Lateral training techniques have various practical uses when applied to a specific area such as sports, health and overall conditioning programs. Lateral training is not a new concept but the value of it has been underestimated until recently when fitness really exploded into the mainstream. Pilates and yoga utilize a type of lateral training in passive and controlled ways. Strengthening and stretching are the main areas of focus for lateral work when it comes to yoga and Pilates. Poses are held or “pulsed” for timed intervals providing an amazing burn for excellent muscular endurance. Your joints will definitely benefit from this type of training also.
Plyometrics style training includes ballistic maneuvers to use lateral leg work which makes the movements very explosive and powerful. This is ideal for increasing your jump height, speed, agility and balance along with strengthening connective tissues which helps to make your joints stronger. Sports and rehabilitation conditioning are also dependent on this style of training but is applied relative to the person’s needs, obstacles or injuries. Progressions and modified versions of plyometric drills can be used for rehabilitative purposes.
Lateral training is usually performed with higher reps and lighter weight and can be used with timed intervals. Technique and form is very important because the joints are involved to a high degree when using this type of training. Fitness machines and equipment such as extreme boards, lateral training tools, bands, slide boards and Bosu balls are all great additions. Many of these items are found in physiotherapy clinics but only a small percentage of gyms will have these effective pieces of equipment.
Some of the lateral training drills you can apply to your training program can include side shuffles and you can even use a Bosu ball for added difficulty. Side hops using both legs or on a single leg are great and you can increase the intensity by using a plyo ball or cones. You can perform the side hop drill directly forward and backward along a straight line to really kick it up another notch. Hopping up and down stairs sideways using both of your legs or on a single leg is very advanced but really works your ankles and knee joints. Something as common as the “Grapevine” maneuver which is used in aerobics is a very effective lateral move. Your everyday jumping jacks are also a sample of lateral training.
Inline skating and ice skating are lateral exercises that come into play when you push off with each foot. These are excellent techniques to use to target your glutes and really tone up your booty. Every stride hits the outer thigh area which helps to tighten and tone the buttocks. Skating style movements like side shuffles are excellent conditioning movements for warming up. This is when you basically step or hop out to the side with one leg while the other foot touches that leg’s ankle and then you immediately hop over to the other side and so on, just like skating. Performing side shuffles are also great for anyone who doesn’t have access to skates and you can do this exercise in the convenience of your own home using your own body weight.
Soccer is a sport with a lot of lateral movements. Because soccer is an “up and down” type of game where players pass the ball around, lateral movements are used the majority of the time. Many of the soccer drills include lateral kicks to a teammate or when kicking to yourself while you are running down the field. Using specific ball handling lateral movements can be a challenge but they really target the sides of your lower legs extremely well and are excellent for developing agility and coordination.
If you’re looking to add some new and interesting training movements to your workout routine, I suggest adding some of the above lateral training drills into the mix. Along with the exercises I noted earlier, you can also include inner and outer thigh exercises like side raises and glute raises using elastic exercise bands or a cable machine and perform these 2-3 times per week along with the other drills. By applying lateral training exercises to your fitness routine, you can quickly shock your muscles into growth by using different stimuli which is always needed to keep your body guessing so it doesn’t plateau from using the same exercises day in and day out.