We keep hearing that if you want strong legs you have to barbell back squat. This is one of my favorite examples of what is known as “gym science”. Meaning, an idea that gets promoted heavily through many gyms, but isn’t based on any actual science, just what people THINK is true.
Science has continually shown that when we are using more one leg and moving with direction we actually build greater strength, stability, and mobility. So, why do people not value THESE types of squat movements? Well, they are more difficult, you can’t use as much weight (hard to go “beast mode” online) and most importantly we don’t have great progressions that help people learn how to perform these movements.
For example, one of the most important squat drills to work upon is the lateral squat. The frontal plane movement helps build great strength, works often underused muscles like the glute medius, connects the lateral chain of the body, and works a direction that we need but often don’t focus upon in our training.
By manipulating holding position, we can make the lateral squat a lot more possible for people to benefit from. The load of the Ultimate Sandbag actually helps give feedback upon the body to create stability for more mobility in the lower body.
These progressions of the lateral squat help also build stability of the chain up the foot, to the knee, to hip, and low back. The better we can move in these squat progressions, the greater benefit to many different goals we can achieve. Yes, that even means improving our bilateral squats!
Lateral strength training does just make our squat drills better, but as physical therapist, Jessica Bento helps me show, we can make building up our lateral strength into an entire dynamic total body workout.
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