Saturday, July 4, 2009

Independence Day Fitness

Happy Independence Day! On this day I always remember that the USA was once a distant group of frontier colonies of the most powerful nation on the planet, and we fought a war to win our independence and found a new nation.

This inspires a workout tip(of course.) A simple way to increase the functional aspect(useful in life, not just the gym) of an exercise is to do it with just one arm or leg at a time instead of both. In technical terms, unilateral instead of bilateral. For instance, instead of doing a barbell curl using both arms, do dumbell curls, one side at a time. Try doing a cable row with just one hand. Suddenly all sorts of muscles get involved keeping you balanced and the weight aligned. It is the same idea as my recommendation Don't Sit Down. Particularly the obliques and other twisting/anti-twisting core muscles will get engaged.

One more benefit is that it is harder to "cheat," or at least more obvious, by having the stronger side do more work than the weaker. Symmetry and balance are important exercise and bodywork goals.

It's OK to do some bilateral exercises, but I suggest predominantly unilateral exercise for increasing functional fitness.

So start enjoying your independence, one arm and leg at a time.

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