THE POWER OF ONE
Unilateral exercises to create symmetry and balance
As the great Rocky Balboa exclaimed in Rocky IV, “If I can change, and you can change, everybody can change!” If Rocky said it, then it must be true, right? Indeed, change is possible in everyone, but in this case, we’re not talking about a post-Cold-War boxing match between two exceptionally ripped, fictional 80s heavyweights. We’re talking about knockout modifications that you can make to your own physique.
Too many of us have skipped right past the critical step of building a solid foundation that will allow us to construct our desired build. Instead, we opt to press and pull weights that are outside our current capabilities. We may lift this weight once, twice, or maybe even manage to bang out a set of 10 reps with, at best, lackluster form -squirming our way to muscle imbalances and even injury. The majority of us have a naturally dominant arm or leg with which we can lift or stabilize a load better than the opposite limb. By incorporating more unilateral exercises into your workout, you will be able to stimulate the muscle groups that have fallen behind to build a more balanced, symmetrical body.
Performing specific exercises on your body’s weaker limbs will lead to an increase in strength and neuromuscular coordination. It is also important to start every movement with your weaker side, as you will be able to focus more of your energy on the lagging limb. Try to incorporate some of the following exercises into your routine so you won’t have to worry about that one arm not filling out your favourite T-shirt, or an uneven back double-bi.
Now, “Let’s start building some hurtin’ bombs.”
I have tried to provide a few different progressions to accomodate the Beginner/Intermediate/Advanced lifter. If you don’t know where you fall please start with the Beginner exercise (the 1st exercise listed on each line)
1. Single arm Swing/Clean/Snatch
2. Split Squat/Rear Elevated Single Leg Squat
3. Single Leg Straight Leg Dead lift
4. Standing Renegade Row/Renegade Row/Bear Crawl
5. Stability Ball Single Arm Chest Press
6. Knees Bent Side Plank Thrust/Side Plank Thrust/Elevated Side Plank Thrust
Fat Loss Anyone?
Are you also interested in decreasing bodyfat? Kill two goals at one time by completing these exercises in a circuit fashion for a few rounds or group two exercises together and only rest 30 seconds between each exercise for a few sets.
*Before performing any of the exercises and their progressions from the list below, it is best if you have been screened for movement dysfunctions and asymmetries by a professional.
Nathane Jackson is a veteran health and wellness authority, specializing in holistic living. He has a decade worth of knowledge as a personal trainer and strength & conditioning coach and is dedicated to improving all aspects of health starting at the cellular level by combining holistic nutrition, functional exercise, and restorative practices to help his clients strengthen their mind, body and spirit.