It probably doesn’t sound overly sexy, “lateral strength”. After all, I don’t think anyone has ever walked up to you in a gym, beach, or wherever and said, “psss, hey, what is your lateral strength like?!”
As “not made for social media” as a concept comes, lateral strength might be THE most important thing you can do to improve your functional strength and overall performance. Don’t worry, it can be cool, REALLY?!
Leading spine expert, Dr. Stuart McGill has stated, “we found that quadratus and the abdominal wall were challenged to create this unique but essential athleticism.” What was Dr. McGill referring to? The fact that really out lateral strength is key in every day activities and our ability to produce in the sporting environment. After all, “proximal stiffness enhances distal mobility and athleticism”.
In order to understand why lateral strength is so important let’s look at a real world example that Dr. McGill has shared.
“Consider a 340 pound NFL lineman, who is strength trained in the weight room on Olympic lifts and power cleans. His coaches believe he is well trained. Yet the athlete has back pain that limits training. Measuring his cutting speed – the ability to take 5 fast strides forward, plant a foot and cut to the right reveals his great weakness and strength imbalance. The pelvis drops on the swing leg side and the spine bends laterally. He reports a twinge of pain. All of his strength training has been performed with two legs on the ground. All of the pulls, lifts and presses never trained the core in 3-dimensions. The weak link is limiting his performance and causing stress and pain. Addressing this with loaded carrying exercises produced more lateral spine stiffness in his core. His pelvis and spine produce appropriate proximal stiffness (proximal to the hip joint) so that more velocity of all of the muscles that cross the hip joint works on the distal side of the joint resulting in faster leg speed. Further, the spine does not bend, the stress concentration at the joint is eliminated and the pain is gone. This example demonstrates that the hip muscles were limited by a weaker lateral core. Specifically, the gluteal muscles on the stance leg were confined by the lateral core muscles on the swing leg side of the body – in this case the lateral obliques and quadratus lumborum. Good training always addresses the elements that assist and potentiate one another throughout the body linkage. The core is home base for strength and speed.”
If that description was a bit confusing we can break it down like this….when you actually try to move in the real world, a lot of your performance is dictated upon your ability to transfer strength through your body’s natural chains. The big one is the lateral stability and strength you can control to help maintain the correct pelvic and core in order to transfer force through your legs and your arms for that matter.
These types are reasons that strength coaches “in the know” are using DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training to develop an edge in their athletes’ performance. A great example comes from DVRT certified coach & strength coach, Joel Gunterman. Being a former college soccer player and working with all types of athletes at Los Angeles Mission College, Joel realizes that getting his athletes to perform better and be more resilient is a must.
That is why he came up with a great DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training series that really focuses on the building of this lateral stability/strength that builds your body in all new ways. Check out his great work and see if you don’t find new ways of building your fitness and performance.
“– Step-Ups Right/Left x10
– Arc Press x10
During your arc presses, try and move the Ultimate Sandbag around your head without shift your weight during your press. You can see in the video that I slightly move my head and body when transferring the bag from right-to-left… Try and limit your body movement less then what I’m demonstrating. If you cannot press without shifting your body weight or head, try using a lighter Ultimate Sandbag.” Try to do as many rounds in 15 minutes as possible!
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