"1 at a Time! Unilateral Resistance
"A Leg Exercise that is Better than
"EXERCISE WARNING: Don't "Waist"
Your Time on the 'Side-bend'."
- INCREASE YOUR TRAINING FOCUS WITH UNILATERAL TRAINING
articles have addressed the importance and benefits of single-leg
training. By focusing on one side of the body at a time,
the trainee may develop more balanced strength in their
body. But unilateral training is not for rehabilitation
fact unilateral training is in fact more sport specific
because it allows you to match your sport movements. For
example, running time is spent 80% supported by one leg
therefore you must be able to perform maximally in single-leg
movements. For the bodybuilder, unilateral training offers
both a new stimulus to the muscle (training variety) and
a program providing greater muscle isolation.
bodybuilders already perform single-limb training for their
biceps (curls) or shoulders (lateral raises) so why not
for the chest as well (single-arm DB presses)? This is such
an extremely effective technique for developing strength
that it should be applied to all muscle groups in the body.
Every muscle that is paired (left and right side) should
be trained unilaterally (one side at a time), even the muscles
of the chest and back.
bodybuilders wanting a change in their program, a novel
stimulus for growth, or an exercise to address the limiting
factors in their bench press, single-arm upper body training
is the bomb! Likewise, lower-body unilateral training should
not even be an issue to debate. For athletes, unilateral
training is extremely beneficial for sport performance and
should be the preferred technique. Football blocking and
tackling, throwing, and grasping movements are all obvious
sport actions that would benefit from unilateral training.
barbell bench press is excellent for developing muscle mass
and general strength but a single-arm DB press is more sport-specific!
In addition, pre-existing strength imbalances may be corrected
by incorporating unilateral training. Single-leg exercises
require one side of the body to perform the exercise with
absolutely no assistance from the contra-lateral muscle.
This is "target" strength training at its best!
majority of sprinting or skating is spent with the weight
supported on one-leg, obviously demanding high levels of
single-limb strength. In addition to developing the muscles
that support the weight of the body, unilateral training
addresses the movement-specific neuromuscular pathways and
helps benefit performance in unilateral activities. The
addition of a novel training stimulus (i.e. lunges instead
of leg press) will develop the neuromuscular system to become
more efficient in single-leg activity and should enhance
balance and power.
to the novelty of the training stimulus, muscle soreness
can be expected in the days following single-limb training.
Some clients report extreme soreness in the triceps after
their first time doing a single-arm DB flat press! However,
neuromuscular adaptations will occur quickly and will enable
the lifter to increase the resistance after only a couple
of training sessions in addition to a reduction in muscle
addition to soreness, unilateral training may also increase
workout length but it has many benefits. You may reduce
strength imbalances and allows you to target priority areas,
for example a lagging or rehabilitating limb. To help equate
strength disparities, perform a set with the weak side first
and then perform the identical number of reps for the strong
side. This allows the weak side to "catch-up"
while maintaining the strength of the superior limb.
might want to perform unilateral exercises prior to bilateral
movements (particularly for the legs) because there is a
higher demand on the nervous system for coordination. Otherwise
it is a personal preference to train either mode first,
but like any other program, consider changing this and most
of your training variables after 3-4 weeks.
UNILATERAL exercises to substitute for traditional bilateral
DB presses (single-arm flat bench, incline, shoulder press,
Hammer strength equipment (one-side at a time)
Pulldown options (use the D-handle and perform single-arm
Lower-body (lunges, step-ups, & 1-leg squats, deadlifts,
and machine movements)
- THE WIDE STANCE SQUAT: BETTER THAN THE SQUAT?
of whether you consider the squat the "king" of
exercises, there may be actually be a better exercise for
leg development and performance enhancement. First, the
squat is one of the best exercises because it demands force
production and balance from almost every muscle of the thigh
and lower leg, BUT/ it does not have as maximal transfer
to sports that have a great deal of lateral movement.
squat lacks a lateral movement component and therefore does
not train the adductor ("groin") muscles. However,
lateral movement is a component of almost all sports, specifically
hockey, soccer and basketball and must be addressed in a
proper training program. Most sport movements are not linear
and straight-ahead but involve a lateral or diagonal component.
creative strength coach must develop exercises that recruit
many muscle groups, incorporate balance, and strengthen
the legs. We could use the adductor machine, but this is
an "isolation" exercise and is less effective
because it is performed in the seated position. Rather we
should use the wide stance squat because it has greater
transfer to sport.
with your feet greater than shoulder-width apart. Perform
a regular squat, going as deep as possible while maintaining
a straight lower back. Reach a position similar to that
a catcher achieves behind home plate. The movement may be
awkward, so start with a conservative weight. Return to
the upright position by extending at the hips and knees
and contract the adductors (groin) and attempt to bring
the legs to the mid-line.
there is no lateral movement of the legs, the adductor muscles
will have a greater contraction in comparison to a normal
squat, and all the other muscles that work so hard in the
regular squat must contribute as well.
this is a new movement, soreness is to be expected. It may
be hard on the connective tissue in the area at first, therefore
you must progress slowly in load & volume. Over time
the area will strengthen and help to prevent injury during
sports. Another reason for caution in this exercise, is
that most likely the area will be weak, as it is often neglected
in most training programs. So go slow, but be consistent
and you will see and feel the benefits.
- THE VALUE OF THE "SIDE-BEND" EXERCISE
is an exercise that too many people spend way too much time
on. I will explain, but first a description of the exercise:
erect and hold light dumbbells in hands. Bend to your right
as far as possible without moving your torso forward, then
return to the upright position by contracting the abdominal
oblique muscle on the opposite side. Perform all the repetitions
for the right side and then switch to the left arm and repeat.
a little anatomy: There are 2 oblique abdominal muscles
on either side of the trunk, an internal oblique and an
external oblique. The external oblique muscle fibers run
medially and inferiorly (the same direction that the fingers
point when the hand is put in the pocket) and the internal
obliques run in the opposite direction (and are underneath
the external obliques).
"side-bend" exercise effectively recruits the
oblique abdominal muscles to laterally flex the vertebral
column. A second function of the oblique abdominal muscles
is to simultaneously flex and rotate the trunk. The contraction
of the right external oblique & the left internal oblique
together result in lateral trunk flexion to the right side.
The contraction of these same two muscles can also result
in trunk rotation to the left side.
area of the oblique muscles is commonly referred to as the
"love handles". This is a prominent area of subcutaneous
fat deposition and is often a desired area for body fat
reduction. However, it is important to note that the performance
of the "side bend" exercise will not promote fat
loss exclusive to this area. In fact, when the exercise
is performed with a relatively heavy weight, the end result
of this exercise could be muscle hypertrophy, the complete
opposite effect wanted by individuals seeking to reduce
the overall size of the "love handle" area.
optimal training prescription for the reduction of body
fat over the oblique muscles is a combination of total-body
resistance training (emphasize exercises training the large
muscle groups of the body), moderate-duration and high-intensity
aerobic exercise, and dietary manipulation.
the general population, oblique exercises are obsolete.
Your time in the gym is better spent using larger muscle
groups to promote a greater caloric expenditure. Although
the area is important for athletes to strengthen, the "side-bend"
is a poor exercise choice. Use the twist crunch and its
variations because this trains the obliques in flexion and
rotation, a movement much more specific