Lateral squats have significant benefits. Here’s how to do them.

Lateral squats have significant benefits. Here’s how to do them.

Lateral squats, a functional exercise, primarily target your gluteus medius (the sides glutes) and the quads. They are also a great complement to other lower-body movements like regular squats or lunge variations.

The beauty of this single-leg variation is that it promotes lateral (side) movement in the body for enhanced mobility, better stability–particularly in each leg when performing lateral squats–and builds on your lower-body strength. You can also use your core for lateral squats!

You can increase your confidence with the movement by adding weights to the exercise or moving between lunge variations. This will give you more cardio and balance challenges and a challenge for the upper body.

Below, our experts provide a step-by-step guide for perfecting your lateral squats.

MEET THE EXPERT

  • Laura Flynn Endres, a personal trainer and founder of the online fitness game Get Fit Done, is.
  • Chad Walding is a doctor in physical therapy and a holistic coach for health and fitness.

What are Lateral Squats?

According to Laura Flynn Endres, personal trainer, lateral squats are a side-to-side motion. They also include a bend in the knee that allows you to sit into single-leg squats, and this is great for building power and balance in your legs.

Chad Walding (physical therapist and health coach) says that the lateral squat “is a good entry point to lateral-based strengthening training,” which is essential for bringing harmony and improving motor skills and individual athleticism. We walk in a linear, straight-line in modern society. But this is not how nature would move. Nature is not linear and flat. We can dramatically improve our functional ability by introducing variety to how we roll.

Side squat benefits include:

  • They look at variation rather than working in the sagittal plane. This improves movement capacity, balance and mobility.
  • They can be used to identify and fix unilateral imbalances where one side is weaker or tighter than another.

Byrdie Tip

Walding suggests that you always work the weaker leg first, then match the reps, sets and loads with your more muscular leg.

How to perform Lateral Squats

Our experts will guide you step-by-step on doing a lateral sit-up with the correct form.

Flynn Endres warns, “Be aware, they’re quite technical and require concentration at multiple points.”

  • Begin by standing straight up and then shift your weight to the right side.
  • Start by pushing your hips forward and hinge forward slightly. Next, bend your right knee and straighten the left. While your right foot can move slightly outward, your left foot remains firmly in place.
  • Bend your right knee and engage your core to sit in that position. Keep your chest up.
  • To ensure that the right leg is parallel to the ground, aim for it to be in the following post: The stretch is located in the inner thigh.
  • For 3-4 seconds, control the downward phase. Then push through your right heel and engage the glute to return to the starting position.

How to Modify

You can add support if the exercise seems too difficult. You can modify the activity by holding onto TRX handles, a bar, or any other firm support that allows you to reach your arms. Flynn Endres explains that this is particularly important because it is tough to push back from a lateral lunge. Support can allow for more motion than if you do the exercise without it.

However, if you are familiar with the side-squat, it might be time to increase the intensity. Walding says that you can make this move more challenging by placing a dumbbell, kettlebell, or a front rack weight on your side. This will allow you to hold the dumbbell or kettlebell in a goblet grip, allowing greater flexibility and core strength.

Variations

These variations can be used to increase or decrease the intensity of your workouts and jazz up your routine.

  • Assisted Lateral Sweat
  • Start small before moving into a deep lateral sit-up.
  • Modified Lateral Squat with Box
  • You can place a box near your bending leg and then do a lateral stretch while tapping your glutes to the chest. If you bend your right leg and tap your glutes onto the box, for example, do the following:
  • Weighted Lateral Squats
  • To increase resistance and difficulty, perform the movement holding a dumbbell/kil kettlebell at your chest in the goblet position. You can also weight the exercise by holding a dumbbell, kettlebell, or both in one hand. One on each side of your squatting leg. The other weight is in your left hand. This weight lowers towards the opposite foot while you squat, hinge, and squat simultaneously.
  • Moving Lateral Squats
  • Start with your legs straight out, with your hips apart. Next, proceed with your right leg. Keep the left leg still throughout the exercise. To bring your leg back into the starting position, press down on your right heel. This is an advanced variant.

Safety considerations

There are several safety concerns with any variation of the squat. Flynn Endres warns that there is a danger of getting “stuck” in the hole. This means you may not be able to push back into the correct form or position. This is particularly true for lateral squats. It’s hard to control both the descent and the return, so it’s not a good exercise choice for beginners.

You should be aware of common mistakes like the knee not tracking with your foot; the foot rolling outward, stressing your ankle; and leaning forward without a flat back. Flynn Endres recommends perfecting your squat, hinge, and lunge, allowing you to add lateral squats into your programming.

This movement can also be dangerous for those with knee or lower-back injuries. To warm the muscles, dynamically stretch your hip flexors and lower back.

The Final Takeaway

Lateral squats can be a great exercise to target the side muscles of your butt. They also help you balance and stabilize, increase strength in the lower body and improve your athletic skills. To avoid injury to the knees or lower back, form is essential. If you feel any pains in these areas, it is best not to do this exercise. You can make lateral squats easier by not bending too much or adding weights at the knee.

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