It’s become a habit at this point: Stroll on the dumbbell rack and grab a set of weights. They are the preferred tool for mutual training – working evenly on both sides of the body throughout the movement. And yes, it’s a great way to exercise effectively and build strength. The downside is that mutual training can mask muscular imbalances, with its weaker counterpart being more than a dominant factor. Dividing the movements into two right, then left into doubles your gym time. But it also helps with problems and correct issues (ie weightlifting errors) that are hindering you in ways you are not aware of.
“If you support on one side, you will only strengthen it,” says Lawrence Herrera, owner of Performance Wrench Gym in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Over time, this will make you tighter, or even invite injury. At some point, you will ask your weaker side to do something that they cannot do. So break everything in half with this six-step circuit Herrera arranged. If your goal is to take advantage of the gym, then you will appreciate how this exercise manifests in areas where strength is lagging behind. But, instead, if you have to work in your favorite activities (climbing, kayaking, swimming, biking, etc.), unilateral training will help you move faster. Think about it: If you are stuck in a road bike, swimming laps, or a rowing machine, you will not realize that one side is mostly working. These measures will face some kind of weakness.
Try your favorite lifting warmup – bodyweight squats and the touch, the pull and the shoulders. Then do 2 to 4 sets of exercises, 8 to 12 reps per set (excluding single leg). Start with the usual light weight for the first time, and keep the weight constant on both sides.
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