Workout of the Day



An overwhelming majority of the movements in any given gym are likely to occur bilaterally, or “both-sided.” A barbell is traditionally lifted with both arms evenly placed (think bench press, squat, or snatch), and the feet are generally positioned evenly under the individual (as in squats, box jumps, or a kettlebell swing). If we apply a simple physics diagram, viewed from the front, the load is placed in a straight line, directly in the middle of the individual and in line with the spine. Despite this, the importance of training with unilateral (one-sided) loading cannot be understated.

If we step back for a moment, it should be evident that, if we are endeavoring to be functional movers, we are compelled to train ourselves to move in uneven and, at times, awkward ways. The demands of life are often unilateral. Carrying a child, throwing a ball, climbing a mountain, changing you oil -- all occur with uneven weight distribution from side to side. And if we peel back another layer of the proverbial onion, it is evident that not only is unilateral loading practically functional, it is imperative for the health of your spine.

Imagine applying considerable pressure to one side of a large, upright spring or coil. What happens? The side that is under pressure compresses, and the other side bows or arcs outward to make a “C” shape. Now imagine this spring or coil is your spine. It doesn’t take an orthopedist to guess that your spine bowing into a “C” shape won’t have good results. This is where the infamous “core” comes into play. You are blessed to have a few very important muscles in the sides of your torso that are capable of doing a darn good job of keeping your delicate spring/coil/spine from bending in ways that it shouldn’t. The thing is, if you spend all of your time applying pressure evenly, directly down the middle of your spine, those muscles will never be developed to handle the inevitable unilateral loads of life.

Fortunately, the antidote is quite simple. Apply a load to one side, move with one leg at a time, move awkward things with a high priority on spinal mechanics. While these movements may not carry the same glamour as a heavy deadlift, they are essential, and you will see them appear in our regular GPP (General Physical Preparedness) programming.

Whether it’s your ability to carry a child on your hip unscathed or to stave off costly, painful, and debilitating back surgery 30 years from now, a simple game of one-sided loading may be your golden ticket.

- PS


  • For total calories:

  • 15 rounds:

    • 60s row

    • 60s rest