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:
- Sore muscles
- Poor circulation
- Spinal misalignment
- Stretched muscles on one side and shortened muscles on the other side
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Steinberg S. Strengthen the Nondominant Side of Your Body. WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/features/strengthen-the-nondominant-side-of-your-body
Corballis MC. Left brain, right brain: facts and fantasies. PLoS Biol. 2014;12(1):e1001767. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3897366/
Ashmore A. The Benefits of Unilateral Training. American Council on Exercise. https://www.acefitness.org/education-and-resources/professional/expert-articles/7035/the-benefits-of-unilateral-training/
Top How Can I Make My Non-dominant Side Stronger Related Articles
10 Best Shoulder Exercises for Your Home WorkoutThe shoulder is made of two joints. One joint is between the shoulder blade (scapula) and collar bone (clavicle) called the acromioclavicular joint. The other joint is a type of ball and socket joint between the upper end of the bone of the arm (humerus) and shoulder blade. There are 10 shoulder exercises that you can easily include as a part of your home workout.
Fitness and Exercise: Basic Body-Weight Exercises You Can Do Right NowBody-weight exercises use your body's weight as resistance instead of equipment. Here are some you can do anywhere, any time.
Exercise QuizTake our Exercise and Fitness Quiz and learn to maximize your fitness level with simple exercises that do not require major changes to your lifestyle.
Exercises for Seniors: Tips for Core, Balance, StretchingExercise for seniors is important for healthy and successful aging. Learn about core strengthening, balance exercises, and stretching and relaxation routines. See what happens to our bodies as we age, how to start exercising, and the benefits of exercising as a senior.
How Do You Strengthen Your Lower Back?It allows releasing the tension in the back. Performing either of the following stretches daily can improve the range of motion in your back, strengthening the muscles in your lower back.
How Can I Strengthen My Arm and Hand After a Stroke?Strengthening your arm or hands after a stroke is helpful for both pain treatments and the prevention of further injury. There are therapies that you might help you strengthen your arm.
Off-Balance Core MovesWant a toned stomach or a winning tennis game? WebMD's pictures show 11 off-balance core exercises to help get you there.
OA & Your JointsDealing with joint pain and arthritis? Learn why weight matters--and why NOT to stretch before exercise. See these solutions for joint pain and tips to protect your joints from damage.
What Are 7 of the Most Effective Exercises?The seven most effective exercises are swimming, tai chi, resistance training, walking, kegels, active lifestyle, and sneak exercise into your daily life.