One of the best ways to shock your muscles into new growth is to force them to deal with a stress that they are not at all used to. Because the human body is literally an “adaptive machine,” if you continually perform the same exercises over and over again you will eventually reach a plateau in size, even if you successfully increase your strength. Utilizing unilateral exercises is a fantastic method for providing a unique stimulus to the muscles and nervous system, with the result being a heightened hypertrophy response. Some of the advantages of unilateral movements include:
1-The ability to concentrate more completely on the target muscle, allowing for more intense contractions and superior pumps.
2-The utilization of more muscle fibers and exhaustion of more motor unit pools within the target muscle.
3-Enhanced “neural drive” to the target muscle.
4-Improvement of strength imbalances between each side of the body.
5-Greater stimulation of stabilizer muscles.
While many of you have probably used basic unilateral movements such as concentration curls and one arm dumbbell rows, there are dozens more “one-sided” exercises available that you may have never thought of, or taken the time to try. But this is a mistake, as you never know if you are missing out on a “hidden gem” of a movement that could take your development to the next level. With that in mind, here is a list of some of my favorite unilateral exercises that I utilize myself, and with my more advanced clientele.
• Chest: single arm machine chest press, single arm cable flye, single arm cable crossover, single arm pec deck flye
• Lats: single arm dumbbell row, single arm BB row, single arm seated cable row (high, low, standard pulley), single arm pulldown
• Delts: seated or standing single arm dumbbell press, single arm machine press, single arm dumbbell/cable lateral (front, side, rear), single arm dumbbell upright row
• Biceps: single arm cable curl (upper, lower pulley), single arm preacher curl, single arm dumbbell curl (all types)
• Triceps: kickbacks, single arm lying/seated extensions, single arm pushdowns (reverse grip, standard, rope)
• Legs: single leg squats, single legged leg press, single leg extensions, step-ups, single leg lying/seated/standing leg curls, single leg stiff leg deadlift, single arm stiff leg deadliest
• Calves: single leg seated raise, single leg standing raise (machine/DB), single leg calf press
• Traps: single arm dumbbell/machine shrugs, dumbbell cleans, single arm dumbbell upright row
• Low back: Single arm dumbbell deadlift
• Forearms: single arm dumbbell wrist and reverse wrist curl
I’m sure if you think about it you can come up with dozens more unique unilateral exercises of your own. Start by adding one unilateral exercise to each body part workout and if you are finding that you are getting excellent results, perhaps in time, add a second one. Actually, I have had some of my very best and most intense workouts by training exclusively unilaterally. Just remember that some unilateral exercises can be difficult to perform at first and until you have it mastered, you might not get the full benefit from it. It certainly takes a few workouts to get used to movements like single leg squats and deadlifts, but once you do, you can rest assured that you will see new gains in muscle/strength rather rapidly. Stick to each new unilateral exercise for about 6-8 weeks before you switch to another, but don’t be afraid to “play with” and tweak your form a bit each workout until you find what feels best to you.
Now get in the gym and get a little “one-sided” about your training!
-CEO B Built International www.b-built.net
-AAP Director of PR/Social Media/Marketing www.allamericanpharmaceutical.com
-Natural Professional Bodybuilder/Judge/Advisory Board Member
-Columnist @ Iron Man/Planet Muscle/Natural Muscle/www.muscleandfitness.com
-Creator of the PRRS, FDFS and O-Bey-6 Training Systems