Nakachi, E. H., Feland, J. B., & Eggett, D. (2012). Greater energy expenditure in unilateral vs. bilateral weight training. Presentation 595 at the 59th Annual Meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine, San Francisco, California; May 29-June 2, 2012.

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"Several studies have analyzed the energy expenditure of traditional bilateral weight training. However, there has been no examination of the energy expenditure of unilateral weight training. Unilateral weight training requires greater stabilization than bilateral weight training and should require greater energy expenditure with equal workloads."

This study compared the energy expenditure between unilateral and bilateral weight training in male volunteers (N = 7). Ss were assigned to an initial unilateral or bilateral workout followed by the other workout at least two days later. The unilateral workout was performed one limb at a time in an alternating manner. The bilateral workout was performed with both limbs working in unison. The workouts consisted of two groups of three exercises in a circuit for 4 sets of 10 repetitions at 60% 1RM. A portable metabolic system recorded the metabolic activity of each lifter’s workout plus 10 minutes of excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC).

The total energy expenditure for the workout plus 10 minutes of EPOC was significantly greater for the unilateral vs. the bilateral workout. The energy expenditure, oxygen consumption, and heart rate for the workout plus 10 minutes of EPOC were significantly greater in the unilateral workout compared to the bilateral workout. Time to complete the workout was significantly longer in the unilateral workout than the bilateral workout (24.5 min vs. 18.2 min). The unilateral workout used an average of 11% more kJ per minute and produced higher heart rates than the bilateral workout.

Implication. The unilateral workout produced greater total energy expenditure than the bilateral workout and took more time to complete.

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