Men's Health (South Africa) - - CONTENTS -

3 full-body work­outs to get you ripped and ready for sum­mer.

Jay T. Mary­niak has got used to the stares. They come when­ever he does what looks like a plea for In­sta­gram at­ten­tion, grab­bing a loaded bar­bell, ly­ing on the floor, then stand­ing and hoist­ing the bar­bell over­head with one arm. “It doesn’t bug me,” he says.

That’s be­cause Mary­niak (pic­tured), a cer­ti­fied trainer and strength and con­di­tion­ing coach, knows what he’s do­ing. He’s ven­tur­ing into the world of uni­lat­eral train­ing.

Uni­lat­eral ex­er­cises en­gage pri­mar­ily one side of your body to move re­sis­tance. That’s a change-up from clas­sics such as push-ups, dead­lifts, and mil­i­tary presses.

Those moves make you use your body sym­met­ri­cally, mus­cles on both the left and right sides hold­ing sim­i­lar re­spon­si­bil­i­ties.

Uni­lat­eral-train­ing con­cepts have been around since the late 1800s. Cir­cus strong­men such as Eu­gen Sandow per­formed the bent press, which had you lift a heavy weight to your right shoul­der, bend to the left, and straighten your right arm with the weight over­head. It chal­lenged more than sheer strength, de­mand­ing shoul­der flex­i­bil­ity and sta­bil­ity, along with core strength. But that didn’t fil­ter into main­stream work­outs, in which body­build­ing moves have long ruled. In most gyms, you’ll see guys do­ing curls and bench presses, moves that don’t truly chal­lenge your core – or mimic how your body moves in real life.

When you lift a weight with just one side of your body, as you might when you hold your five-year-old in one arm, the ab­dom­i­nal and oblique mus­cles on your “non-work­ing” side work to sta­bilise your torso. The same thing hap­pens dur­ing uni­lat­eral moves such as the ex­er­cise that leads peo­ple to stare at Mary­niak: a bar­bell Turk­ish get-up. It’s com­pa­ra­ble to a dumb­bell curl with the weight only in your right arm (a sim­ple ex­am­ple of a uni­lat­eral move). “We’re pre­par­ing our bod­ies for the un­planned events that take place in our daily lives,” he says. “And we’re build­ing joint strength that bul­let­proofs the body.”

That last part is why Mary­niak fell in love with uni­lat­eral work three years ago. When he turned 30, he found him­self bat­tling mi­nor in­juries, many born from con­stantly lift­ing heavy. Uni­lat­eral moves chal­lenged his sta­bil­is­ing mus­cles so much that he of­ten lifted lighter loads.

Most weighted moves, from Cross­Fit ex­er­cises such as the snatch to body­build­ing main­stays like the bench press, can be done uni­lat­er­ally. The more uni­lat­eral work you do, says coach and trainer Jeff Cava­liere, the more ath­letic you’ll be­come. Most ath­letic ac­tions, such as a sprint, don’t let your limbs op­er­ate sym­met­ri­cally. Your body is “cross-wired”, says Cava­liere, left arm and right leg mov­ing to­gether. Train­ing limbs in­di­vid­u­ally hones those cross-wired me­chan­ics. Mas­ter those, and you’ll move bet­ter on the rugby or soc­cer field – and maybe draw more at­ten­tion at the gym, too.

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