14 Mar Unilateral Movement Training vs. Bilateral Movement
Double-arm and double-leg movements might be your best friend when you attack your workouts in the gym. Building on the “Bible Basics” are extremely important in establishing your body’s own strength and conditioning foundation. However, having a foundation is important, but you have to actually build upon the foundation after. The framework and additional pieces come next. So what do I mean when I say “Bible Basics?”
I’m not talking about religion or spirituality. I’m talking about the basic movements in the gym. Your pushup and benchpress. Your squat and your deadlift. Your pull-up and your shoulder press. These movements use your muscles and movements on a symmetrical basis, meaning that we are using both arms or both legs at the same time. It is symmetrical and bilateral (meaning two).
Training bilateraly is very beneficial and absolutely should be done daily. On the other side of this though is the asymmetrical and the unilateral movements. This spectrum of training is usually neglected, or at the least unbalanced with the bilateral movements. What happens in bilateral training is that your strong side will take over during a struggle under tension, or weight load. This will allow you to complete the movement or the exercise, but you aren’t balancing your body, because your weak side will lag behind, and your strong side will pick up the slack.
An example is this picture of a Single Leg Glute Bridge. When you use one leg, you are automatically forced to engage your deep core muscles to stabilize. That’s number one when it comes to the benefits of unilateral training. We hear about core and crunches and legs lifts, and all of these ab specific exercises, but one of the best ways to work the core is to work single arm and single leg. The core must activate to control and stabilize.
The second main reason is that you will now begin to pick apart your strong side from your weak side. In this example, perhaps you’re right leg dominant. So when you perform this on the right leg you have good strength, and flexibility and it feels fine. What happens when you switch to your non-dominant side though. You try the left side and you feel like you can’t squeeze your butt as hard, or you can’t get up as high on this side, or you can’t fire the muscle contraction as long or as intensely on this side. Hmmmm.
This starts to allow you to understand your body’s own weakness and limitations a little better, and where you may be cheating and building in over-compensation. Unilateral training is the proving ground of where you true strength will lie. How can you be truly strong, in the sense of the definition, if you can squat 500 lbs bilaterally, and you can’t perform a body-weight single leg pistol squat?
The question that you should ask yourself is, “How can I advance my strength other than just adding more weight load or tension?” Unilateral training movement answers that question for you. I challenge you to take yourself out of the current mindset you have for training, and take a wider look at movements and unilateral training. Whether you are using your legs or your arms you are tageting your core and building the key muscles involved in protecting and stabilizing the spinal column.
Unilateral training is like graduating from highschool and moving on to college. It’s a new level of challenging and difficulty that will push you to new growth and new results. Think about your routine, and start to change what you do. Push new boundaries and uncover new techniques to grow and thrive with your fitness program and your body’s balance.
For more information, consults, strategy sessions, or 1:1’s check out www.MobilityProject.fit