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Our bodies are naturally unbalanced. Think about it: You use either your right or left hand to write. You carry your purse, backpack, or duffle on one shoulder versus the other.  Even the way we walk is unbalanced by default because of our anatomy.  We have organs on different sides of the body and our limbs are never the same length. Therefore, it’s important that your workouts address the imbalances in your body.

To correct any imbalances in your body, you should add more unilateral, or asymmetrical, exercises to your program.  Unilateral exercises mean that one side of your body is working, while the other is essentially at rest. Lunges and single-leg deadlifts are good examples of unilateral exercises. Exercises like barbell back squats and sumo barbell deadlifts are symmetrical exercises, meaning both sides of your body work in tandem to perform the movement. Many machine-based exercises, like the leg press or hamstring curl, are also symmetrical exercises, utilizing both the muscles on the right and left side of your body together. It’s easier to lift heavy weight when both sides of your body are working together because you’re stronger when you have more muscles firing. But when you work both sides equally, you’re unfortunately not addressing imbalances between the left and right.

If you’re questioning or aren’t sure about imbalances in your body, they will be quickly brought to light by trying these exercises below. If the right arm feels weaker than the left when you perform single arm bicep curls or you struggle doing lunges on the left leg versus the right, chances are you’re experiencing some muscle imbalance. If this is the case, be sure you cater your routine to the weaker side of the body by not going heavier or completing more reps on your stronger side, which may only exacerbate your imbalance issue.

You can make a bilateral exercise, like the squat or deadlift, asymmetrical by offsetting the weight, meaning that you’ll weight just one side of your body so said side is the only one working. For example, with a squat, try holding a kettlebell or dumbbell in just one hand as opposed to both. You can hold it up by your shoulder or down by your waist. For the deadlift, instead of using two kettlebells or dumbbells, try lifting just one of the respective weights with only one hand. By offsetting the weight, you work one side of the body and one side of your core more than the other. There’s also more carryover to real life. How often have you had to walk around the airport pulling a heavy suitcase in one hand, or lug around a bag of groceries?

An added bonus of unilateral exercises? Stability work! When you lunge on one leg, you have to activate your core in order to stay upright. It adds another layer of complexity to the exercise and activates even more muscles. As you age, stability exercises become more important to avoid falls and other injuries.

At TS Fitness we love to use gliders when starting with clients so they can focus on using the right muscles while getting used to a regressed stability factor. This means that since the back foot is in contact with a surface, it will provide assistance, but still challenge stability.  Note: You must use a glider on either turf or a smooth surface.  You can also use a hand towel on a smooth surface such as a wooden or marble floor.

Interested in working to even out an imbalance in your body? Try these asymmetrical exercises to help make your body and muscles more balanced, so you’re able to train more symmetrically in the future.

Asymmetrical Exercises To Help Offset Muscle Imbalances


Offset Goblet Squat

  1. Stand with feet shoulder width apart, toes turned out 5 to 10 degrees.

  2. Begin holding one kettlebell in “racked” position in only one hand with your wrist directly above your elbow and your elbow close to your body. Make sure the kettlebell resting on outside of the bicep.

  3. Perform squat, making sure to keep your shins vertical to your knees, dropping your thighs parallel to ground and not allowing knees to track past the ankles.

  4. Pushing through the heels, drive your hips back up to a standing position.

  5. Perform 8-10 reps and then repeat on the other side.


    Reverse Lunge with a Glider

    1. Begin in a standing position with your feet side by side and the glider directly behind your right foot. Place the front of your right foot in the middle of the glider.

    1. Hold the kettlebell in a goblet position with the bell down and hands around the handle with your elbows directly under your elbows.  

    2. Slowly bend the left knee dropping your hips straight down as the right knee bends and drops down and back. Stop when both knees have reached 90 degrees.

    3. Your front foot should be directly below your front knee and your back knee below your back hip.

    4. Drive both feet into the ground contracting your glutes and quads and return to the starting position.

    5. Perform 10-12 reps and repeat on the other leg.

      Kettlebell Windmill

      1. Stand with your feet inside of shoulder width. If you are too wide it will prevent you from correctly performing the windmill.

      2. Your feet should be angled at roughly 45 degrees away from the arm holding the kettlebell overhead.

      3. Angle your feet by turning on the heel or ball of your foot, respectively. Don’t shuffle around. This starting stance can be adjusted to fit your individual needs.

      4. Begin by shifting the hip that is under the kettlebell back at a 45-degree angle to get the leg vertical and as long as possible while the front leg is soft with a slightly bent knee. The rear heel should not rise. The majority of your weight should be on the back leg the whole time.

      5. The upper body should extend in a straight line and should fall into that 45-degree angle. The t-spine rotates so the arm holding the kettlebell is vertical.

      6. Drop your free arm down toward the ground, sliding it down the inside of the front leg. How deeply you go into the windmill position will be determined by your “mobility ability”. Build the depth over several repetitions and practice of the drill.

      7. You should not laterally flex the spine or change the positions to go deeper. Perform 10 reps on one side and then repeat on the other side.


      Single Leg Valside Deadlift

      1. Begin in a standing position with your feet side by side and the glider directly behind your right foot.  Place the front of your right foot in the middle of the glider.

      2. Hold the Kettlebell with the right arm directly at your side with your palm facing in.  

      3. Slowly bend at your hips driving them back and keeping the back leg relatively straight.  

      4. Your left ankle should be under your left knee and your right hip should be extended. Stop before you back starts to round or your hips are at 90 degrees relative to your torso.

      5. Drive both feet into the ground contracting your glutes and hamstrings and return to the starting position.

      6. Perform 10-12 reps and repeat on the other leg.

      Once each exercise can be done with good form then you can progress in weight, sets, reps, or all three.

      To get more inspiration from Noam, follow him on Instagram: @tsfitnessnyc 

      All gifs courtesy of @erikvphoto

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