Unilateral strength training involves the use of one limb at a time and for this dumbbells, kettlebells and bodyweight movements are the primary implements. I have found out that it is one thing to do a barbell lift but it is an entirely different proposition to do the same lift with dumbells. If you don’t train much with dumbells, expect to have your strength imbalances and weaknesses exposed as I have found out, much to my dismay. Glaring weaknesses. I would benefit greatly by doing an entire cycle of just doing unilateral training. Mixing in DB cleans, snatches, push presses, bench presses, in short, most of the things I do with a barbell. for good measure, adding in some plyometric and bodyweight exercises would increase the “fun factor”.
One neurological benefit of dumbell training is that it takes twice as long to do a set than with a bar. The metabolic cost is twice as much, thus more calories are burned. More importantly there is a higher force output because more muscles have to be recruited to stabilize the weight.
Some of the other benefits include:
- Strengthening of postural support muscles.
- Improves bilateral strength.
- Improves balance movement coordination.
- Increased focus on the movement and the muscles.
- Increased neural response, which will enhance your bar lifts.
- Moderate contralateral strength gains. If one limb is injured working the other has a cross-ever effect, according to some studies.
And there is never a line to use dumbbells.