Strength and Conditioning – Unilateral Strength WOD

unilateralToday I will be outlining one of many 100% unilateral workouts I have been performing recently.  I have decided to do a little bit of a focus on unilateral exercises over the next number of weeks for a few reasons:

Why a Unilateral Focus?

1.) Recently I have been dealing with a minor knee tweak that I have linked to rotational range of motion limitations in my right ankle.  Ultimately the ROM limitation has lead to a minor injury to my politeus…I think.  My fix for the moment, while I work on ankle ROM, is a slight outward turn of my feet when squatting, as opposed to totally straight.  Another reason I think it was a rotational popliteus issue is because single leg work did not aggravate the injury and has seemed to help with recovery.

2.) I was watching some guys doing one handed push-ups, and bust out 5 easy on each hand.  I thought this looked badass and decided I wanted to be able to do one handed push-ups with ease.  I also have seen some YouTube videos of  individuals rocking one handed chin-ups.  This is a very impressive feat of strength and even more badass than one handed push-ups.  So, I decided I wanted to be badass too!

3.) I definitely have a unilateral imbalance in muscle size and strength in my lower body, and at least a unilateral imbalance in strength in my upper body.  Obviously this is not ideal, and may even mean that I am over utilizing one side of my body during bilateral exercises.

So there you have my reasons.  Previously I was a bit hesitant to move to unilateral work only because I would be significantly lowering the weight used during each exercise, and while this shouldn’t make a difference in strength outcome, since we are cutting the limb usage in half, and still using the same energy system (if you do it right), I would still just wonder if it would give similar results.  So, I had settled for using body weight only unilateral exercises during my warm-ups, and that was restricted to lower body work only.  However, with my recent knee injury and my desire to be a unilateral bad ass, I decided to go strictly unilateral for a little while.  Although, I may throw in one heavy set here and there of a bilateral exercise just so I don’t loose the feel for it.  No doubt I will not continue to be strictly unilateral moving forward, I will most definitely go back to my bilateral work, but feel that I will mix it up a bit more moving forward.

Warm Up

1×10 reverse hip opener lunges (each leg)

1×10 one leg floor touch to leg swing

1×10 side lunges (each leg)

1×10 full range squats

1×6 one leg squats

1×5 stability ball squat

1×7 3 way arm swings

1×7 downward dog into cobra push-up

Some animal crawls

Some non-fatiguing planche and handstand practice

Unilateral WOD

3×5 one leg front squat @ 90lbs

This is with very strict neutral spine and stable level hip position.  You need to be very strict with this!  I do not have the flexibility to keep my spine neutral and my leg straight out in front of me.  I just keep my non-working leg bent and go low enough to touch my knee to the ground.  This is about my max depth before my heel starts to lift up.  If your heel lifts up, stop at that depth.  If you loose neutral spine, stop at the depth just before that point.

3×5 side step ups @ 2x50lbs dumbbell

This is very strict form, again with neutral spine and even hip position.  Also, this is to be done with as little assistance from the non-working leg as possible.  Therefore, do not push off the ground with the opposite leg, the movement is initiated with the leg actually doing the step up.

Super Set: 3×3 one handed push-ups + 3×3 one handed negative chin-ups (sufficient rest between sets to perform noted amount of reps)

1×5 one handed wrist grab chin-up (each arm)

This is done my holding the bar with one hand, and your wrist with the other hand.  As you get stronger, use less and less of a grip on your wrist to progress

 3×5 one arm supine pull up (on smith machine)


The Barefoot Golfer

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