How Can I Make My Non-dominant Side Stronger? 4 Exercises

Medically Reviewed on 3/17/2022
How Can I Make My Non-dominant Side Stronger
Having a non-dominant side can lead to imbalances in strength and coordination. Here is how to make your non-dominant side stronger with a few strategic exercises

Most people have a dominant side, or one side of the body that they use more than the other. But one of the downsides to this is an imbalance in strength and coordination that could be limiting your functional capacity. Fortunately, you can make your non-dominant side stronger with a few strategic exercises.

4 exercises to strengthen your non-dominant side

1. Weight training

If you use free weights, simply switch from dumbbells to barbells to engage the muscles in your non-dominant side.

2. Bench press

Bench presses focus on both sets of pectorals, shoulders, and triceps and forces them to work together in unison, which can help strengthen your non-dominant side.

3. Unilateral exercises

Unilateral exercises deploy single arm or leg movements. These allow you to focus most of your attention on your non-dominant side to strengthen the muscles there.

Low-impact, unilateral lower-body exercises include:

  • Side lunge
  • Forward lunge
  • Backward lunge
  • Single-leg or "pistol" squat
  • Box step-up

Unilateral upper-body exercises include:

  • Single-arm dumbbell shoulder presses or lateral raises
  • Single-arm rows or chest presses
  • Single-arm standing dumbbell rows
  • Single-arm triceps extensions and biceps curls

4. Plyometric exercises

Plyometric exercises can be incorporated into unilateral exercises. Start with low-intensity exercises and gradually move to high-intensity exercises.

Unilateral lower-body plyometric drills include:

  • Single-leg push-off (low)
  • Lateral push-off (low)
  • Lateral box jump (medium)
  • Jump split squat (medium)
  • Single-leg vertical jump (high)
  • Single-leg tuck jump (high)

Complete a set of repetitions with your non-dominant side initially and then move to your dominant side. For example, if your left side is non-dominant, do 3 sets using your left side and 2 sets using your right side.

Why is strengthening your non-dominant side important?

Strengthening your non-dominant side increases your functional capacity and helps you correct imbalances that can cause aches and injuries. By making your non-dominant side stronger you lower your risk of:

  • Injury
  • Sore muscles
  • Poor circulation
  • Spinal misalignment
  • Stretched muscles on one side and shortened muscles on the other side


Pictures of the 7 Most Effective Exercises to Do at the Gym or Home (and Tips to Improve Form) See Slideshow

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors

Medically Reviewed on 3/17/2022
Image Source: iStock Images

Steinberg S. Strengthen the Nondominant Side of Your Body. WebMD.

Corballis MC. Left brain, right brain: facts and fantasies. PLoS Biol. 2014;12(1):e1001767.

Ashmore A. The Benefits of Unilateral Training. American Council on Exercise.