Fed up of doing the same exercises? Want to add some variety to your training programme and focus on building stability and control. Whilst I am a fan of bilateral strength movements such as the squat, deadlift, bench press, pull ups etc. we need to add some uni-lateral movements if we want to focus on developing balance and working on imbalances.
Most sports often involve single arm and leg patterns - sprinting, throwing, jumping, kicking, hitting (tennis, hockey), thus uni-lateral exercises can be very applicable to athletic movements. What you will find with most athletes that play sports that rely heavily on one side of the body is that huge asymmetries arise - for example, most tennis players I work with are hugely out of balance with the side of the body they hold their racquet in being much stronger. Whilst that is normal when you are playing a sport regularly that relies on using one side of the body more than the other, it is not necessarily healthy for the body to be so out of balance - thus incorporating unilateral movements can help iron out these differences.
Here are 3 of my favourite uni-lateral exercises using the dumbbell:
#1 - Dumbbell 1 Arm Z-Press
This exercise challenges both mobility and stability. Many individuals might struggle to keep an upright posture seated on the ground and thus might begin with butt on a slightly raise surface. The exercise is great for focusing on uni-lateral shoulder strength as you can't use drive from the legs to help push the dumbbell overhead.
#2: Dumbbell Single Leg RDL
The RDL is a fantastic exercise for developing strength in the posterior chain (glutes, hamstrings, lower back) - very important for most sporting movements. Taking that RDL onto a single leg signifanctly increases proprioception and stability demands. Whilst you won't be able to go as heavy as a barbell RDL you will definitely be challenged by trying to maintain good body position - you can also work on an explosive drive back to start position.
#3: Dumbbell Reverse Lunge to OH Press
This bad boy has always been one of my favourites, incorporating both an upper and lower body movement to challenge entire body strength and stability. We can use a reasonable weight as the lower body allows us to build momentum which helps on the pressing movement. Keep the core tight and try to keep the movement fast and smooth.
Are you unsure on how to put a programme together that is right for you? Do you want to improve your athletic performance and avoid injuries? Jump on a free 15minutes call and I can help to guide you towards becoming the strongest version of yourself - BOOK A CALL If you enjoyed the article make sure to share with somebody who will find it useful.