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Tuesday, April 24th 2012

10:26 PM

A-Z: Unilateral Training

Unilateral training means working on one side of the body at a time. The nonworking side in a unilateral exercise helps keep the body in balance. Exercises include one-arm dumbbell row, one-arm push up, lunges, and single-leg squat. It's a way to detect and correct muscle strength imbalances. I'm right-handed so my left side is significantly weaker. I always begin on my left side when doing unilateral exercises in order to catch up to my right side's strength.

I've used this type of training lately using one-arm overhead press and single-leg squat in my workouts. Two weeks ago, I attempted to shoulder press a 30-pound dumbbell but failed to even get it halfway up. I think my abs are not strong enough yet for the feat but I did do a bilateral overhead press with 30 pounds on each hand with great struggle. It was a bit surprising because it's usually easier for me to do one-arm exercises than bilateral exercises using the same weight. On the single-leg squats, I'm still using my bodyweight because my reps are not always done in proper form. There has not been a set that I've kept my balance on all reps. Today, I did one-arm chest presses and I could feel the burn more in my arms specially since I was lifting for high reps. I'm trying to work up to a regular chest press with 40 pounds and I'm hoping this will help. Last week, I could only do them one arm at a time because I could not get the dumbbells in position even with my stronger right arm. My triceps don't seem to have the strength. I think it's time to work them hard with one-arm overhead extensions or one-arm skull crushers specially since these muscles are so lazy in responding to moderate load.

There is one unilateral exercise that I still don't like. Weighted side lunges. It doesn't matter where I place the load, on my sides or at my shoulders. It elevates my heart rate up really fast which is a great cardio aspect but I tend to cut the number of planned sets in a workout like I did today. I was not even using very challenging weights (20 pounds per arm) and i stopped at 6 reps (6 less than planned). It's tolerable when I do the static version - lunging from a start position where my legs are already in a very wide stance. The alternating sides version starting with my feet together makes me grind my teeth. I should put it at the very beginning of a workout so I don't cut it short next time. 

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