There are advantages and disadvantages of using both Single Limb and Double Limb exercises in your workouts and a lot of people jump on the ‘Bandwagon’ when it comes to using Single Limb exercises only…when there should be some thought as to why you should use both types of exercises in your resistance program.
Of course Single Limb exercises require more balance than Double Limb ones but the biggest problem with them is that there is an imbalance between the left and right sides of the body with most people. Therefore most people don’t know that they are completing their movements unevenly unless someone who knows what they are talking about points it out. I spend a fair bit of time correcting this imbalance with clients and it is harder to see it when the person being viewed is doing a Single Limb movement. There are a few reasons why people lift unevenly, including a natural weakness on one side as compared with the other, poor technique and a previous injury to one side changing their movement patterns, to name a few. The important point here though is that usually people cannot feel the difference, so unless they see it in the mirror and if there is not constant attention by an outside person (could be a Personal Trainer or a training partner) people will continue to do their movements unevenly…even when it is pointed out to them.
With Single Limb exercises therefore, it is easier to do the same movement differently on one side of the body as compared to the other.
Double Limb exercises are best done with a barbell because the movement between one side of the body and the other tends to be forced into the same movement pattern. Of course it doesn’t always happen and it doesn’t matter whether the person is an experienced lifter or not (probably even more so with an experienced lifter if they have been exercising by themselves for any length of time in particular). The most effective biofeedback is when someone exercises in front of a full length mirror if possible. The body is always adapting to the stimuli placed upon it and it will find the easiest way possible to move against resistance, so therefore there will often be at least a slight difference between each side of the body…particularly when using dumbbells or the like.
As stated in the first sentence, there are advantages and disadvantages in using both ways to exercise…so best to use both ways. Use both dumbbells and barbells (or other resistance equipment) in your routine and always endeavor to use even movement patterns between each side of the body. Injuries only happen when there is faulty technique in lifting. It’s not the resistance that does it but incorrect, imbalanced technique. As always your body is trying to tell you that something isn’t right when there is that type of pain…so listen to it…