Everyone wants to get stronger — that’s why we go to the gym to lift weights. But chances are, most of your exercises target both arms or both legs at the same time like a squat, deadlift, or pushup. Yet by using exercises that target each arm and leg separately — called “unilateral training” — you can unlock tremendous improvements for your fitness and body.

Three benefits of unilateral training: improves balance and stability, preserves symmetry and takes pressure off your body.

When you only use one leg or one arm, you instantly make your exercise more challenging because there’s less stability. Now your muscles have to work harder to keep your body still! Check out some of our favorite exercises for strength and stability with NAC personal trainer, Paul Cullura.

1. Reverse Lunges 

Start with your feet hip-width apart. Take a long step back — long enough so your knees make two 90-degree angles at the bottom — then return to start with your forward leg.

2. Lateral Squat

Start with a very wide stance and your feet pointed slightly out. Sit back into one hip and push that knee out.

3. Step Ups

Place one foot on a box or bench. Pull all your weight on that foot and drive yourself up by pushing through your heel. Avoid pushing off with your bottom leg.

4. Single-Leg Deadlift 

With dumbbells in your hands, slowly bend forward and pull one leg behind. Once the weights are below your knees, drive back up and squeeze with your glutes.

Remember not to twist your hips to the side — keep them square and face forward.

5. Dumbbell Row

Facing parallel to a bench, place your right hand and right knee on the bench, getting your torso parallel to the ground. Grab a dumbbell with your left hand, squeeze your shoulder blades and row. Or…try Paul’s way in the photo above!

6. TRX Single-Arm Row

Take one TRX strap from underneath with your feet closer to the anchor point. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and pull yourself up while keeping your body straight like a plank. Don’t let your body twist.

7. Single-Arm Overhead Press

Hold a dumbbell by your shoulder and drive the weight directly overhead.

8. Single-Arm Bench Press

Lie on a flat bench with your feet firmly planted into the ground and your shoulder blades squeezed together. Hold on a dumbbell on one side with your wrist straight and press above.

The Newtown Athletic Club’s Personal Training Program is designed to help clients see results through working with a personal trainer on a continual basis for a designated number of sessions per month, for at least three months. To learn about how you can reach your fitness goals with Paul Cullura or our other certified personal trainers, please fill out the form below.

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