Unilateral training – what it is and why you NEED to do it


Have you ever noticed you have a dominant side of your body which feels stronger and more coordinated? This is actually very common! However, if you don’t address these muscle imbalances, it can result in overusing the dominant side and negatively impact your training and performance and may even result in injury. 

This is where unilateral training comes in – unilateral translates as one side and it means just that – doing single-leg and single-arm movements to equally train both sides of the body to prevent overtraining or compensating with the dominant side. 

For example a unilateral exercise might be a single arm dumbbell shoulder press – the bilateral (both sides) would be a barbell shoulder press.  With the bilateral exercise – i.e. using a barbell – your stronger side can compensate for the weaker side.  This is great in every day life as it allows you to lift more BUT it doesn’t address the issue of the weaker side staying weaker.  

In our SBX programme we do most of our strength training unilaterally and we also NEVER use a barbell.

Key technical words – unilateral – one sided – think dumbbells and kettlebells, bilateral – two sided – think barbells.

Why we love unilateral training in SBX – some detail 


Only performing bilateral lifts such as squats, chest press and deadlifts can result in unnoticed muscle imbalances and have a detrimental impact if not addressed. Not including unilateral exercises in your training routine can lead to unnoticed tendency to compensate, leading to muscle weakness, discomfort and injury. Unilateral training can address movement-based imbalances and enable you to notice where you may be weaker/stronger so that you can address these issues and improve your strength.


Single sided movements requires greater coordination and work from your stabilizing muscles. This style of training isolates and trains individual movements to promote muscular growth and development.


Training unilaterally naturally promotes improved movement patterns and challenges your core muscles to support the imbalanced load. Studies have shown that single arm movements result in greater muscle activity and core stabilization. Having a strong core is not only beneficial for performance but also posture and injury prevention


Poor movement patterns and overused muscular imbalances can often result in injuries.. Unilateral training isolates specific muscles and joints, increasing muscular symmetry movement and development. It also allows you to strengthen weaker muscles and close any major gaps that may otherwise go unnoticed. 


The SBX programme has strength training at its core.  It is a no barbell programme so unilateral training is an essential element.   This gives you the opportunity to develop a balanced strength whilst maintaining form.  See Coach Fares performing some unilateral training here 

Choose lower body and upper body SBX BUILD and achieve functional strength that enables you to perform and enjoy a full active life

Why not give SBX training a try and find out how our programme of strength first training can improve your life – buy a taster class here 

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