Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Test your Strength Unilaterally


We did an article earlier on the benefits of using unilateral lifts for better results. You can read it HERE
The basics are you can move more than 50% of your bi-lateral load by doing exercises unilaterally. About 20% more. That means more progress in strength and size.

However, there’s another reason to use unilateral lifts. Chances are you are stronger on one side than the other. That’s normal. The problem is your dominant arm or leg may continue to get stronger but the non-dominant limb will often lag farther and farther behind.

This is especially true if you have any old injuries or suffer from any type of pain (even minor pain you may not even pay much attention to) in one limb. Your body will automatically cause more of the load to transfer to the stronger limb or the one that doesn’t cause pain.

Try this:

First, do a vertical leg press using both legs but pay close attention to the amount of pressure on the bottom of your feet. I’m betting you will feel a difference. Also, pay close attention to your foot placement on the plate. You’ll often place the weaker side in a more comfortable, but often less advantageous, position. You do this subconsciously. It’s a safety mechanism your body does automatically.

By paying close attention you’ll probably find that the limb that is taking the dominant role begins to tire first. If the load were evenly distributed it would be the opposite. Your naturally weaker limb would begin to tire first.

So what’s the big deal? Eventually the compensation can create an imbalance large enough to create problems in other areas. In the case of the leg press that issue may manifest itself in the hip. 

Now try the same experiment with any type of upper body push press. (Like a bench press or overhead press) You may find a similar issue. And if the compensation continues long enough you’re going to end up with shoulder or elbow problems.

The Solution:

Pay attention and try to even out the bilateral load. But also give the weaker limb more work using unilateral movements.

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