Many of the following dumbbell complexes emphasize unilateral exercises, which, as discussed previously, automatically activate the core musculature in order to maintain your posture and body position to control the offset load. In addition, unilateral strength training exercises also ensure that both sides of the body get equal work. This is valuable because it’s not uncommon for one side to be stronger than the other. With one-sided exercises, your weak side is forced to work and improve its strength relative to the other side.
Uppercut ■ Squat to Romanian Deadlift ■ Freestanding One-Arm Row
Stand tall with your feet roughly shoulder-width apart while holding a dumbbell in front of each shoulder (see figure a). Press one dumbbell into the air as you rotate to the opposite side (see figure b). Reverse the motion and press while rotating to the other side. To better allow your hips to rotate in this exercise, allow your heel to come off the ground as you turn.
2 Squat to Romanian Deadlift
Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart and your toes pointed straight ahead. Hold a dumbbell in each hand at your sides by your hips (see figure c). Perform a squat by bending your knees and sitting back at your hips (see figure d). Go as low as you can possibly go without allowing your lower back to round out. As you squat, be sure that you do not allow your heels to come off the ground or your knees to come together toward the midline. Stand tall again and bring the dumbbells in front of your thighs (see figure e). Keep your back straight, hinge at your hips and bend forward toward the floor, keeping your knees bent at roughly a 15- to 20-angle (see figure f). As you hinge forward, drive your hips backward and do not allow your back to round out. Once your torso is roughly parallel to the floor, drive your hips forward toward the dumbbells, reversing the motion to stand tall again.
Note: After you finish all of your squat to Romanian deadlifts, place one dumbbell on the floor to set up to perform the next exercise, freestanding one-arm row.
3 Freestanding One-Arm Row
Assume a split-stance position, with your right leg in front of your left leg with both knees slightly bent, and hold a dumbbell with your left hand. Hinge at your hips, keeping your back straight so that your torso becomes parallel with the floor (see figure g). Perform a row, pulling the dumbbell toward your body without rotating the shoulders or hips, making sure to pull your scapula toward your spine in a controlled manner as your arm moves into your body (see figure h). Be sure to maintain a stable spinal position, keeping your back straight throughout the exercise. Slowly lower the dumbbell toward the floor without letting it touch the floor. Repeat on the other side.