T Nation

Unilateral Work?


#1

Problem: Using one side of the body predominantly for everything. On squats, I always lean to the left, which stresses my right...gluteus medius? or somewhere thereabouts and my right spinal erectors. I think this might be why I've been pulling my right muscle above the butt and just recently pulled a spinal erector (that along with not stopping when the weight got too heavy... ._. ) and just generally injuring the right side of the body often and only. On bench, one side is always faster up. One deadlifts, one side is always lower. It's always the left side that is weaker in everything.

Solutions? I thought about incorporating one legged work, some dumbbells for bench. Does anyone do activation work before to get the lagging side ready to work?

Thanks for any suggestions, this thing is really bugging me and hindering my progress.


#2

I actually had your problem with squats and I accidentally fixed it recently: change of stance. I went to a wide "power lifting" (in quotes because I am far from a powerlifter) stance. I easily set a new PR today simply by adjusting my stance and form. It might work for you.


#3

I've been switching to high bar. Wouldn't that be uncomfortable/impractical for high bar? I always keep my feet around shoulder width and if I go much further with HBBS knees start caving.


#4

Im no squat expert, but for whatever reason the wide stance helps me go deep without rounding my lower back or leaning forward. I lifted 305 yesterday for the first time in two years. By contrast, when I lifted with my old form (feet shoulder-ish width apart) I had trouble getting 255. The problem wasnt my legs, it was my torso being total shit.

I simply found it was easier to brace my core and I could execute the motion swiftly and efficiently. When you bench, do you squeeze your lats? I didnt used to do that until I met a competitive lifter in my gym, who instructed me to lock my lats to maintain a firm base. Let me tell you, it makes a huge difference.


#5

Unilateral work could help. At the very least it will show you whether there is indeed a significant strength discrepancy between your right and left sides.

Whether switching to a low bar wide stance squat or staying with a high bar shoulder width/medium stance would make sense wil depend on your goals and leverages/anthropometrics. Generally high bar medium stance will allow greater ROM, recruit the lower body in a more balanced way, and be a better choice for a bodybuilder.

Low bar wide stance will tend to minimize the ROM (which is what Powerlifters want) thus often providing maximum weight to be moved from point A to point B, primarily target the Posterior chain (Glutes and hamstrings), and be a better choice for Powerlifters/ those who care primarily about their numbers rather than how the exercise is building their body, or those with very long legs and a short torso.


#6

Yeah, I've specific reasons for switching over to HBBS (better ROM, no worries about hitting depth, better overall development, more transferable into daily life, less stress on my lower back, more comfortable bar placement). Thanks for the input :smiley:

But do you have any advice about how to fix improper movement patterns (not sure about vocabulary) since that is the area of concern in every exercise?


#7

Yes, but "improper movement patterns" is a very broad term/subject.

Every individual movement pattern has specific muscular activation patterns which make up proper form. So, I can't really give you any "global"/generalized advice on how to fix all movement patterns other than to simply practice and try to develop proper form (which may involve lowering the weight on the bar for the time being until this is achieved and then slowly increasing the weight as you are able to).

In the case of the squat, you leaning towards one side could mean:
-one leg is significantly stronger than the other and you are thus shifting the weight more to that side to allow you to lift more weight
-one leg is shorter than the other one and you need some orthotics to even out your hips/leg lengths
-your core is weak and is not capable of properly stabilizing your spine and hips and thus you are collapsing towards one side
-you have some sort of neural impairment happening on your left side (like a pinched nerve or bulging disk) that you are unaware of and this is causing your left side to lag behind

Since the leg strength discrepancy and core strength dificiency are the two likely options (along with going too heavy for your current strength levels) that are most easily remedied and under your control I would try working on those first.

A couple good exercise option would be:
Bulgarian Split Squats to strengthen each leg individually
and
Suitcase Deadlifts to teach your body to stabilize the hips, spine and shoulders while utilizing the legs

There are other options as well, those are just 2 good ones off the top of my head. Hope this helps.


#8

Alright, sounds good. Thanks for the advice, definitely better than floundering about on my own!