We all spend a lot of our time moving in a forward direction, whether that’s in general life (think about sitting at a computer, pushing a trolley around the supermarket etc) or during exercise (walking, running or cycling etc).

Known as ‘linear movement’ this is mainly due to our natural instinct (we lead with our eyes first) and our circumstances.

But it’s certainly advantageous to be functional and able to move well on all planes of movement, as it will help with mobility long term, which is why lateral movements (moving sideways) can be really beneficial.  

So why should you go sideways?

  • Moving laterally can help prevent injuries. By constantly using the same muscle groups your dominant muscles are being worked, developed and put under stress, but as a result of repeating the same types of exercises, you’re not working the supporting muscles, which become weaker and at greater risk of injury in comparison.
  • You can become leaner. Using those different muscles by moving laterally means you can build more muscle and shape and define your body.
  • Variety is the spice of life. It can add some variety to your workouts and keep you motivated and dedicated to regular physical activity.

What counts as lateral exercise?

Some great and simple options you can quickly add into your workouts, whether in the gym or at home, include:

  • Lateral lunges (the classic, but instead of forward or backwards, step to the left and the right)
  • Star jumps (you might know these better as jumping jacks?)
  • Lateral bear crawls (in a crawling stance, lift your knees off the ground and put your weight through your hands and toes, move your feet and hands sideways to travel across your workout space, go on one direction first and then return)
  • Side-step shuffles (four or five side steps to the right, followed by the same to the left – think cha cha slide, and speed it up if you can)
  • Lateral planks (from your traditional plank position, keep your balance as you move across to the left, and then to the right to return to your starting position)

The Contours teams across all five of North Tyneside’s leisure centres can help you with your exercise programmes. This is included in the comprehensive induction programme when members first join, but our teams are always ready and available to help anyone on the gym floor out with mixing up their training routines. If you need any help, chat to one of the team members next time you’re on site. You can get a one day free pass at one of our Contours gyms here.