Unilateral Training : Balance Out Your Body

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Balance out your body and improve your performance

Are you right-handed? Do you find it easier to perform a lunge on one leg than on the other? Most people have a dominant side and, as a result, your strength, co-ordination and muscle size may vary from one side of your body to the other. When it comes to strength training, then, the limitation with many exercises is that they involve bilateral move that work body both sides of your body equally – think bench presses the problem, and the continuing imbalances can result in poor technique, causing tight overactive muscles, weal underactive muscles and, eventually, injury.

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Equal load

This is where unilateral training – working one side of your body independently from the other – can help you. It highlights potential strength imbalances and levels them out by loading the body equally. Training in this way also helps you develop core and postural strength – as you have to work your stabilizing muscles really hard to maintain balance – in turn, helping prevent injury.

Consider how your torso muscles have to stabilise your spine to present excessive torso rotation during a single arm row, or how unstable you feel when you do a single leg squat compared to a bilateral squat (where your opposite leg provides extra stability). Of course, bilateral movements do have their place in training – they allow additional load to be placed on the body, so they’re vital for developing strength. Plus, they’re important in helping refine technique with motion and mobility.

To incorporate unilateral training into your routine, try alternating unilateral and bilateral exercises on different days. Use the routine (see box left) to get you started.

One thing to bear in mind – always train your weaker side first then match your performance with your stronger side. If you train your dominant side first, working to the best of your ability, your weaker side will never be able to catch up, and all you’ll do is increase the imbalance.

Added challenge

Unilateral exercises are also really helpful if you play a sport that involves a dominant activity – such as kicking or throwing. Training individual limbs allows you to develop strength and force in positions where you need it most. And, as functional moves, they’ll be useful in everyday activities, too. So whether you’re new to strength training or have been working out for years, unilateral exercises are equally beneficial.

Description: Unilateral Training

Unilateral Training

Try it yourself

Add some unilateral moves to your resistance workout to help bring your body into balance. Perform three sets.


Muscles worked


Alternating lunges

Single arm chest press + dumbbells

Side plank with rotation


Single arm row

Single leg glutes bridge


Chest and triceps


Leg and glutes

Back and biceps


10 each side

12 each side

12 each side

12 – 15 each side

12 – 15 each side

15 each side

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