Saturday, December 4, 2010

5 Ways to Train Unilaterally

I know it's already Saturday, but I've been meaning to fill you in on Thursday's lunch. It's a completely random subject, but the story is great and it'll lead me into today's fit topic. So hear me out: I left work around 11:00AM, drove to pick my husband up at a car place, then drove with him to our local grocery store where I managed to pull this together for lunch:

On a cold winter day, a girl (well...THIS girl) wants nothing more than a fresh summer salad full of color, deliciousness and nutritiousness. I topped it off with some EVOO and balsamic vinegar, a small cup of Starbuck's Christmas Blend coffee and a side of flaxy garlic rice thins—and I was in heaven. Or so I thought. Obviously there are two sides to every story, and the second side of this particular one took place after I dropped Jason off at his office. I was driving home, I got a phone call from the gym. "We need you to come back," she said. I had to go back around 3:00PM anyway, but she insisted it couldn't wait. And also that I wasn't in trouble. So...wha?! Well, this:

My boss' husband had about six boxes of quite possibly ten different decadent desserts sent to the gym as a treat for all of the employees. And my girls at the front desk knew, they absolutely knew I'd want a, taste (and clearly I did, which truly put me in heaven).

Bit of Swiss Bakery in Stevensville, Michigan—you are amazing!
Boss' husband, if you happen to be reading this, you're a good man.

Hence, the two very different sides of my lunch story. I went from healthy eating to, well...not so healthy eating. But I obviously did not gorge myself on any of the treats, though I did allow myself to partake in them. My point? Eat healthy, but don't deprive yourself of your favorites. Work with both sides of your diet story to keep yourself happy, healthy and satisfied. It's all about portion control and moderation. I hope this you already know.

Now, what the hee-haw does all this have to do with training unilaterally? Nothing really, except that it reiterates the two-sides concept. We humans have two sides. Our right side and our left side. Quite often, we train both of them at the same time. Bicep curls, squats, various pulls and pushes...we're always using both arms or both legs at the same time. Which means we so often train bilaterally. Which brings me to the dictionary definition of unilateral.

See where I'm going with this? We can, in fact train unilaterally and it's often a great way increase your strength and muscle definition. Especially if you've been feeling plateau-ish. Despite what we may think, our two sides are not created equally and we are often stronger on one side.When we train bilaterally, our stronger side just might take on more than our weaker side. I'm not saying this is always the case, just that it can happen. So it's worth it to implement this training technique on occasion. You know, just in case.

Here are five ways to train unilaterally. Complete all repetitions on Side A before moving on to Side B.

1) Single-Leg Chair Sits: Grab a chair or bench, stand in front of it on your right leg while holding
    your left leg off the ground in front of you. Sit down, then stand up to complete one repetition
2) One-Arm Bent Row: Place a dumbbell in your right hand, lean on a bench with your left hand and
    left knee. Row the dumbbell up to your side, lowering it to complete one repetition.
3) One-Arm Chest Press: Lie flat on a bench, dumbbell in your right hand. Left hand relaxed on
    your stomach. Lift and lower to complete one repetition, making sure your elbow doesn't fall below
    your body.
4) One-Arm Bicep Curl: I mean, you're a bicep curl pro by now. Right?
5) One-Arm Skull Crusher: Lie flat on a bench, dumbbell in your right hand. Bend your arm at the
    elbow, essentially taking the dumbbell down toward your head—don't let it hit your head, though!
    Straighten your arm then repeat.

Of course, there are many more exercises that can be adapted to unilateral training. There are just a few, picked for their universal appeal. Now, if you're wondering which side is stronger, just do each exercise once, working to failure on each side. Obviously the side that completes more repetitions is the strong-side winner.

Question: Which of your sides is stronger? And is it the side you write with?

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