Unilateral exercises are important because we all generally have one arm and one leg that is more dominant ans stronger than the other. Close your eyes and let yourself fall forward. The leg that comes up first to break your fall is your dominant leg. These limbs are often be up to 15% stronger than their counterpart.
One side can compensate for some weakness in the other, but any great imbalances can predispose an athlete for injury. You can lower your risk of injury immensely by adding some unilateral movements into your training, even if its only once or twice a week.
Unilateral Exercises for Crossfitters
1. Bulgarian Split Squats
This exercise can build tons of strength and even flexibility in the hip flexors and quads without stressing the lower back too much. By placing the back foot on a bench, we actively stretch the hip flexors and quads one leg at a time. You can also load up this exercises quite a bit to improve overall lower-body strength and muscle growth.
Use a front rack position or dumbbells on each side, you will feel the difference.
- Line up in front of a bench and consider placing an Ab Mat or some other type of padding on the floor to protect the knee in the bottom range of motion.
- Stand on top of the platform, reach back and place the top of the foot on the top of the bench. The majority of the weight should be kept over the front foot (around 80%), with the additional weight on the rear foot (around 20%).
- While keeping the torso mostly upright, descend under control until your knee lightly touches the pad.
- At this point, drive through the heel of the front foot, back to the starting position. Keep a neutral head, pelvis, and spine throughout the range of motion.
- Don’t allow the knee to drift too far in front of the toes or shift from side to side. If you’re prone to knee aches and pains, sit back more and maintain a vertical shin throughout the movement.