When training, each person has different training styles regarding the way they need to be coached. However, something that both trainers and trainees should have in consideration is the benefits of different training modalities that, according to goals and/or unexpected circumstances, can be beneficial towards the maintenance or shift of said goals. A couple of training methods that should be added into everyone's routines and that, as previously mentioned, should be implemented no matter the scenario, are unilateral work and “tempo” training.
Unilateral work means working one side of the body at a time. Depending on the goals, the dynamic of the unilateral movement will vary, however, there are benefits that will come from unilateral work regardless of the approach. Such are:
Improved Balance. Unilateral exercises will challenge balance as one side of the body will be exposed to stress while the other side works on compensating or contrasting said stress. When we do a single-leg Romanian deadlift, one of our legs moves along the motion of hinging over while the other leg works as a base, both of them working towards generating the balance necessary to perform the exercise.
Less muscle imbalance. Some exercises can feel more difficult on one side than the other, which exposes any imbalance in the body. It is important to work both sides of the body equally in order to have even muscle distribution, as well as preventing any injuries that could come from said imbalances.
Tempo training means adding a set tempo or speed into your training to help you build more muscle, improve strength, and aid fat loss. Just like unilateral work and any training modality, temp needs to be manipulated in specific ways. However, some of the general benefits are:
Control. By using tempo training, the body gets used to being able to perform a certain movement in a controlled manner, which means properly moving weight. When lifting weight too fast the correct form can be lost throughout the motion of the exercise which can lead to injury.
A better understanding of body position. By moving the weight in a controlled way, the body and mind learn to become more aware of each part of the lift which helps break down the movement. This helps identify any weakness or problems in a lift, to then if necessary, be able to work on separately.
Time under tension. Just like fast or regular pace lifts have their reasons and benefits, tension time does too. The more stress the muscles are under, the more growth there will be. As the movement slows down from a regular speed, the body has to recruit more muscle fibers to control the movement and to go back to the initial position.
Both unilateral and tempo modalities have many more great benefits, but the main point is to understand how they can help towards certain goals. Some goals might take an approach that uses more one than the other, or might even combine them, but certainly these two modalities should be included in everyone's routines.