How Breon Ansley Uses Unilateral Training to Balance His Legs

Bodybuilding is all about aesthetics — muscle size, shape, and conditioning; professional bodybuilders are judged on balance, proportions, and symmetry. Neglecting muscle and strength imbalances can be detrimental to a professional bodybuilder’s winning chances in competition. 

Perceptual and Motor Skills confirmed that bilateral asymmetry is normal in the human body, attributable to genetic and environmental (evolutionary) factors. The paper added that “the dominant side of the body is stronger than the other side due to additional stress and strain, and thus has augmented musculature and increased mass.” (1)

On Jan. 7, 2024, two-time Classic Physique Olympia champion Breon Ansley took to his YouTube channel to share his secrets for fixing lower body muscle imbalances via unilateral training. Check it out below:

Ansley revealed that his left leg is bigger than the right due to an ACL injury sustained in 1996 while playing basketball.

Tyler Manion, Vice President of the IFBB Pro League, pointed out Ansley’s imbalance during a 2023 Classic Physique Olympia placing breakdown video. Ansley is determined to address the feedback by bringing a better package to the 2024 Arnold Classic (AC), scheduled for March 1-3, 2024, in Columbus, OH.

In the lead-up to the 2024 AC, Ansley is employing two training strategies that involve performing higher repetitions on his weaker side to remedy his strength and muscle imbalance.

1. Conventional Sets Followed by Unilateral Reps on the Weaker Side

Ansley initially completed the recommended reps on the leg extension with both legs. Afterward, he performed extra reps with only his right leg. He used a slow rep cadence to increase the leg’s time under tension to maximize quad stimulation. 

A clinical trial published in The Journal of Physiology found that the leg extension exercise at 30 percent of the best effort with a slow lifting movement (six seconds up, six seconds down) performed to fatigue produces greater increases in rates of muscle protein synthesis than the same movement performed rapidly. (2) So slow and steady is the way to go for hypertrophy goals.

2. Unilateral Sets With More Reps on the Underdeveloped Side

Ansley performed single-leg hip presses to work each leg unilaterally through their full ranges of motion. Ansley’s thighs touched his chest at the bottom of each rep, where he paused in the fully shortened position for a deep quad stretch

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A post shared by Breon Ansley “The Black Swan” (@breonma_)

A meta-analysis published in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports found that “full range of motion resistance training is more effective than partial ROM to maximize muscle strength and lower-limb muscle hypertrophy.” (3)

Ansley will next compete at the 2024 Arnold Classic, aiming for his second career AC Classic Physique title. He previously won the title in 2018. The reigning champion Ramon Rocha Queiroz, former champion Terrence Ruffin, and German bodybuilder Urs Kalecinski will contend against Ansley in Ohio. 


Krishan K, Kanchan T. Forensic and Anthropological Application of Body Asymmetry: A Comment on Gutnik et al. (2015). Percept Mot Skills. 2016 Apr;122(2):578-82. doi: 10.1177/0031512516640667. PMID: 27166335.

Burd NA, Andrews RJ, West DW, Little JP, Cochran AJ, Hector AJ, Cashaback JG, Gibala MJ, Potvin JR, Baker SK, Phillips SM. Muscle time under tension during resistance exercise stimulates differential muscle protein sub-fractional synthetic responses in men. J Physiol. 2012 Jan 15;590(2):351-62. doi: 10.1113/jphysiol.2011.221200. Epub 2011 Nov 21. PMID: 22106173; PMCID: PMC3285070.

Pallarés JG, Hernández-Belmonte A, Martínez-Cava A, Vetrovsky T, Steffl M, Courel-Ibáñez J. Effects of range of motion on resistance training adaptations: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2021 Oct;31(10):1866-1881. doi: 10.1111/sms.14006. Epub 2021 Jul 5. PMID: 34170576.

Featured image: @breonma_ on Instagram

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