Build lateral strength

Moving from side to side makes it easier to gain forward momentum.

Most of the activities we do on a daily basis—walking, running, biking—have us moving forwards. It’s necessary, then, that athletes explore different planes of motion. Lateral movements are essential for runners because they improve stride strength and hip integrity, says David Otey, personal training manager at Equinox Sports Club in New York City. “These exercises challenge the balance of abductors and adductors in the leg, which control limb strength,” he explains. “This also incorporates extra attention to the gluteus medius, which adds stability near the hip.”

Target your lower body from every angle possible (and get stronger all over as a result) by adding these side-to-side strengtheners to your routine about twice a week.

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  • Lateral Lunge with Overhead Reach

    Lateral Lunge with Overhead Reach

    From a standing position with feet shoulder-width apart, step to your left side with toes facing forwards. Descend the left leg into a lunge, maintaining a straight line between your ankle, knee, and hip. Once in the lunge, extend both arms above head while looking up towards hands. Return to starting position and repeat to the right side to complete one rep. Do 12 reps, continuing to alternate sides throughout.

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  • Lateral Band Walks with Arm Drive

    Lateral Band Walks with Arm Drive

    Stand with feet about hip-width apart, in a quarter-squat position, knees slightly bent, elbows bent by sides, with a band around your quads just above the knees. Keeping your hips back in an active ready stance as if you are reaching to sit in a chair, back tall, abs engaged and chest open, take a step about a foot to the right with right foot, pushing band out to side, landing on a flat foot, as you drive left arm forwards, right arm back. Step left foot in so feet are back to hip-width apart again, keeping resistance in band, driving right arm forwards and left arm back. Continue this sequence for eight to 10 steps to the right side; switch directions and repeat in reverse until you return to start. Do 16 to 20 steps total.

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  • Skier Jumps

    Skier Jumps

    From standing position, hop laterally to one side. Landing on single leg, decelerate into lunging position and spring out of loaded position laterally. From acceleration, land on opposite leg in the same manner as previous leg to complete one rep. Do 10 reps, continuing to alternate sides throughout.

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  • Lateral Forward Bounding with Backpedal Return

    Lateral Forward Bounding with Backpedal Return

    Using contralateral arm and leg drive, bound diagonally forwards with your right foot as far to the right as possible (the trick here is you are actually pushing off the outside leg in the opposing direction, for example, pushing off left leg to go towards the right), then immediately bound to the left with your left foot. Alternate 10 bounds forwards, then backpedal back to start and repeat for two to three sets.

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  • Lateral Cone Jumps

    Lateral Cone Jumps

    Arrange a set of cones in a line. Standing on one side of the line of cones, lower yourself into a deep squat, then use your arm and hip drive to jump laterally over the cones, landing softly in a deep squat. Immediately repeat in opposite direction. Pace yourself and continuously jump side to side for 30 seconds; take 30 seconds rest. Repeat for 45 seconds with a 45-second rest. Repeat for a second and third set, aiming for greater power, height of jump, and speed with each subsequent set.

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