One fitness goal that many work toward is having a balanced body in both physique and strength. While as humans we have bilateral mirror symmetry it's typically not exact. One eye might be slightly bigger than the other. The right foot may be shaped a little differently than the left. The same goes for the muscles in our body in regard to both strength and shape. Sometimes the differences between right and left are genetic and other times due to external influences such as always picking things up with the right hand. I know that my right upper arm has always been slightly bigger than my left and that my left thigh is slightly bigger than my right. A lot of times these size discrepancies go unnoticed, but if the difference is ~0.5 inches or more it can be visible. More importantly, having unbalanced strength between sides of the body can possibly lead to injury. 

Resistance training, in general, can help balance out our bodies, but if one is not intentional we can create an even great unbalance. When doing lifts with a barbell or machine oftentimes the stronger side will take over without us even knowing it.  Unilateral exercises are key to fixing these situations. One-sided movements can be done with dumbbells, cables, and some plate loaded unilateral machines like Hammer Strength. Doing some exercises one side at a time can also help develop a 'mind-muscle' connection so we get more out of the exercise. This type of training also makes the core work overtime to keep our body stabilized. I suggest doing at least one uni-lateral movement for each muscle group fairly often and sometimes do a full workout this way.It will take time and consistency, but including unilateral training into your routines will help bring balance to the force...I mean your body. 

Unilateral Training Tips

  • Always have the weaker side dictate how much weight is used and the rep count. Then match on the stronger side. 
  • Start all sets with the weaker side. 
  • Do your best to keep your body straight when doing unilateral exercises. Try not to lean or twist the body. Keep your core engaged throughout the movements. 
  • Vary up your unilateral training by using dumbbells, kettlebells, cables, and machines.
  • Start with lighter weight and build for safety. One typically cannot do 50% of their standard exercise weight with one side right out of the gate. 

Unilateral Exercises

Quads: Leg Extension, Leg Press, Bulgarian Split Squat

Hamstrings: Lying Leg Curl, Seated Leg Curl, Single-Leg DB Romanian Deadlift

Calves: Single Leg Standing Calf Raise, Calf Jump, Calf Press

Chest: Hammer Strength Machine Press, DB Press (flat and incline), DB Fly (flat and incline)

Back: DB Row, Hammer Strength Machine Pulldowns and Rows, Cable Rows

Delts: Lateral Raise (standing and bent), DB Press (seated and standing), DB Upright Row, DB Front Raise

Biceps: All variations of cable and DB Curls

Triceps: Overhead DB Extension, Lying DB Extension, Single Arm Pushdowns, Kick Backs


Example Upper Body Workout

  1. Unilateral Hammer Strength Pulldown: 5 sets of 15,12,10,8,6 reps.
  2. DB Row: 5 sets of 15,12,10,8,6 reps.
  3. Unilateral Flat DB Press: 4 sets of 12,12,10,8 reps.
  4. Unilateral Incline DB Fly: 3 sets of 12 reps.
  5. Unilateral Side Raise: 5 sets of 15,15,10,10,6-8 reps.
  6. Unilateral Standing DB Overhead Delt Press: 4 sets of 15,12,10,6-8 reps.
  7. Unilateral Reverse Pushdown: 5 sets of 20,15,10,6-8,20 reps.
  8. Unilateral Overhead DB Ext: 4 sets of 10-12 reps.

Take Pre-Kaged 30 minutes before the workout, In-Kaged during, and Re-Kagedimmediately after the workout. 

Annihilate to Motivate,

Michael Wittig, ISSA CPT

IPE Natural Pro 3x Champ

IG: @WittigWorks

FB: @WittigWorks

Sign Up & Save