Lateral Movement Training

Emily Beers


Vancouver, Canada



If you have ever played a sport—unless your sport was rowing—you probably appreciate the ability to move laterally, meaning the ability to effectively move sideways.


Yet our training often doesn’t reflect this. We squat, we press, we deadlift, we push, we pull—all linear movements. Rarely do we incorporate lateral movements into our training plan.



But in all reality we should prioritize lateral movement training. Below are three reasons why and three ways to do it.


1. Lateral Training Reduces Injuries

I have heard so many stories about people getting injured doing something silly like hopping over a fence laterally and landing awkwardly. Usually it’s a really fit person, too, as he was confident to jump the fence in the first place.


The point is that if you train 100 percent linearly, your muscles—and more importantly your joints—just won’t be as prepared as they should be for the sudden lateral demands that come up in life or during most sports.


2. Lateral Training Makes You Stronger

Beyond preparing your body to potentially avoid acute injuries, training laterally can help you strengthen your smaller stabilizer muscles, as well as help you iron out any current muscle imbalances you might have.


Frequently our muscles are used in a liner fashion, so building strength and flexibility laterally will support your strength goals.



3. Lateral Training Adds Variety

Many of us get stuck in doing the same thing at the gym week after week, month after month (ad nauseum). Variety is helpful not just for reducing the boredom you might feel with your current training plan, but also to ensure you become more balanced and capable of handling different and new stimuli.


OK, so how do you go about moving sideways at the gym?


Below are three ideas to get your wheels turning laterally.




Lateral Training Warm-Up

You must remember to warm-up. Check out the video below that highlights some lateral dynamic warm-up movements to do before getting into the exercises.



Lateral Training Movement 1: Goblet Cossack Squats

A Cossack squat is a lateral squat where you sink into one hip while the other leg remains straight. Go as deep as you can, just like a squat, all the while maintaining a stable position. Can you squat laterally below parallel via a Cossack squat?



  • Perform 4-5 sets of 6-8 reps per leg with a moderate weight



Lateral Training Movement 2: Lateral Running and Jumping Course

You may have done a plyometric course before, but maybe not a lateral one. You can use cones or small boxes if you’re confident, and you can either run laterally or jump and rebound laterally.


  • Spend 10 minutes moving through the course. Rest as needed between each time through the course.



Lateral Training Movement 3: Lateral Box Running

This exercise is great for developing lateral prowess, and also for increasing speed and power. It also requires less space than the running course. All you need are two boxes—one shorter one and one taller one.


Focus on moving explosively from the ground to the first box with your first foot before pushing off and stepping laterally with the other foot onto the higher box.


  • 10 sets per leg. Rest as needed.


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