Advantages of Lateral Workouts: Why Your Subsequent Exercise Ought to Embrace Lateral Actions


Reality: Many must-do exercises, like squats, lunges, deadlifts, and presses, involve forward and backward movements. But incorporating lateral exercises—essentially side-to-side movements—into your workout routine is also very important.

Lateral Movements Are Incredibly Beneficial For Everyday Life, Certified Personal Trainer Francine Delgado-LugoCPT, movement and strength coach and co-founder of Form Fitness Brooklyn, says SELF. The more lateral exercises you incorporate into your routine, the better you’ll move and feel overall, she explains.

With that in mind, Delgado-Lugo created the five-move total body workout below for SELF that relies on lateral exercises. It is ideal for developing well-balanced functional strength and easily adapts to different fitness levels. But before we dive into those details, let’s discuss what lateral exercises are, their benefits, and how you can add them to your exercise routine. Keep scrolling for everything you need to know, then get ready to seriously strengthen your entire body with Delgado-Lugo’s awesome routine.

What are side exercises?

Lateral exercises are exercises where you move from side to side or where you use your muscles laterally, explains Delgado-Lugo. Examples of lateral exercises include dashing to the side, raising arms to the side, and rolling to the side.

Lateral exercises occur in the frontal plane of motion, which is one of the three planes of motion. The other two planes of motion include the sagittal plane, which incorporates forward and backward motion (think: walking, running, squatting, and pressing), and the transverse plane, which involves rotating or twisting (as with a bicycle crunch or a mountaineer’s twist). ).

What are the benefits of lateral exercises?

There are a ton of benefits to lateral exercises that make them a worthwhile addition to your routine. Lateral movement can help support balance and rotation as well as help you resist impact forces. The latter is partly because lateral exercises strengthen muscles that lengthen and shorten in the lateral direction, Delgado-Lugo explains. For this reason, lateral exercise plays an important role in injury prevention. For example, being strong laterally can increase your chances of staying upright if you slip on the ice. It can also better protect your knees and hips when a dog eagerly lunges at your legs, says Delgado-Lugo.

In addition, the body is designed to move all planes of motion, which is why exercising and strengthening your muscles in all planes of motion is also vital. Most of us spend a lot of time in the sagittal plane both in everyday life and also in our workouts. But by intentionally incorporating all three planes of motion into our routines, our bodies will be able to move more safely and efficiently in almost any scenario.

How can you add lateral exercises to your routine?

Ideally, more of your workouts should incorporate movement across multiple planes of motion (which includes the frontal plane), says Delgado-Lugo.

That said, most of us could bear to incorporate side work more specifically, so it might also be a good idea to occasionally do workouts that focus primarily on side-to-side exercises. The five-movement workout below ticks that box, while also incorporating doses of movement in the transverse and sagittal planes.

Delgado-Lupo suggests adding this circuit to your routine about once a week. As with any workout, just be sure to do a warm-up first – here are five pre-workout stretches you can try. Keep scrolling for an amazing side workout you’ll want to add to your weekly routine.


What do you need: One pair of light dumbbells (3 to 8 pounds) and one pair of medium to heavy dumbbells (10 to 20 pounds). Of course, the “right” weight varies for each person, but you can use this range recommendation as a starting point! You’ll know your chosen weight is too heavy if you get gassed before you hit the recommended minimum number of reps, or if your form starts to falter before you get there. On the other hand, you can probably go further if you still have a few reps in the tank after hitting the recommended rep max. (Here are some good dumbbell recommendations.)


  • Side plank walk
  • side slit
  • The skater jumps to the ground
  • Rainbow plank on the forearm
  • Side elevation


  • Perform each movement for the number of repetitions indicated below. Rest minimally between moves (of course, take breaks if your form starts to falter or you feel like you can’t catch your breath).
  • After performing all five movements, rest 60 to 90 seconds, then repeat the circuit. Complete 3 to 4 rounds in total.

Demonstration of the movements below are Cookie Janee (GIFs 1-2, 4), background investigator and security force specialist in the Air Force Reserve; and Heather Boddy (GIF 3 and 5), group fitness instructor and creator of the Geeknasium training program.

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