Breon Ansley Achieves Leg Development Balance Through Unilateral Training

breon ansley unilateral leg training
Breon Ansley Instagram

Breon Ansley likes to incorporate single-limb movements to balance out his physique. 

American bodybuilder Breon Ansley has consistently challenged Chris Bumstead in the Classic Physique category. Ansley, a two-time titleholder in 2017 and 2018, has also showcased impressive performances in the Arnold Classics. One remarkable aspect of Breon Ansley is his ability to transform weaknesses into strengths. For instance, despite initially having a weak back, he has successfully developed it into one of his most prominent features. One way he’s accomplished this is through unilateral training – training one limb at a time. 

Full Name: Breon Ansley
Weight Height Date of Birth
185-195 lbs 5’7″ 11/13/1979
Division Era Nationality
Classic Physique 2010s – Till Date American

During the recent Mr. Olympia competition, Breon Ansley secured the fourth spot, earning a prize of $7000. While discussing the rankings, Tyler Manion, the Vice President of the IFBB Pro League, highlighted a noticeable discrepancy. Ansley’s left leg appeared stronger and larger, which can be attributed to an ACL injury he suffered while playing sports in 1996.

As the Arnold Classic approaches, Breon Ansley is considering the feedback. As part of his leg day workouts, he has incorporated unilateral training to restore balance between his legs. In the following section, we’ll explore Ansley’s unilateral leg exercises and delve into his efforts to enhance his right leg in preparation for the upcoming season.

Breon Ansley’s Unilateral Leg Training

Below is the YouTube video of Ansley’s unilateral leg training:

To start his leg training, Breon Ansley first warms up for 10 minutes on the Stair Master, increasing his heart rate and blood flow to prepare his muscles for the exercise. At the end of this training, Ansley also reveals that he had trained his abs and lower back that morning. He also shares that he does stretches every morning and night.

“We’re going to stretch, going to go do vacuums, and that’s it. I did abs this morning [and] did low back this morning. Abs [and] low back every morning, stretch every morning, stretch every night.”

Ansley takes two approaches to help his imbalance for his unilateral training. First, he does conventional sets of the exercise and then rounds it up with unilateral sets using the weaker leg. Breon Ansley does his reps slowly during the unilateral sets, maximizing the time the leg spends under tension. Research shows this is an effective way to induce muscle hypertrophy (1).

Breon Ansley’s second way of training is by doing unilateral sets of the exercise and adding extra reps on his weak leg. Studies show that for people with bilateral limb imbalances, unilateral training can compensate for and strengthen your weaker limb (2). Ansley says,

“I’m going to mix and match with all single leg with the exercises and a few of the exercises, I’m just going to do more reps on the weaker leg.”

Breon Ansley’s Leg Workout 

For his leg day, Breon Ansley does five machine exercises in general. He does at least three sets of each routine and hits multiple sets. Ansley also talks about using different methods to make each set more challenging instead of just increasing the weights. 

“There’s a way you can make sets that much more challenging. Slow it down, you know, slow down the control, the positive and negative. Uh, you could pause at the bottom [and] you can hold it for a bit at the top. You could do even 4 seconds, uh negative, all kind of things you can do.“

Below are his exercises for leg day.

Leg Extensions
Smith Machine Squats
Unilateral Leg Press
Lying Leg Curls
Barbell Hip Thrust

Leg Extensions

Breon Ansley starts his leg day training by doing bilateral sets of leg extensions first. Then, he does unilateral sets using his right leg, which is the smaller one. During this exercise, Ansley does his reps slowly, keeping his muscles under tension for longer. The fixed position of your hips during leg extensions leads to better activation of that muscle than with exercises where your hips and knee move together. 

Smith Machine Squats

Next up, Breon Ansley did Smith machine squats using a weightlifting belt and knee sleeves. He also says that he usually doesn’t do squats. Still, he’s squatting correctly and focusing on the muscles doing the movement, focusing on his mind-muscle connection, and research shows this can lead to more muscle growth (3).

Unilateral Leg Presses

For the unilateral leg press, Breon Ansley uses a plate-loaded machine. He starts low and then progressively increases the weight till he hits 225 lbs. Ansley also talks about slowing down the reps with this routine to work his muscles better.

Lying Leg Curls

Next on Breon Ansley’s list of exercises are lying leg curls. He says he knows to do this exercise when the back of his knees gets sore. This lets him know it’s time to work out and strengthen his hamstrings

Barbell Hip Thrusts

Breon Ansley’s final movement for leg day is the barbell hip thrust. For this, he gets on the barbell hip thrust machine and does two sets with five weight plates. Ansley aims for 15 reps but stops at 13, stating that he felt the burn intensely, which is a great way to end his workout. 

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  1. Burd, N. A., Andrews, R. J., West, D. W., Little, J. P., Cochran, A. J., Hector, A. J., Cashaback, J. G., Gibala, M. J., Potvin, J. R., Baker, S. K., & Phillips, S. M. (2012). Muscle time under tension during resistance exercise stimulates differential muscle protein sub-fractional synthetic responses in men. The Journal of physiology, 590(2), 351–362. 
  2. Zhang, W., Chen, X., Xu, K., Xie, H., Li, D., Ding, S., & Sun, J. (2023). Effect of unilateral training and bilateral training on physical performance: A meta-analysis. Frontiers in physiology, 14, 1128250. 
  3. Schoenfeld, B. J., Vigotsky, A., Contreras, B., Golden, S., Alto, A., Larson, R., Winkelman, N., & Paoli, A. (2018). Differential effects of attentional focus strategies during long-term resistance training. European journal of sport science, 18(5), 705–712.
Terry Ramos
As a personal trainer and writer, Terry loves changing lives through coaching and the written word. Terry has a B.S. in Kinesiology and is an ACSM Certified Personal Trainer and ISSA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist. He enjoys playing music, reading, and watching films when he's not writing or training.