The fitness column is written by personal trainer, Idris Aura.
If it’s been a while since you changed your training routine/program and your progress is stalling and getting too monotonous, then it’s about time to change your fitness program and include single-limb exercises.
Based on the practical theory of when we run or jog, we propel ourselves forward from one foot to the other and hence generating a movement solemnly on a single leg. This is replicated in most day to day chores, which requires or depends on single leg or arm involvement. So, in the weight room it’s not uncommon to see how single-limb or unilateral training helps participants improve on imbalance, stability, core activation, strength, speed and power.
The benefits of training on one leg are endorsed by most strength coaches and trainers. However, the gap on how to progress from one exercise to another is still a bone of contention among the elite coaches. When trainers prescribe these exercises, their purpose is to improve muscle recruitment patterns and challenge internal balance mechanisms. This is for improving stability in relation to their current «footage» in their training level or ability.
Unilateral training helps to equalize the body segmentally and hence improve the general performance, increase efficiency and work on muscle compensation caused by wrong or outdated training techniques, injury or accidents/trauma to the body.
I’m not suggesting that you should abandon your standard training routine for a completely single-limb approach. But, based on human physiology and performance it’s worth to incorporate single arm or leg exercises to your workout plan for a challenge and periodic change.
Performing unilateral exercises towards the end of your workout for a particular body part increases the challenge, due to the muscle stress accumulated from previous exercises. There are various unilateral exercises, but majority are derived from the below named;
1. concentration curls
2. one-arm back rows
3. single-legged leg presses
4. single-legged squats (pistols)
5. single-arm dumbbell shoulder presses
6. single-arm crossovers
7. single-arm lat pulldowns
8. single-arm kettle-bell movements
9. side plank
10. Bulgarian split squats
And more! Many variations can be included to suit your level of fitness and fitness objectives, but what is guaranteed in the end is noticeable improvements in strength, speed and muscle hypertrophy. Especially on weaker muscle groups due to the undivided attention given while executing the workout on a single-limb.
If you can’t perform the exercises in a safe and right technique – don’t give up and label it «not good». Simply try, and move on by the end of the day. All exercises are good, it just depends on who is doing them.
Have a good «all inclusive» workout!