5 Unilateral Exercises Every Mom Should Do
If you enjoyed learning how to train using your own Bodyweight, and want to maximize your workouts then unilateral training is a great option! Training one limb at a time (unilateral training) comes with a host of benefits to both moms and non moms alike.
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I’ve no doubt that as a mama, your gym time is precious. Which means, you need your workouts to be quick and effective (who has hours a day for scheduled fitness?!). And while I am a sucker for big exercises that hit a variety of muscle groups, there’s something to be said for smaller movements too.
Unilateral training will not only help your gym performance but it’s practical for day to day activities too. Training one limb at a time helps you:
Improve Your Core
Single limb work requires a lot of stability (exercise dependent of course). And this demand for stability means that your core musculature (your entire core not just your abs!) needs to step ups it’s game and help.
The purpose of your core muscles are to resist movement- basically, to keep you from falling over. Training this resistance with exercises like anti-extension, anti-rotation, anti-lateral flexion etc makes your core stronger.
If you’re training unilaterally, most exercises will challenge your ability to be upright, thus directly hitting your core. Unilateral training= stronger core.
Correct Muscle Imbalances
While I love training bi-lateral movements like the squat, it’s really easy for one side of the body to take over for another.
This is even more prominent in upper body exercises. One side of the body normally can’t lift or perform as well as the other, but it gets away without improving because the other side takes over.
With unilateral training, this doesn’t happen (as much). Training one side at a time forces your body to become more balanced and well rounded.
If your correcting muscle imbalances, improving your core muscles and generally getting stronger, it only makes sense that your injury risk will be less!
Unilateral training makes you stronger and more capable. When your body is performing optimally your risk of injury decreases because you’re using proper movements and proper muscles.
If you’re looking to become stronger & prevent injuries you should add unilateral exercises to your workout routines
Moms especially can reap the rewards of unilateral training!
As moms, we’re a bit imbalanced in the muscle department. This comes from carting around a babe all day in the same arm. Naturally, your body adapts leaving one side stronger than the other.
We also tend to pick up bad postural habits. Since training each limb individually forces your core to work overtime, these habits are often improved. Since the core muscles- specifically the glutes- are crucial in preventing back pain (check out why you may have back pain here).
Unilateral training helps recruit the core muscles more than bilateral training as your body has to resist falling over. The ability to keep yourself upright, stable & balanced is your core functioning.
By now I hope I’ve convinced you to add in some unilateral work to your programs!
Here are Five Unilateral Exercises You Should Be Doing As A Mom
Exercise #1 Single Leg Glute Bridge
Hitting glutes (and training all posterior muscles) are by far one of the best muscles for any mama. Strong glutes come with an insane amount of benefits (read why you should train glutes here) and obviously, strong glutes look awesome!
This single leg variation is perfect to get your bum firing. Make sure you lead with the glute though and not your low back
If you’re really serious about improving your glutes, you can check out a few of my favorite exercises here). I’d also recommend purchasing a green mini band. Because for a couple of bucks there’s so much you can do!
This is actually one of my favorite bundles because it contains a few mini bands and the most one ever- a red strength band! Here’s a great upper body workout you can rock with that one.
Exercise #2 Single Leg Squat To Marker
How often are we standing up/sitting down while trying to balance something? This exercise is amazing for hitting not just your legs but your entire body in one of the most primal movements: the squat.
This single leg variation requires a ton of stability. Many people avoid it for fear that they will be unable to stabilize their knees (fix that problem here). But the trick isn’t avoiding it, it’s both strengthening the glutes as well as making use of a marker (bench).
The better you get, the lower the bench or marker can go. Or, begin by using assistance like TRX straps so you have complete control of the resistance placed on the leg.
Exercise #3 Unilateral Hamstring Curl
Hamstrings are both a knee flexor and a hip extender- so they’re pretty important. On top of their functions, hamstrings are prone to injury.
Keep the back of your legs strong and not only will your posture improve but your chance of injury will decrease.
This unilateral exercise isn’t easy, but it is effective!
Exercise #4 Single Arm Shoulder Press
As a mama, our shoulders get a workout each and every day! The truth is, just carrying your babes is a unilateral workout 😛
Chances are, you carry your babes on one side more often than the other. This is fine, except that is does create a bit of an imbalance.
Make sure both of your shoulders are strong by performing this single arm press.
This exercise helps keep your shoulders strong while also requiring a lot of stability to keep the body upright and in good posture.
Exercise #5 Single Arm Farmers Carry
I freaking adore farmers carries. There’s so many ways to do them and they are easily one of the most functional, effective core exercises I know of.
You actually do farmers carries all the time (say what!?).. when you carry your babes in a car seat! Only chances are, you do this by leaning into your body versus standing upright.
To make this task easier.. train it! Strengthen the muscles to make the day to day task easier. And training them individually will keep you more balanced.
Don’t forget to pin these exercises!
Placing unilateral exercises into your training program is not only smart but crucial. Training unilaterally helps keep you balanced, prevent injuries and make day to day tasks easier. Plus, as mamas they help improve your strength.. and we can all benefit from that!