Contralateral Vs. Ipsilateral
You’ve probably heard our coaches blurt these words out almost daily, but lets dive into what they really mean for us!
First and foremost, whether you’re doing something ipsilaterally or contralaterally, you’re performing a unilateral exercise either way. The difference comes in which side of your body you are externally loading, the “working side” or the “off-side”.
The “working side” being the side directly involved in the exercise, for example, the front leg in either a forward or reverse lunge.
When we load contralaterally on either of these movements, there is a greater level of stability required to complete the movement without excessively shifting weight or compensating in any manner.
When you perform a Reverse Lunge to Overhead Press loaded contralaterally, the working leg is the forward leg, however the dumbbell is loaded on the back leg side.
The positioning of this load will be creating greater rotational and translational forces during the reverse lunge that will cause the body to want to bend, twist, and shift toward that side. Your core stabilizers however are working over time here to ensure that your shoulders stay square and level.
Because there is greater demand on stability and resisting those additional rotational and translation forces, the loading in contralateral movements is often a bit reduced to account for the extra work having to be done by the core.
When performing an Ipsilateral Reverse Lunge, the loading is on the same side as the working leg, that is, the forward leg, and therefore the weight is more closely positioned over her stable leg than if it were to be in off hand. This results in lesser rotational and translational forces and gives room for a greater relative loading.
Both Ipsilateral and Contralateral exercise should find their way into a balanced training program and are great ways to continue to challenge your body without necessarily needing to increase your loading right away!