Break It Up! Using Unilateral Exercises To Improve Balance

Last week in our Resistance Training 102 article we mentioned different types of equipment and how they can improve strength, balance, coordination and nervous system function.  Today we are going to build off the same principles and expound on why unilateral exercises should be incorporated as part of a complete workout program.

What are unilateral exercises? Unilateral exercises involve one side of the body at a time.  Dumbells, kettlebells, bands and cables are the most common tools used for unilateral exercises but don't limit yourself to any one piece of equipment.  One of the reasons unilateral exercises are so effective is because they cause the nervous system to recruit other muscles to help stabilize and complete the movement.  Balance is typically an afterthought in a training program, but good balance can translate to so many benefits.  Good balance limits risk of injury, allows greater strength to be expressed in unusual positions/ angles, and helps the body to work as whole unit, instead of individual muscles and movements isolated to each other. 

Who can benefit from balanace training?  Elderly adults at risk or history of falling would benefit the most directly from incorporating a balance program.  This risk of falling is typically secondary to atrophy of the muscles, loss of bone density, and other effects of aging. However, why wait until you are at risk of falling to train for balance? This brings us back to the importance of strength training as a part of an active lifestyle.  Athletes are another population that can directly benefit from balance training, especially sports and activities that require a high amount of balance like gymnastics, surfing, dancing, yoga, pilates and so on. 

Watch our video below for some simple techniques that you can start to implement into your training program.  If you need more guidance building a program to reach your goals, contact us to set up an exercise consult or consider one of our more extensive medical programs like the metabolic program.  Let will be your guides to an active and fulfilling lifestyle.


Alex Edwards, CEP

Exercise Physiologist


Disclaimer:  Articles are based on real cases seen at Scottsdale Sports Medicine. The information on this site is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. All content, including text, graphics, images and information, contained on or available through this web site is for general information purposes only. Please consult your medical professional for individualized healthcare.