14 Lateral Movements to Improve Your Workout
If you are interested in improving your exercise program to enhance both your life and sport abilities, then the extremely functional activity known as Lateral Movement should be included in your regimen.
Side-to-side (or lateral) movement is very often missing from most of our training and exercise programs. We see plenty of front to back, and up and down, motions like lunges, squats, push-ups and pull-ups, but oddly we don’t see many lateral movements.
Why Lateral Movement Matters
Our environments are much more controlled and easy to traverse than they used to be (sitting at a computer, sitting in a car, home delivery, binging shows on the couch) which means we don’t get the amount or variety of movement that our bodies have evolved to expect and rely on. Our ancestors were certainly moving around in many more directions, levels, and planes than we do now. And this is a big deal! Let me tell you why.
Forward movements like running and biking use the same dominant muscles, stressing your hamstrings, calves, and quads. If you stress the dominant muscle groups, causing them to become increasingly stronger as your smaller muscles shrink or stay the same, you cause an imbalance, which can lead to tissue degeneration and injury.
Working all those small but mighty stabilizer muscles is just as important as working larger dominant muscles if we want to get them ready to perform well. And there are few better ways to work those muscles than to engage in side-to-side movement.
Plus, it is just plain fun to change things up from time to time. Moving in unique and different ways can really reduce boredom and increase our desire to hit the gym, the park, the trail, the pool or the playground.
Lateral movements also help reduce the risk of everything from losing mobility as we age to reducing the number of sports injuries we incur.
I hope you are starting to see that adding all sorts of lateral movements to your training is crucial. Lateral movements not only improve your strength, overall stability, and full body coordination, but they also help reduce the risk of everything from losing mobility as we age to reducing the number of sports injuries we incur.
If we enhance our balance and proprioception by engaging in lateral movement drills, we can also help bring more balanced strength to our entire life.
Basic Lateral Drills
Now that we have covered why we should add lateral movement to our workouts, let’s go through some exercises that you can try. As always, I will try my best to explain these but it is always best to watch an expert do them, so I encourage you to do some searching online.
In a standing position, turn your body sideways and extend your right leg out to the side of your body. Shift your weight onto your right leg and then shuffle the left leg toward it. Shift your weight back onto your left leg and repeat. Keep your chest up and your feet pointing straight in front of you. Don’t forget to turn around and repeat the exercise in the opposite direction.
Turn your body sideways again (like the shuffle) and step out with your right foot to your right side. Then with your left foot step over so it is crisscrossing over your right leg, in front of you. Shift your weight and step your right leg out again, then step the left foot so it is crisscrossing behind your right leg. And so on.
3. Lateral Lunges
Stand with your feet about double your shoulder-width apart and then shift your weight to one leg. Push your hips back as you lower your body down into a lunge. Lunge as low as you can without allowing your pelvis or back to collapse. Keep your other leg straight and your foot flat on the floor. Push back up into a standing position and repeat on the other side.
4. Step Across
Start by standing on the left side of a weight bench and put your right foot on the bench and press your entire body up, bringing your left foot behind you and across to the right side of the bench. Step back down and repeat. Make sure you do both sides!
5. Lateral Band Walks
Grab a resistance band and create a loop about 10 inches (25 centimeters) across. Step into the loop and adjust it to sit just below your knees. Bend your knees slightly and then step to the side with one foot and then step the second foot to the first foot—and repeat. The wider you step, the more resistance you will encounter.
6. Side-to-Side Lunges
Start with feet hip-width apart and step out to the side with one foot, bending that knee so you get your body into a lunge while sitting way back into your heel. Press into the bent leg to push yourself explosively back to your starting position—and repeat. Don’t forget to do the other side too!
7. Lateral Step-ups
Stand to the side of a (lengthwise) bench that is a little shorter than your knee height. Step up with the foot that is closest to the bench. Bring the other foot up onto the step and then switch which foot is supporting you and step down to the opposite side, one foot at a time. Switch directions and repeat. One step in each direction equals one rep.
Begin by getting yourself into what could be called a curtsy or a speed skater position (a slight squat with one leg crossed over the other). Put your weight on the front foot and leap sideways to land on the other foot, landing in that same slight skater squat (or curtsy) pose. Swing your arms like a speed skater as you perform this movement. One skate in each direction equals one rep.
9. Lateral Crab Walk
Sit down on the floor with your knees bent, your palms slightly behind you, and your feet flat on the floor. Lift your glutes off the floor and walk your left foot and right hand to the left, followed by your right foot and left hand. Then reverse the pattern. Like a crab!
10. Lateral Bear Crawl
The easiest way to describe this to basically crawl like a baby, but sideways, with your knees off the ground. Make sense? Good.
11. Lateral Bunny Hop
This one is super fun and easy. Standing up, keep your legs and feet as close together as possible, and swing your arms as you make small, quick jumps side to side as if you are jumping over an invisible line.
12. Lateral Handstand Walk
Now we are really cooking! Get into a handstand position (against a wall if you need to – which I do) shift your weight onto one hand while you move the other hand toward your supporting hand. Then shift your weight onto the other hand and move the non-weight bearing hand away from the supporting hand. If you have room, you can keep going in that same direction or reverse the direction and move back to the start.
You bet this qualifies as a lateral movement! And if done correctly, a cartwheel can be a thing of beauty. I have yet to reach that level of cartwheeling proficiency, but I am getting there and you can too.
14. Lateral Plank Walk
Begin in basic plank (or push-up) position with your hands directly under your shoulders. Then simultaneously cross your right hand toward the left as you step your left foot out to the left. Then step your left hand and right foot to the left, returning to the plank position.
If you even try a few of these lateral movements per week, you will be certain to improve your overall movement and coordination.
By Brock Armstrong – Original Article Here