Grooving Movement, Side to Side

By Diane Vives – July 1, 2013

One of the best ways to ensure that your body can adapt to higher levels of training and to maximize your potential is by being a versatile athlete. Focusing on multidirectional movement in your exercise program is a great way to accomplish this, so this column focuses on side-to-side (or frontal plane) movement. This is often a neglected plane of motion but is very important for changing direction as well as keeping forward movement on track through guiding (or stabilizing). Having full function of all three planes of motion at any given time creates a competitive edge, whether your goal is performing well in a sport or achieving a weight loss goal.

One of the important aspects to understand is that side-to-side movements, as well as rotational movements, are the culprits for many sports and fitness injuries. If you are injured and not on the field or in your favorite group training class, you are probably not moving in a positive direction toward your goals. I’ve shared three movements here; these side-to-side motions will give you functional strength that focuses on lower, upper, and total body movement, as well as help build your exercise menu for working the frontal plane.

Overhead Side Lunge with ViPR

  • Start in a hip-width stance with a tall posture, arms completely extended and the ViPR held overhead.
  • Brace the core and take a breath in before lunging to the side, placing the foot flat with toes pointing forward and sitting back into the hip on the lunging side. Remain vertical in a tall posture; nothing in the upper body position should change.
  • Push off the heel of the lunging foot and extend the ankle, knee, and hip to return to the start position.

Tweak Down: Perform the movement with body weight, holding arms overhead.
Tweak Up: There is no tweak up, as this is the advanced move; simply focus on mastering smooth, controlled execution.

Sideways Crawl

  • Start in a plank position, with hands under the shoulders and feet placed shoulder-width apart.
  • Reach the right hand under the fixed position of the left arm while extending the right foot under the left leg at the same time.
  • As you move sideways, shift your weight to the right arm and right leg while maintaining a level torso. Repeat the movement 5-10 times.
  • Reverse sideways direction, coming back leading with the left arm and leg to return to the start position. Repeat the movement 5-10 times.
  • Be sure to keep head and neck in a neutral position by keeping them level with the torso.
  • Continue to alternate sides.

Tweak Down: Use single side-to-side repetitions, moving right and then back left on an elevated surface such as a box or fixed bench.
Tweak Up: Use a weighted vest to externally load the body.

Side Lunge with Side Scoop using ViPR

  • Start in a tall standing posture, feet hip-width apart and the ViPR in front of the body in a horizontal, hip carry position.
  • Grip the ViPR with one hand on the inside handle and the other hand on the open end.
  • Step out into the side lunge position while maintaining an upright torso position and performing a side scoop motion. Be sure to extend the trailing leg on the lunge while keeping that foot flat as well.
  • The lower body should sit back into the hip, with the foot flat and facing forward, while the upper arm finishes the motion parallel with the ground.
  • Although there is a slight rotation of the torso to finish, the movement should be minimal (it is sufficient to load the body and movement in the frontal plane).

Tweak Down: Perform the movement with body weight.
Tweak Up: This is an advanced version. You may alternate left and right side repetitions to add additional challenge.

Building your functional movements in the frontal plane (or side-to-side) will definitely enhance your abilities as a versatile and efficient athlete. And building better movement will definitely speed up the momentum on your way to your specific goals. Move better, and move often!

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