Most of us have muscular imbalances—a weaker arm, shoulder, leg, etc. If you find yourself constantly doing the classic barbell movements (barbell bench press, deadlift, and back squat) then you might be further developing and exacerbating your own imbalances.
We can start to iron out these imbalances by introducing single leg and single arm work into your programming. The obvious place to insert this type of work is into your specific warm up and your supplemental work.
Here’s an example of how to include some unilateral work into a specific warm-up:
- 2x15m single arm overhead walking lunges at moderate dumbbell weight (each arm)
- 2x15m offset suitcase carry walking lunges at one moderate dumbbell and one heavy dumbbell (i.e. 25lb dumbbell and 45lb dumbbell)
- 3×10 Bulgarian split squats with a 10-second hold on the last rep
- 3×10 single arm kettlebell press with a light bell
Here’s an example of unilateral work:
Barbell Reverse Lunge (plus step up complex)
- 1x reverse lunge + 1x step up onto 16-20″ box, 10x reps each leg, no alternating, at 95-135#
- 3 rounds – 8x single arm half kneeling kettlebell presses, each arm, each side
- 3 rounds – 10x single arm kettlebell floor press with a 24-32kg bell, each arm
Put It to Practice
Get creative. Dumbbells and kettlebells are a great way to train your limbs independently and make sure you’re not developing a “strong” side or a “weak” side. Too much emphasis on barbell work can create and worsen this phenomenon.
The only rule you need to remember in writing your own specific warm-ups and supplementals is this: it can’t be harder than the workout. It has to supplement the workout or prepare you for the work ahead. In general, try to stick to no more than 2-3 supplemental exercises and scale the specific warm up to your fitness level and work capacity.