working out
Feb 1, 2020 - McCormick YMCA

Unilateral vs Bilateral exercises

Bilateral exercises such as squats are exercises in which you are using both sides of the body at the same time to perform an exercise motion. Bilateral exercises allow you to increase the weight load of an exercise for more strength gains and muscle mass increase. 

Unilateral exercises such as Lunges are exercises that are performed by using one side of the body at a time and performs the work alone. Unilateral exercises allow the body to focus on increasing the level of stability and strength on each side individually. This is important to understand because unilateral exercises will help counteract muscle imbalances in which the strong or dominant side takes over more of the workload than the weak side and will eventually become so worn out because of adhesion formation, muscle knots or tightness which causes a reduction of flexibility as well. It is important to decrease muscle imbalances as these can cause injuries in the future and may cause a cascade of negative effects of the body that may take longer to correct or eliminate. Unilateral exercises also do a very good job at strengthening and training your stabilizer muscles to synchronize and fire together instead of at different times which as I mentioned before in my previous post is the foundation to increase your strength levels and eventually gains. With unilateral exercises, however, you are not going to be able to load the same amount of weight as you do in a bilateral exercise and can even be dangerous if not careful. 

Overall, it is best to incorporate both types of exercises to have a well-rounded program and see great results, but if you notice that, your stability is not the greatest or you know you have muscle imbalances, then your focus should definitely be more inclined to the unilateral exercises.