Unilateral Exercise Benefits:
1) Lower risk of injury due to less muscle activation.
2) More effective in building overall strength.
3) Can increase performance during high intensity activities such as sprinting or jumping.
Unilateral Glute Exercises:
Abdominal Crunch (Lying Abduction):
Lie face down on the floor with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground. Keep your back straight and lower yourself until your head touches the floor. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat 10 times.
Stand up with one leg outstretched behind you, keeping your other knee bent at 90 degrees and keep it locked throughout the movement. Keeping your upper torso upright, bring both legs together so that they are almost touching each other before bringing them forward again while maintaining balance. Hold for 15 seconds then switch sides. Repeat 10 times on each side.
Start in a kneeling position with your hands clasped behind your head. Slowly raise yourself up by bending at the hips until you are standing upright. Return to starting position and repeat 5 times on each side.
Begin in a lunge position with one foot forward and the opposite foot back. Keep your torso upright and slowly lower yourself until the front leg reaches a 90 degree bend. Return to starting position and repeat 15 times on each side.
Make sure that you don’t overstretch as this can cause injury. If you have any knee, back or hip pain you should stop immediately and consult a doctor.
Unilateral Training For Athletes:
Unilateral exercises are used by a wide range of athletes, from boxer to sprinters and baseball players. The logic behind this is that using one limb at a time forces each limb to do more work than usual, hence strengthening it. Indeed, many sprinters use such exercises as part of their training regime. Many studies have also proven that for various sports unilateral training can lead to shorter sprint times and other benefits.
However, not everybody agrees that such exercises should be included in general workout routines. The common argument is that most sports require co-ordination between both sides of the body, hence making one side faster or stronger than the other will cause problems for the athlete. Indeed, studies have shown that no significant improvement in sprinting times occur when using one limb at a time.
Both sides have effective arguments and ultimately it comes down to personal choice.
Sources & references used in this article:
Does a water-training macrocycle really create imbalances in swimmers’ shoulder rotator muscles? by N Batalha, J Marmeleira, N Garrido… – European journal of sport …, 2015 – Taylor & Francis
Bilateral and unilateral movement training on upper limb function in chronic stroke patients: a TMS study by JJ Summers, FA Kagerer, MI Garry, CY Hiraga… – Journal of the …, 2007 – Elsevier
Unilateral balance training enhances neuromuscular reactions to perturbations in the trained and contralateral limb by ASC Oliveira, PB Silva, D Farina, UG Kersting – Gait & posture, 2013 – Elsevier
Effect of active foot positioning on the outcome of a balance training program by SA Rothermel, SA Hale, J Hertel, CR Denegar – Physical Therapy in Sport, 2004 – Elsevier
Comparison of bilateral and unilateral squat exercises on barbell kinematics and muscle activation by W Eliassen, AH Saeterbakken… – International journal of …, 2018 – ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
Chronic ankle instability and fatigue create proximal joint alterations during performance of the Star Excursion Balance Test by PA Gribble, J Hertel, CR Denegar – International journal of …, 2007 – thieme-connect.com
Trunk muscle electromyographic activity with unstable and unilateral exercises by DG Behm, AM Leonard, WB Young… – J Strength Cond …, 2005 – academia.edu