Incorporating Unilateral Exercise in Your Workout

A man squatting on one foot, with his other foot stretched in front of hiim

Unilateral exercises involve the use of a single leg or single arm in working out rather than using both concurrently as in bilateral training. Training both sides at once offers a lot of benefits but may also lead to injury as you may end up overtraining the dominant side. Unilateral training enables you to address each side movement patterns, strength, and weakness.

Benefits of Unilateral Training

  • Reduce muscle imbalance
  • Build functional strength
  • Build core stability
  • Reduce injury
  • Increase muscle recruitment
  • Improve mind muscle connection
  • Facilitate rehabilitation

Here are some unilateral exercises to incorporate;

Fire hydrant

The fire hydrant is an excellent unilateral exercise for your lower body that engages the glute in building hip stability. To perform this exercise, position yourself on your hands and knees with hands under the shoulders and knees under the hips. Raise your right leg till its parallel to the ground. Stay in that position for a few seconds. Repeat severally for the same leg before switching to the other side.

Single-legged squats

One legged squats enable you to develop balance and strength. Balance on your right leg and bend your left knee. Lift your left foot off the floor while maintaining the right knee pointed forward. Squat slowly then return to initial position and repeat on the other side

Single-leg deadlift

Not only does single-leg deadlift improve your balance but it also strengthens your back. Balance on your right leg with knee slightly bent. Lower your arms such that they hang down to the ground and the left toe slightly touching the ground. Lift your left leg towards the wall with the back flat. Hinge over and then return to standing position. Repeat several times.

Single-arm dumbbell press

While lying down on a bench, hold a dumbbell in one hand on top of the thigh. Use the thigh and the other hand to lift the dumbbell over you. Rotate your wrist so that your palm is pointed toward your toes. Bring the dumbbell down slowly to your side as you breathe in. Push the dumbbell up using your chest muscles as you breathe out. Repeat the movement and then switch to the other arm.


Lunges are simple single-leg exercises. To perform the lunges, simply stand straight up and take a step forward with right leg. Lower the body until the right thigh is parallel to the ground. Repeat on the other side.

When doing unilateral exercise, work your weak side first. You can incorporate unilateral training in a combined training program with bilateral to reap maximum benefits.