Let me tell you a little story. On Tuesday, I did what we call an orientation with a new member at work. The idea is to show them how to use the equipment, leave them with a basic workout they can do on their own, and, ultimately, to sell them personal training services.
The gentleman I worked with had been working out regularly at his old club, so he really just wanted to get to know our equipment. We, of course, take a Par Q and brief medical history before we work out with someone, and I learned that he had some chronic knee pain caused, he said, by years of golfing, where the torque on his left knee cause it to swell and ache sometimes.
When we got to the leg machines (we have three: leg press, leg curl, and leg extension), I asked him how his knee felt and if he had used similar machines in the past. He said yes, so we hopped on the leg press. He set his own weight, I adjusted his position a little, and he did a couple repetitions. Then I asked him about the balance of strength between his two legs, and if he noticed a difference. He wasn’t sure what I meant, so I had him do unilateral leg presses, using just one leg at a time with, obviously, reduced weight. He was shocked at the difference in strength between his good side and bad. We followed up doing the same thing on the other two leg machines.
The point of this is, that our bodies are a mass of imbalances. Whether we do sports, have either current or past injuries, or just daily living, some parts of our body are stronger, weaker, more or less flexible, and just, well, different than others. That is why strength training in general is important, and why unilateral exercises are vital.
The One Sided Workout: Unilateral Exercises to Balance your Body
This workout is a total body, functional workout, which focuses on unilateral exercises and movements. All you need is a dumbbell or a kettlebell (or a rock if that’s handier!). Because these exercises challenge the balance of your body, they are also great for strengthening your core.
Warm up for at least 10 minutes before beginning the workout. Complete each exercise, in order, without a break. Then take a minute to rest and repeat. Each exercise should be performed for 45 seconds. On the alternating exercises, simply do them for 90 seconds.
Here are a few instructions and modifications for each exercise. You should use a modification level which challenges you, but allows you to complete the exercise with good form. You can click on the photos to see clearly or to print.
Alternate rowing sides. Keep abdominal muscles engaged.
Modifications: You can do this exercise on your knees. You can also elevate one leg, alternating the raised leg after you complete each row.
One Leg Squat
Because of my knee, without extra support I tend to lean too far forward and can’t squat as deep as I can with the support. Just a reminder that you need to pick the modification that is right for you, not just do the “hard version.” That’s not necessarily the better version.
One Leg Deadlift/Triceps Kickback
Unilateral Shoulder Press
Modifications: Stand on two legs, stand on a balance pad or Bosu.
Unilateral Chest Press
Keep your other hand on your hip, and if you’re using a stability ball, keep your hips elevated to create a “tabletop” position.
Lunge with Bicep Curl
Do you train unilaterally? What are your favorite unilateral exercises? Can you do a pistol squat?
And, I’m guest posting over on The Healthy Fit Foodie! Check it out!
Disclaimer: Although I am a certified Personal Trainer, I am not YOUR Personal Trainer. Always adapt workouts to suit your body and fitness level. Always consult your doctor before beginning a new exercise program.
My weekly linkups! Please stop by and check out all of the great recipes, workouts, and information that all these awesome bloggers share every week!
Meatless Monday with Tina and Deborah
Meatless Monday with Annmarie
Bonnie, the Pin Junkie
Tip Tuesday with Debbie in Shape
Wild Workout Wednesday with Annmarie, Michelle, Sarah, and Angelena Marie
Wednesday Wisdom with Nanna’s Wisdom
The Blog Booster Party with Kathleen
Friday Fitness with Jill