“I read your short piece on mountain bike training using unilateral training methods.I am not a biker but am interested in unilateral training.

I like your point about recruiting more muscles.

But . . . if you curl 100 lbs for 10 reps bilaterally, you’ve done 1000 lbs. If it takes 40 seconds, then you’ve put 25 lbs/sec of stress on your heart, lungs, Central Nervous System, spine, etc.

Now let’s say you’re stronger unilaterally and can curl 60 lbs, each arm.

60 lbs x 10 reps + 60 lbs x 10 reps = 1200 lbs . . . ostensibly more work.

But if it took you 40 seconds + 40 seconds = 80 seconds . . . that’s 15 lbs/sec worth of stress.

In other words . . . even though I “know” that unilateral is more work I’m stuck on how to show it.”


While I understand where you are coming from I first have to say that the “proof” of any training program lies in the results in produces. Using math equations can help us understand training better but it never “proves” anything.

To your point, though, bilateral training will allow you to expose the body to higher levels of stress. This is one of the main reasons that you still need it in your program. However, one method that allows you to accomplish a specific thing does not address everything you need as an athlete.

In my opinion, unilateral work should represent up to 50-80% of an athletes strength training volume because it is more specific to creating athletic movement, it does recruit muscles that do not activated during bilateral exercises and it allows you to expose your body to difficult exercises without excessive loads. In my experience this approach works best for long term development.

Hope this answers your question, let me know if you have any more…

Ride Strong,

James Wilson

MTB Strength Training Systems

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