What is Unilateral training?

By Mike Bourne, Program Coach XFIT Media City

Unilateral training is performing exercises that work one limb at a time exclusively or that is at least biased towards one limb. 

Benefits of Unilateral Exercise

  •  Build core stability
  • Helps prevent injury
  • Helps rehabilitation for injury
  • Corrects muscular imbalances
  • Great muscle focus to build strength

Here is one of my favourite unilateral workouts to do:

  • Start off by doing 12-15 reps of each exercise for three sets total.
  • The Death March is three sets of 14-20 steps.
  • Progression is to add weight and then you can change your reps and sets.
  • Four sets of 8-12 reps to build muscle(moderate weight)
  • Five sets of five reps with heavier weight to build strength.

The heavier the weight, the harder it pushes overall conditioning.


Bulgarian split squats

  • Rear foot elevated on bench
  •  Front leg squats downward
  •  Back knee to floor (if mobility allows)
  •  Drive up through front leg
  •  Maintain tight core and shoulders back chest up

Single arm dumbbell bent over row

  • Hinge from the hips
  • Maintain neutral fl at back position
  • Elbow stays close in near the body
  • Row back and upwards towards hips, elbow around 90 degrees
  • Refrain from bending elbow too much resulting in the bicep doing more work

Half kneeling bottom up single arm kettlebell press

  • Half kneeling position
  • Opposite arm to the front leg works
  • Hold kettlebell upside down (great stability for shoulder)
  • Press and fully extend arm above head in a controlled manner

Death march

  • Dumbbells in both hands
  • Small step forward
  • Front knee has a very slight bend
  • Back knee bends significantly more
  • Hinge at the hips (like a deadlift/back flat)
  • Squeeze glutes and drive hips forward to stand
  • Repeat alternately moving forwards

Top 10 bottom single arm dumbbell chest press

  • Drive feet into floor/squeeze glutes
  • Hold weights at top press position
  • Lower one weight and press while still holding the other up