Unilateral Strength Training Builds Endurance Athletes

May 19, 2019

Unilateral strength training helps endurance athletes build balance and critical strength.

Endurance athletes need to do strength training two or three times a week for several reasons: to counteract aging, to build strength for cycling, and to build bone density to counteract the non-weight-bearing nature of cycling.

unilateral strength training

Unilateral Strength Training to Build Balance

One focus is full-body exercises, like squats, deadlifts, and work that strengthens my core. Several years ago, I was hit on my bike by a pickup truck and broke my femur. There?s still a rod in the bone, and I still get fatigued in that leg far more quickly.

So research suggests unilateral strength training – working on one muscle side at a time to develop your weaknesses, to strengthen weak or underdeveloped parts of my body, especially with the repetitive type of cycling exercise,

My biggest piece of advice: Start very slowly with minimal weight!

I thought to myself, well, I?ve been doing a lot of strength work, and I?ll be fine.

Oops. Holy sore muscles, Batman. Those stabilizer and weaknesses get quickly revealed doing this kind of work.

In the aspects of unilateral strength training, reducing the weight and increased the reps to about eight helps avoid serious soreness and fatigue, plus you can do back to back (super) sets with a lower-body exercise and, while resting from that, do an upper body exercise.

Photo by Foto Garage AG on Unsplash

Workout Routines for Unilateral Strength Training

Here is a possible unilateral strength training list for Day 1:

  • Single arm push press
  • Bulgarian split squat
  • Chest press with single dumbbell
  • Single arm row and push with a band but making sure to keep core stabilized
  • Turkish Hinge
  • Single-arm row
  • Core work including side plank, one-arm planks

Here is a possible unilateral strength training list for Day 2:

  • Single arm dumbbell snatch
  • Turkish get up – which I often use as a warm up for all workouts
  • Lateral lunge
  • Glute bridge with one leg
  • Pull rotation on Kinesis or cable machine
  • Single arm pull – anti-rotation on TRX
  • Dumbbell one-leg deadlift
  • Core work

In addition, you can also add in:

  • Pistol Squats
  • Airborne Lunge
  • Step ups
  • Side Plank Stars
  • Side Plank with Dumbbell

Add pistol squats with a weight in one hand or single-leg airborne lunge, which is leaning forward and dropping the knee.

Video Examples

Here are some great links to videos to show you how to do these unilateral strength training. This one is from Redefining Strength and offers a lot of simple, solid advice. This one is from Athletic Build and has some really fit people demonstrating how to do these unilateral exercises.

Remember to start slowly with light weight. Do three sets of five reps, and build to moderately heavy weight.

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  2. Sally Giles

    Interesting stuff to read. Keep it up.



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