Get up from your chair. Walk over to something a few yards away and walk back. How many directions did you just move in? You stood up, probably rotated a little bit. Walked forward and then turned around, maybe side-stepped an obstacle. Then you sat back down. Now think back to the last time you were in the gym. Chances are you squatted a little bit, pressed a little bit, maybe did some pull-ups. Maybe you ran forwards. Backwards perhaps or by miracle side to side lunges?
If our daily activities consist of multi directional movements, why do our sessions in the gym strictly involve basic movement patterns?
Adding in a variety of movement planes to your training will help you become a better athlete and functioning human being.
Here are 3 simple ways to improve your strength, stability and fix imbalances by performing functional friendly movements in different ways:
1) Forward Forward is common in workout routines. Lunges, box jumps and running are the common movements that you might do in a workout. Since moving forward is something that you probably already do, we can combine forward with rotational movements to make them tougher and allow stability and ROM improvements. For example, try lunging forward while rotating a medicine ball from your front leg hip to the other hip in an arc pattern as you step forward with elbows locked out. If a medicine ball is too easy, you can always try holding a 25lbs. plate or an olympic barbell. I’ve seen someone do these while holding a 135lbs. barbell with their arms locked. That’s beefcake functional!
2) Backward is common and uncommon in workout routines. Jumping the feet back on a burpee can be considered backward motion but is not that difficult. Reverse lunges while holding a barbell overhead is pretty tough to do but extremely beneficial if done correctly at improving stability through your hips, torso and shoulders. You can also combine them like above, doing backward lunges with rotation.
3) Side to Side Side to side is easy to accomplish as well and do not feel that you have to do these with light weight. Lateral front squats are a great way to get stronger both on the front squat movement and in the frontal plane. Next time you try front squatting, instead of getting into your stance and then performing the movement, start with a narrow stance, take a slight step to the side with your left foot and immediately descend into a perfect looking front squat. As you come up, bring your right foot with you and end up with your feet narrow, about 18 inches to the left of where you just started. Do 3-6 reps to the left, then 3-6 reps to the right. Make sure each squat looks perfect and do not let your knees cave in.
Above I listed 3 simple movements that you can easily add in to a warm-up, strength portion or workout routine the next time you go into the gym. These movements will help target some new planes of motion that you might not be used to (frontal and transverse plane). However, we do not have to be limited to straight lines forward, backward, side to side, up and down. Stay tuned for movements that fall in-between these definitions as well as videos describing these movements.