Accelerate your gains with lopsided lifting.
Balance is typically a good thing – especially where budgets and tightropes are concerned. But when it comes to building muscle, the best approach is often one-sided, says strength and conditioning specialist Tony Gentilcore. “Unilateral” exercises, which work each side of the body independently, kick your stabilising system into action, improving coordination, chiseling your core, and – counter-intuitively – correcting muscle imbalances. The result: greater total-body power and less time on the disabled list.
Do This: Perform these exercises as a circuit, moving from one to the next without rest. For each exercise, do 16 total reps (eight on each side). Rest for one minute after you’ve completed the entire circuit. Repeat four more times or until your 15 minutes are up.
1/Suitcase Dead Lift – Using a neutral grip, hold a dumbbell in your right hand at arm’s length next to your thigh (as if you’re holding a suitcase). Stand with your feet hip-width apart and your knees slightly bent. Keeping your chest up, push your hips back and lower your body until the dumbbell is at mid-shin level. Pause, and then return to the starting position. “Don’t touch the dumbbell to the floor,” says Gentilcore. But do keep it close to your side throughout the move.
2/Dumbbell Single-Arm Overhead Press – Stand holding a dumbbell next to your right shoulder, with your left arm hanging by your side. Press the weight overhead until your arm is straight, and then slowly lower the dumbbell back to the starting position. “Proper form is key,” says Gentilcore. “Squeeze your glutes to prevent your lower back from hyperextending.”
3/Dumbbell Offset Reverse Lunge – Hold a dumbbell in your right hand next to your side. Step back with your right foot and slowly lower your body until your front knee is bent 90 degrees. Pause, and then push back up to the starting position. “Injuries occur when knee stability breaks down,” Gentilcore says. “If you notice one or both knees wobbling, use a lighter weight and focus on keeping your front knee in line with your toes.”
4/Dumbbell Single-Arm Bench Press – Lie face up on a bench holding a dumbbell straight over your chest, palm facing in. Without changing the angle of your hand, lower the dumbbell to the side of your chest. Pause, and then press it back up to the starting position. “Since the weight is offset, your opposite side will want to lift off the bench,” says Gentilcore. “Brace your core, as if you’re about to take a punch, in order to keep your back in place.”
5/Neutral-Grip Dumbbell Single-Arm Row – With a dumbbell in your right hand, bend at your hips and knees and lower your torso until it’s nearly parallel to the floor; let the weight hang at arm’s length. Now pull the dumbbell to your torso, keeping your elbow tucked close to your side. Return to the starting position. “Grip the weight as tightly as possible,” says Gentilcore. “That will activate your rotator cuff, which assists in the movement.”
The Best Exercise Your Not Doing
Growing strong is simple: the more muscles you work, the more muscle you build. “The Turkish get-up has multiple segments that hit your entire body,” says trainer David Jack. Use it to boost mobility, build lean mass, and torch kilojoules. Lie with your left leg bent, right arm by your side, and a dumbbell or kettlebell in your left hand above your chest. Now roll onto your right side, prop up on your right forearm, and push yourself into a half kneel by threading your right leg behind your left. Stand up to complete the move. Reverse it to return to the starting position. Do three to five reps, switch sides, and repeat.