Unilateral Training from the Ground Up: A Runner’s Guide

If you’re a runner then you’ve probably heard that strength training is important in order to develop power to run faster and also vital for preventing injuries.

Even further, strength training that incorporates unilateral exercises is key.  Not only does working each side of the body help to identify imbalances but it also works to correct them.  

Exercises such as single leg deadlifts and single leg squats are recommended to help build that strength – which isn’t wrong but the problem is that most runners can’t just DO those single leg exercises without working up to them. 

Most runners have strong legs but a weak core or upper body which inhibits them from performing these exercises properly.  The fact is that you NEED to intelligently progress these exercises so you can build the core and upper body strength to be able to execute them properly without risking injury.  And you do that by working your way from the ground up. 

Building Unilateral Strength from the Ground Up: A Runner's Guide

While I have gone through many of these progressions in various articles on here, it dawned on me while at the DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Master Trainer Summit this past weekend that there would be a benefit to providing the information in a more organized way.

For those of you who have been long time readers, you know that I use the DVRT System, which is a progressive system, in my own training and with my clients.  The DVRT System works to build strength starting with the most stable position and working toward an unstable position.  It’s also focuses on connecting muscles from top to bottom and making them work together helping to build strength, endurance and flexibility.  

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It all sounds so simple but the truth is that we are all guilty of trying to do something more advanced than we are ready for.  Single leg squats and deadlifts are super challenging – performing them and performing them well means you have to progress properly.  

So, over the course of the next several weeks (and perhaps even months), I will be sharing weekly articles on pretty much everything you need to know about building unilateral strength from the ground up. 

Starting next week, I will share key exercises starting on the ground and explaining how to perform them and incorporate them into your training.  Not only will they help you to build the unilateral strength you need to do more advanced exercises but they will also help to identify and correct muscle imbalances making for a stronger, faster and more resilient runner! 

Unilateral Training Series:

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About me

Annmarie is a self proclaimed foodie, avid long distance runner and functional fitness coach. A DVRT Master Trainer, HKC Instructor and food allergy sufferer, she writes about strength training for runners as well as shares allergy friendly recipes for busy athletes.   She is also the owner of Strength In Motion Studio, mother of two sassy sisters and wife to a chronically busy chiropractor.   Subscribe by email for updates to get the latest workouts, advice and recipes straight to your inbox!


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angela @ happy fit mama
Reply October 4, 2017

Great idea! Can't wait to follow along.

Patricia @Sweet and Strong
Reply October 4, 2017

Love this. I am terrible at pistol squats. Totally agree with the importance of training your legs with different movements. I did a bunch of lateral lunges the other day and dang can I feel it!

Reply October 4, 2017

Looking forward to your posts. I can't pistol squat worth sh$t. My core is very strong but I'm paranoid about injuring my hip and knee if I go too low without holding onto something.

Janelle @ Run With No Regrets
Reply October 4, 2017

I'm very excited about this series! I must admit that single legged deadlifts are almost impossible for me to do...my balance is terrible!
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Reply October 4, 2017

Look at you with that pistol squat!! Totally jealous -- I can usually get down, but then can't get back up!

Kimberly Hatting
Reply October 4, 2017

This will be a great series!! I'm looking forward to following along ;-)

Deborah @ Confessions of a mother runner
Reply October 4, 2017

I do a lot of one legged moves but I have not done a pistol squat in a long time. Nice form!
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Susie @ Suzlye
Reply October 4, 2017

If you can get me to do a pistol squat... I will declare you chancellor of the universe :D

Wendy@Taking the Long Way Home
Reply October 4, 2017

Love that pistol squat along the water! Strong hips! I would have fallen in...

Julie @ Running in a Skirt
Reply October 4, 2017

What a useful series girl!!! I'm going to follow along and work at it! I can NOT do that yet!
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Laura @ This Runner's Recipes
Reply October 4, 2017

What a great series! Single leg deadlifts and lunges are some of my favorite strength exercises, but I struggle with the full range of motion on the pistol squat.

Kim G
Reply October 4, 2017

Your pistol squats are just phenomenal - I hope to be able to do those one day

Atim at EffiFit
Reply October 4, 2017

Unilateral training is a real challenge but has so many benefits. I'm excited for the exercises that you'll share!

Chrystal Rose
Reply October 4, 2017

Love this outlook on your training. Im all about deadlifts and lunges -I'm looking forward to your future exercise tips! Oh and your killing those pistol squats!
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Reply October 4, 2017

I cannot do a pistol squat! Looking forward to your future posts on building strength
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Chantal Steele
Reply October 4, 2017

Hi! Popping over from Fitful Focus to check out your blog. I am working on my NASM cert and have to admit that I didn't know what DVTR training was. Thanks for the link party!

Nicole @ Fitful Focus
Reply October 4, 2017

Looking forward to this cause I NEED it!

Agness of Fit Travelling
Reply October 6, 2017

This is such an awesome idea and a great thing. I am looking forward to reading all of your tips and tricks which will help me become a better runner!

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