The Importance of Unilateral Training

If you ever worked out at Core Principles you probably noticed doing many single-leg and single-arm movements such as one-arm cable row, single-leg deadlift, box-step up etc. The other day a while working out a client, she asked me what was the point of doing a single-leg squat to a box, when she could just do a bilateral squat using both legs. She thought a regular squat would be more time-efficient and more effective when it comes to hypertrophy and strength development.


I began to explain that though bilateral squats are crucial for lower body strength, unilateral movements are an important part of a well-balanced exercise program, have a ton of benefits and are not to be ignored.


Single leg and arm exercises are imperative when it comes to fitness and overall body health as they help correct muscular imbalances, strengthen stabilizer muscles and connective tissues, improve balance and aid in injury prevention.

Muscle Imbalances
Most people are stronger in one side of their body. If you’re right handed it’s probably your right side! Ever notice that when picking up a bag of heavy groceries or pulling a heavy door open you use the same arm you write with? That’s your dominant side. Unilateral exercises such as a single-arm chest press or one-arm cable row help strengthen your “weaker” side and prevent over-use of the dominant side. This creates a more balanced body and helps avoid unnecessary muscle strains that lead to pain and discomfort.
Stabilization and Balance
Stabilizer muscles are usually smaller in size and work to stabilize the body during certain movements requiring more balance. If you ever walk across a balance beam or try to stand up on an unstable surface (i.e. surf-board), you know that you need a lot of stability and balance. Unilateral work helps strengthen the stabilizer muscles so that the big primary movers, such as glutes or lats, can do their job efficiently and with much needed support and assistance from the stabilizers.
Injury prevention
Evening out any muscle asymmetries, strengthening and improving balance and stability is huge when it comes to injury prevention. Anytime you perform a multi-planar movement requiring multiple joints, you want your body to be able to stabilize itself and move efficiently without compensating. If you like playing sports such as golf, tennis, basketball etc. unilateral training will not only keep you in top shape, but most of all help you stay safe and alleviate the risk of injury when faced with more physical demands and challenges!
For more tips on exercise, nutrition and building healthy habits, be sure to email us at and let us know how we can help!

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