over time if you have too many asymmetries in your body. Incorporating unilateral training will help minimize those risks.
Earvin Bahena, NSCA - CSCS
Unilateral training are exercises that use single leg or single arm movements. The idea behind these types are movements is to strengthen both sides of the body evenly. While doing these movements you are able to correct any muscle imbalances since you are not using the dominant side to take over. Certain exercises like step ups can help with balance and force you to use core muscles to stabilize yourself on top of the step. These types of movements can also be applied to real life situations, whether it is opening the door, going up the stairs or reaching for something, you do all these in a unilateral movement.
Spencer O'Neil, NASM- CPT
Unilateral training is important to ensure proper symmetry and to avoid muscle imbalances. Many imbalances can lead to injury if not corrected so it is important to mix in a few unilateral movements can help prevent injury in the long run. When doing bilateral movements our dominant sides likes to take over, especially during the fatigue phase of the rep. This overcompensation over time can take a huge toll on our muscles. Unilateral training is also great for increasing core stability as well as balance. I try to incorporate one unilateral movement for every bilateral movement in my daily workouts.