Updated: Apr 21
What is unilateral training?
Basically translates as 'one sided' training. It is best thought of as single limb training. As opposed to bilateral where we use both. For this blog I will only be talking about lower limb exercises.
I find unilateral exercises fantastic for building resilience in the lower limbs, as the base of support has gone. The stabilisers around the hips, knees and ankles have to work harder to keep form and keep the the body in line. This can translate into stronger joints and hopefully fewer injuries.
Unilateral exercises are also great if you do not have much weight equipment to hand. Obviously 20kg through one leg is harder than through two. Also the leg is having to work harder against bodyweight as this will usually be divided between two limbs.
Unilateral exercises are also great for addressing asymmetry's (where one limb is significantly stronger than the other) which has been suggested as an injury risk factor. The nervous system will also have to adjust to not relying on the dominant leg.
Lastly running is a single legged sport, we do not bounce forward on two legs! So it has been suggested that the intermuscular coordination is more specific to running when performed on one leg.
Unilateral training is not all you need as a runner. It easier and more stable to lift heavier weights with bilateral exercises. So if you are trying to develop strength and power bilateral squats and deadlifts are still going to be your go to exercise. However the benefits from unilateral exercises will be useful in getting you as strong and resilient as you can be.
Here is a solid session to develop unilateral strength.
WARM UP FIRST USING BODYWEIGHT EXERCISES.
SET 1 (X3)
SPLIT SQUAT X 8/8
PRESS UPS X 10-20
SET 2 (X 3)
SINGLE LEG STRAIGHT LEG DEADLIFT X 8/8
DUMBELL ROWS X 10-15
SET 3 (X 3)
WALKING LUNGES X 20
SINGLE LEG CALF RAISE X 10/10