The Effective Applications for Unilateral vs Bilateral Training:
Unilateral training is a method of exercise selection that involves performing one or more exercises with different muscle groups than those used during the same exercise performed with the dominant arm. For example, if you perform bench press using your triceps, then you could do so with your bicep instead. You would use the opposite side muscles when doing such exercises.
Bilateral training is a method of exercise selection that involves performing one or more exercises with the same muscle group as those used during the same exercise performed with the non-dominant arm. For example, if you perform leg extension using your quadriceps, then you could do so with your hamstrings instead. You would use the same side muscles when doing such exercises.
In order to maximize strength gains, it is recommended that you train both sides equally. However, some individuals may prefer to focus on one side over another. If you are interested in learning which exercises work best for each side, read on!
Why Should I Train Both Sides?
There are many reasons why you might want to train both sides equally.
First, if you focus on one side more than the other, you are more prone to injury when performing that same activity in real life. If you only trained your left arm to throw a medicine ball and then had to use your right arm, for example, you would be at a disadvantage. You might want to train both sides in order to prevent this from happening.
Second, most people are naturally inclined to focus on their dominant side. This could lead to muscular imbalances over time, which can lead to pain and injuries. By training both sides equally, you can help avoid this from happening.
Third, you will probably find that you perform each side of an exercise at a different level of quality. For example, when performing bench press, some people will find that one arm is weaker than the other. This directly affects how the exercise is performed.
Sources & references used in this article:
Single-leg power output and between-limbs imbalances in team-sport players: Unilateral versus bilateral combined resistance training by O Gonzalo-Skok, J Tous-Fajardo… – … journal of sports …, 2017 – journals.humankinetics.com
Core stability training: applications to sports conditioning programs by JM Willardson – The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 2007 – akot.com.ar
Comparison between unilateral and bilateral plyometric training on single-and double-leg jumping performance and strength by GC Bogdanis, A Tsoukos, O Kaloheri… – The Journal of …, 2019 – cdn.journals.lww.com
Effects of unilateral and bilateral plyometric training on power and jumping ability in women by H Makaruk, JB Winchester, J Sadowski… – The Journal of …, 2011 – cdn.journals.lww.com
Unilateral vs. bilateral squat training for strength, sprints, and agility in academy rugby players by DE Speirs, MA Bennett, CV Finn… – The Journal of Strength …, 2016 – cdn.journals.lww.com
The effects of short-term unilateral and bilateral lower-body resistance training on measures of strength and power by KW McCurdy, GA Langford, MW Doscher… – The Journal of …, 2005 – fittech.com.au