Although the human body is symmetrical in design, there are slight differences between front and back. If we don’t pay attention to these small differences, it can be difficult to notice them. We often train our clients with bilateral exercises. This requires clients to pull/push with both their arms and/or both their legs simultaneously. This approach is fine if it is properly programmed. Asymmetrical training can be fun and very effective for your clients. This is what asymmetrical training can do for clients.
Although loading one side of your body is the most common and effective type of training, this is not the only option. There are many other ways to create an asymmetry. Clients can choose to use different weights or a split stance (one foot in front of another) or do exercises unilaterally or bilaterally. A weight training program may also use combinations of these techniques.
Daily Living Activities and Sport
The way we live our lives and perform daily activities is largely asymmetrical. Walking is an example of this. To propel the body forward, one leg is in front of the other. The arms move in an opposing pattern. Running is similar. One leg pushes and the other lands on solid ground. The pattern continues. Asymmetrical movements include opening doors, carrying children, using a computer mouse and walking up and down stairs. Many sporting activities can be described as asymmetrical because they involve a combination or alternating coordinated movements. ).
As you would expect, one side tends to be stronger and more powerful than the other in most activities (casual and sports-related). Asymmetrical training is a way to help clients overcome weaknesses or compensate by focusing on one movement and isolating one over the other. The greatest benefit to incorporating asymmetrical coaching into your clients’ programs are the improved functional movement patterns that make daily life easier, more enjoyable, and less difficult. These benefits can be transferred to clients’ everyday tasks. Asymmetrical methods are used to achieve functional symmetry.
Balance and core strength
Asymmetrical training, which includes unilateral loading, altered foot position, unilateral exercises and using two weights, engages the body in a different manner than symmetrical training. To maintain balance, the body must engage its core. To avoid momentum and falling over, clients must be more conscious of their core muscles, especially when lifting heavy weights overhead. A balanced program or set exercises that are consistent and asymmetrical will help clients improve their core strength and balance. You should note that clients with extreme balance issues should first focus on exercises that will improve this aspect, before you introduce resistance.
We all know that one side is always dominant. Bilateral exercises, such as those done when using weight machines, can cause one side to “take control” of the movement. Asymmetrical training can help your clients strengthen their non-dominant side, while allowing them to train the dominant side. This will create symmetrical strength. Instead of having your clients do a bench press, have them perform a unilateral dumbbell press to gauge differences in strength from left to right.
Improve Body Awareness
The ability to train symmetrically or bilaterally may “mute”, the client’s body awareness in order for them to perform the proper movement. Each side is working together, and not being forced to do half the movement. A client who focuses on one side of their body to create movement (loaded or unloaded), will experience a different kind of mind-body connection.
Asymmetrical training requires greater concentration, awareness, balance, and core muscles recruitment. Because one side of the exercise is the focus, clients can use the full range of motion to complete it. Clients may notice differences in their individual joint mobility by doing this. These differences can be used to help clients develop a tailored and more robust flexibility program that addresses their mobility concerns.
Start by infusing your client’s regular workout with a few asymmetrical exercises that target both the upper and lower body muscles. You don’t have to give up on the idea of training symmetrically or bilaterally – but incorporating elements that are asymmetrical into your clients’ existing or future programs will provide a boost in client performance and help them achieve a level of progress that is not possible.