By Tony Gracia, Head Coach and Co-Founder at Industrial Strength.
This series of articles will highlight fifteen of my favorite exercises that I think are awesome and do not get the appreciation they deserve. The first week of installments focused on major lower body strength developers, the second week on upper body strength movements, the third week on unilateral lower body strength exercises, and this week will emphasize various functional strength and athletic development exercises.
UNDERRATED EXERCISE #12 = Lateral Deadlifts
One area of “low hanging fruit” that is available for most people is to include more exercises in their training that are not in the sagittal plane (meaning are not performed straight front-to-back). Moving in the frontal plane (e.g. moving side-to-side) is a great way to include new patterns into your training, strengthen under-developed and/or neglected muscle groups, and to familiarize your body with moving in different directions. Additionally, nearly all sports and athletic events have significant components of multi-directional movement, meaning if all you ever do is train front-to-back then you are leaving a lot on the table as far as your athleticism goes. That is not to say you should throw out all your sagittal plane movements (that would be dumb), but just try to include a few movements here and that in other planes of motion.
One exercise we have been including in our programs more at Industrial Strength is something similar to a lateral lunge except instead of having one knee straight and the other knee being the only one bending, we coach it to bend both knees equally (it should actually look almost identical to the position of a kettlebell swing). We have been calling these “lateral deadlifts.” One benefit we love about these are that they hit some important muscle groups on both legs & hips, rather than predominantly one side. What you will find is that your trailing leg really has to recruit your gluts (especially glut-med) to help drive you towards the center line, and the lead leg will really have to recruit your adductors (groin muscles) to help pull you to the mid-line. I love this combination because both of these muscle groups tend to be under-developed and/or injury prone, so you can essentially check both boxes with one exercise here.
HOW TO DO THEM
- You can view a short demonstration of this exercise here
- Stand tall with your feet together, then with your left foot take a step sideways directly to your left; as you land, allow yourself to drop smoothly into a hinge position, the same as if you were going to do a kettlebell swing (your torso should be centered between your legs and each leg should have the same amount of bend)
- To stand back up, keep your left foot glued in place and only move your right foot – you should finish with your feet hip width or closer on each rep
- You will need to “push the floor away” with your right foot, which will recruit your gluts
- You will also need to “pull yourself in” with your left leg, which will activate your adductors / groin muscles
- At the top of each rep stand up tall and squeeze your gluts; don’t forget your feet should be hip with or narrower
- One crucial point is that as you are standing up from the bottom, you need to stand up and bring your feet together / shift your weight AT THE SAME TIME. If you stand up first, then bring your feet together as a separate movement, you are totally missing the point of the exercise. Remember, the idea is to create force to drive laterally, not just upwards
- For many people using only their own bodyweight will be easy. To add weight, two options are:
- One kettlebell, held with two hands (like a deadlift)
- One kettlebell, held with one hand, preferably on the trailing side – this will add an element of anti-rotation to the exercise. If you choose to do this version, make sure your shoulders are square at all times and you are moving as if you were using both hands … if you start to get all twisted up then you are missing the benefit of the drill
- I recommend sets of 10-20 reps per side