Why Contralateral Exercises?

by Landon Smith

After spending the last few blogs covering the basics of nutrition and supplementation, this blog we’re deviating into the exercise realm; specifically, why we do contralateral exercises.

The amazingness that is contralateral exercises

A contralateral exercise is any exercise where the resistance comes from the opposite side of the working limb. If you do small group training, you have likely heard this weird vocab word that we use to make us trainers sound smart. If you’re mainly a team training client, you know that when you see the letters CL in front of an exercise, it’s going to be tough.  But why does “CL” make things so much tougher and why do we select this exercise variation so often? You’re going to want to hold on to something cause I’m about to get trainer geeky on you for a second.

  1. Contralateral exercises increase bodily balance and awareness, thus creating a more efficient and better moving musculoskeletal system
  2. Contralateral exercise increases core activation and aids in core strengthening in functional patterns
  3. Contralateral exercise has been proven to even increase muscle activation in non-exercising limbs and is being used to reduce atrophy in immobilized parts of the body
  4. Contralateral exercises have a higher demand on the nervous system and therefore can be performed with lower weight, sparing joints from unneeded strain
Need a break down?

This kind of training not only enhances your overall athletic ability and mobility, it can even aid in injury recovery and prevention. Contralateral exercise is one of the ultimate “bang for your buck” moves you can perform in an exercise routine.

Hopefully, the next time you hear “contralateral” or see the “CL” on an exercise card, you won’t be filled with fear or anguish. After reading this, that word should give you a warm fuzzy feeling deep down. Everything we do here is for a reason and everything we do is for your benefit!

Thanks for reading and if you have any more questions, you know where to find me.


Landon Smith is a personal trainer at Alloy Personal Training Center in Roswell, GA


We offer several options of personal training to meet every goal and fitness level

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