A unilateral exercise is where you would use one side or one limb like a ‘step up’ and a bilateral exercise would be a ‘squat’ where both feet work together.
Balance Doing a single leg or arm exercise requires much more balance as it has a smaller base of support. This means that more stabilising muscles are used to pull you back into centre with a big emphasis on your core.
Improve Muscle Symmetry Everyone has a weaker side because we are right or left side dominant so we tend to use the that side more without conscious thought. To keep those muscles in balance and prevent overuse, unilateral exercises help build strength individually.
Even though you may be able to lift much more weight on one side than the other, DON’T because it will create further imbalance. Instead, use the same weight your non-dominant side can handle safely.
Functional Strength Most of our daily activities require unilateral movements (walking, carrying a shopping bag etc) so training unilaterally transfers to improving our everyday life.
Examples of Unilateral Exercises Step ups, bulgarian split squats (in video), single arm press (in video) and turkish getups. In fact you can google plenty of them.
So now that we know the benefits, add these into your workouts, but don’t forget to keep those bilateral exercises as they have benefits of their own, give yourself plenty of variety.
Stay Awesome! Coach Ange