If you're looking to prevent injury, you've got to start by correcting imbalances. That doesn't mean doing a bunch of stretching, just so you can touch your toes. What that means is that you need to focus on correcting imbalances in muscles and movements between both sides of your body [Non-Dominant Side Training]. It means restoring proper mobility to your joints, and activating the correct muscles so that they carry the load they were meant to carry.


Some moves that are essential to use if you want to correct imbalances are unilateral exercises. These are moves that make each side work independently so that your dominant side can't take over and compensate. Not only do these moves isolate each side and make them work independently, but these exercises also address commonly weak and inactive muscles. Because most of us sit or hunch often during the day, our “glutes" and the “big" muscles in our back don't engage when they should. These under active muscles cause imbalances that could lead to injury. Below are 5 Unilateral Exercises you should include in your workout routine to correct your imbalances from here on out:


Single Leg Hip Thruster - If you're looking to prevent injury, you need to include “glute" activation exercises. If you can make that a unilateral exercise, that's even better as it will make sure that both “glutes" are activated and working correctly. By including the Single Leg Hip Thruster, you will be able to activate your “glutes," correct imbalances, and even open up your hips.


To do the Single Leg Hip Thruster, sit on the ground and place your upper back on the bench, and your feet flat on the ground. Lift one leg up off the ground and then bridge up. Drive through your heel and your back on the bench to lift your hips up.


Squeeze your "glutes" and fully extend your hips. Pause for a second and then lower back down. Repeat on the same side, bridging back up. Make sure to engage your "glutes" at the top, and not hyperextend your lower back simply to try to bridge up higher.



Single-Arm Anti-Rotational Suspension Trainer Row - The Single-Arm Anti-Rotational Suspension Trainer Row is a great exercise to help you correct imbalances by strengthening your back. All too often the big muscles in our back don't engage and work correctly, which is why we end up with shoulder and neck pain. Plus, this move will help you build core stability to further help prevent injury. Because this is another unilateral movement, both sides will have to work independently, which will prevent your dominant side from taking over.



To do this exercise, place one hand across your chest and hold the suspension trainer in the other hand. Walk your feet forward to the appropriate incline, and set your body up in a nice straight line, squeezing your quads, “glutes" and core. Then, driving your elbow down and back, row your chest up to the handle. Feel your back working to pull you up and do not shrug your shoulder as you row. You should move as if both arms are pulling, instead of letting the non-rowing side rotate open toward the ground. Lower back down, but keep your back engaged, even at the bottom of the row. Then repeat on the same side.



Stability Press - If you want a stronger core, you need to include the Stability Press. It is another great exercise that will isolate each side, and strengthen your back, obliques, “glutes," shoulders and quads.


To do the Stability Press, you can use a resistance band or cable. Hold the handle in both hands, and turn so that you are sideways to the anchor point. Step away from the anchor point so that there is tension in the band. Standing with your feet about hip-width apart, bring your hands into the center of your chest, and squeeze your “glutes" while you brace your abs. Stand up nice and tall with your chest pressed out, then slowly press the band straight out from the center of your chest until your arms are fully straight. It should be a struggle to straighten your arms out slowly without rotating back toward the anchor point. Your core should have to work to stabilize and press straight out from your chest. Maintain a nice tall posture, and make sure you also don't lean away as you press. Slowly bring your arms back in and then repeat. Do not rush the press or you will prevent your core from working as hard to stabilize.



Plank with Reach Back and Out - The Plank with Reach Back and Out is a great core and shoulder stability exercise that also works on hip extension and “glute" activation. If you want to correct imbalances, build core strength and prevent injury, this is a must-do move. This unilateral exercise also isolates each shoulder independently to help build shoulder stability, and also make your core work harder to prevent rotation.


To do the Plank with Reach Back and Out, set up in a high plank position from your hands and toes with your feet about shoulder-width apart. Then from the high plank position, push your butt up in the air as you reach one hand back and across toward the opposite ankle. After you reach back, then come back forward into the high plank position, and, as you extend your hips, reach out toward the wall in front of you. Do not let your hips sag as you reach out in front. Keep your core tight to protect your lower back from engaging. Then repeat, reaching back and across with the same hand.



Step Down - The Step Down is a great variation of the Step Up that actually isolates each leg and forces each “glute" and leg to truly work independently. Too often with the Step Up we compensate and push off the foot on the ground. With the Step Down variation, you can't use your other foot to assist. To do the Step Down, start standing on a bench near the edge so that you can step off of it to the side with one foot. Then, slowly hinge forward sitting your butt back as you drop the foot off the box down toward the ground. Keep your back flat as you sit your butt back, and slowly lower down as if you're stepping off the box. Only lower down as far as you can control, however. If you can, try to touch your toe to the ground, but make sure you do not push off that foot to move back up to standing. Sink as low as you can, then drive through the foot on the box to come right back up to standing.


Do not rock forward as you come back up to standing. Really use your “glute" and drive through your heel. Stand back up nice and tall, and squeeze your “glute" before lowering back down.




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About the Author: Cori Lefkowith is the owner of Redefining Strength, a functional fitness training facility in Costa Mesa focused on educating clients and trainers on unique training methods to help them move and feel better. Cori started Redefining Strength to help empower people through diet and exercise to lead healthier, happier lives. Follow Cori and Redefining Strength on Facebook for workouts, exercises and daily fitness tips.


Social Links:


Website: http://redefiningstrength.com/

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YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/redefiningstrengthOC

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