Why we do unilateral training
By Benchmark Webmaster | on Sep 18, 2017
To put it simply unilateral movements are when we use one limb as the main lifting component to complete a exercise.
For example if I'm to do body weight squat I'm driving of both feet this would be a bilateral squat but if i were to bring a foot back onto a bench and then squat again pushing off the front leg this would be a unilateral exercise a Bulgarian split squat.
What are the benefits:
There are numerous reasons to incorporate unilateral training some of our favourites are:
Decrease asymmetries: The body has an amazing ability to compansate and hide movement deficiencies but when you expose the body to unilateral positions you are no longer able to completely compensate you have to build motor units to create stability and strength in these weaker areas. Unilateral training will help to build better symmetry in the body leading to a more effective movement.
Rehab/ Prevention from injuries: After an injury it is extremely common to find that the injured side is weaker than the non-injured limb. When this happens it is impossible to restore that balance without using unilateral training. Making sure that you have sysemtry between your limbs is also one of the best ways to decrease your future injury potential.
Less CNS intensive: The central nervous system usually gets really worked during strength/power bilateral training but when we use unilateral training we can get just as effective results from using a lot lighter loads leading to less stress on the nervous system example: If you back squat squat 100kg for 5sets of 3 reps vs a Bulgarian spilt squat at 40kg for 5 sets of 3 reps with the Bulgarian split squat you're using 60 percent less load to get an effective training stimulus
Great for beginners: Building a strong foundation when getting backing into training or starting training for the first time is paramount. Unilateral training will build on stability and strength and iron out imbalances and will give you a great training stimulus
At Benchmark Canterbury we tie a lot of unilateral training into our foundation sessions as well as our Benchmark sessions were we had a bit of complexity.