Athletes, have you ever considered why your body can perform nearly the same load that both limbs can do with just one? Or even consider why the sum of the loads done on each limb individually can add up to more than the sum of the load done when both limbs work together? That is the definition of the BLD (bilateral deficit).
Oftentimes when we’re training on two different squat or deadlift progressions, the BLD occurs. People are able to lift at least 60% of their overall bilateral strength unilaterally. This means that an athlete’s regular max deadlift load might be 315lbs but then can lift 190lbs on a single leg deadlift. The same thing can happen on squat progressions. The neuromuscular necessities when performing a bilateral exercise is much greater than unilateral exercises, which means the brain works much harder for exercises that ultimately give you less output. This is one of the reasons why sports’ fundamental movements are trained. Unilateral strength and conditioning training prepares you better for your particular sports, hence why it is prioritized over bilateral training.
Bilateral strength and conditioning training is not forgotten. We utilize different variations in exercises to train for bilateral strength and power based on an athlete’s position in their particular sport; we consider which movements mainly occur in that position. When we look at an ice hockey athlete versus a track and field sprinter, or a defensive lineman in football versus a soccer midfielder, they will require different progressions of both unilateral or bilateral exercises. However, from the movements that occur most in a game, we know that bilateral power and strength based exercises for a defensive lineman might be more beneficial than training unilateral exercises and so on.