Leg Power and Lateral Movement
Most standard workouts involve an element of motion that brings the body forward and backward along a central plane. From lunges to push-ups to running place, this is how the human body moves most of the time, so this is the pattern that most workouts and sports performance drills tend to follow. But while a forward-backward orientation strengthens the muscles groups that control forward-backward motion and balance, it’s also a good idea to pay some attention to lateral movement as well.
Running, lunges, kicks, and knee lifts strengthen the glutes and hamstrings, but a workout based on lateral movement will add dimension to the supporting muscle groups that help these areas stay strong. Lateral movement can also help the body develop the balance and coordination necessary to stay agile and move confidently in all directions. By building reflexes, resilience and agility, a workout based on lateral movement can even protect the body from injury and speed our ability to bounce back from hits and falls.
With the benefits of a lateral movement in mind, the video workout below will demonstrate how the Kbands can add challenge and value to exercises that shift the body from side to side. Follow along as the Kbands trainers move through a series of speed skaters and up-and-unders using the added resistance of the leg bands.
Lateral Movement Workouts: Attaching the Kbands
These exercises can challenge an athlete’s sense of balance and coordination even without the Kbands in place, but when the straps are attached to the upper legs and the Kbands resistance band has been clipped to the straps, the movements place strong pressure on the hip flexors, leg abductors and lower core. The bands also alter an athlete’s side-to-side mobility and greatly increase the difficulty of a simple lateral movement.
Athletes and general fitness users should expect to feel a strong burn in the hips, outer thighs and glutes during these exercises. Regular repetition of these lateral movements will tone and tighten these areas in addition to building stability, strength, and balance.
Lateral Movement Workouts: Speed Skaters
Once the bands are in place, athletes should find an area of open floor space, stand to the left side, and bend slightly at the knees with the feet a little wider than shoulder width apart. While staying balanced, they should then leap to the right side, landing softly on the right foot. The left foot should hook lightly behind the right leg for a single moment, just long enough for the body to establish balance after landing. Then the athlete should jump back again toward the left side.
Since the value of this exercise lies in the force of the lateral movement and the resistance of the Kbands, athletes should make sure the pressure of the jump and landing are concentrated in the hips and outer legs. So the jump should be wide, and the landing should be controlled. Bending the arms at the elbow can help the body stay balanced and centered. But athletes should be careful not to let the stride of the exercise narrow down. Each leap should cover a large amount of floor space. To gain the maximum benefits of the lateral movement, the leap should be wide and strong, and the bands should be fully stretched at each repetition. This move should be repeated at a rapid pace as many times as possible for ten full seconds, followed by a 30 second break.
Lateral Movement Workouts: Up and Unders
The next exercise in the lateral movement workout is called the up-and-under, and like the speed skater, this motion is designed to tax the muscles of the hips, glutes and outer legs. To complete this move, the viewer should stand with the Kbands in place and the feet spaced about shoulder width apart. Then the user should step widely to the left with the left foot and drop low to the ground by bending at the knees and hips. With the arms held forward for balance, the torso should drop down from the right side and rise up on the left side as if the head is moving under a low obstacle, like a pole.
This lateral movement, like the speed skater, will require balance and control as well as speed. To gain the maximum benefit of the move, the side-to-side stride should be as wide as possible. At each move, the Kbands should be fully stretched, and after a few reps, the muscles of the outer legs should be burning.
Like the speed skaters, the up-and-unders should be repeated as many times as possible in a ten second set. With short breaks in between each set, the entire workout should be repeated for four total sets. Since this move is challenging to both muscle strength and endurance, viewers may want to begin with two sets at a time and work their way up as strength and lateral mobility improve.
Lateral Movement Workouts: Final Notes
As with most resistance training exercises, these lateral movements should be measured by time, not reps. As athletes gain balance and coordination, the number of moves completed in a ten second period will increase, but control and technique should always come before speed. And of course, these exercises will bring faster results if they’re paired with a healthy lifestyle, adequate nutrition, plenty of water, and plenty of sleep.
For more information about how lateral movement workouts can improve sports performance and general fitness, visit the Kbands website at Kbands Training.com. Explore the resources on the site for weight loss guidance, more video workouts like this one, and sports-specific training tips. The site also provides more information about the benefits of suspension and resistance training using the Kbands equipment, including the Kbands leg bands as well as the KB Powerbands and the KB Duo. Kbands make use of simple physics and biomechanics to increase the challenge of any workout. Athletes and workout beginners can use the bands to target specific muscle groups, shape the body, and improve performance in any sport.