Athletic Training for Weightlifter Part 5 – Unilateral Exercises
Have you ever had the feeling that one of the sides of the body feels weaker than the other?
For example, that your shoulder mobility is better on one side and one leg is just more stable than the other.
The body may appear symmetrical and an equal force distribution would be ideal, but reality often looks different.
Asymmetries in strength and mobility are developed in your everyday life. A wrong body posture, long periods of sitting and one-sided and continuously repeated movements are the reasons.
In weightlifting, mostly bilateral exercises are trained. Snatches, clean and jerks, and squats need both sides of the body to accelerate and distribute the weight. Disbalances show immediately, and a weaker leg can lead to shifting within the squat or to more weight being forced on the stronger leg, which leads to strains and injuries in the long run. Not only does the technique suffer from disbalances, but also the available overall strength cannot be used optimally.
To establish more symmetry within your body, unilateral exercises are a great addition to the regular training. A unilateral exercise is always performed on only one side, i.e. only with one arm or leg at the time. Most ball sports and even athletic disciplines like throwing are unilateral.
The advantages of unilateral exercises are clear. Not only do they help compensate disbalances, but they also require more coordination and stability, so that are new stimuli achieved. In addition, the core gets strengthened as well if a one-sided exercise is performed. The muscles of the lower back and the abdominal muscles compensate the instability. That means unilateral exercises are great to train your core.
There are various versions of unilateral exercises and you can get some good impressions from bodybuilding which can influence your training with a dumbbell for good. Presses and rowing movements are great to warm up or as an addition to your regular training. Bodyweight unilateral exercises, such as pistols or lunges, are great to warm up and work on your coordination and muscular disbalances. Even starting the step up on a box with the weaker leg or stability exercises on your weaker leg already have an impact on your hip stability.
As in the past parts of this athletic training for weightlifter series, I just want to give incentives to add particular exercises to your training routine. The number of sets and repetitions depends on your performance level and should only be specified by your coach or yourself. Only somebody who knows you and your body can decide what is useful and makes sense. Unilateral exercises are an addition to your regular training and should be treated as this. Countless sets or repetitions make no sense and will cost a lot of power.
Use those exercises to work on your weaknesses and use the right dosage.