These 4 Lateral Exercises Will Improve All-Around Power and Strength

Our bodies are three-dimensional (3-D) movement machines, yet some gymgoers don’t tap into the potential of our 3-D movement. But what is 3-D movement and what does this have to do with lateral exercises? Let gets nerdy for a hot minute.

The human body has three planes of motion: the sagittal plane, which separates the left and right sides of the body. Exercise examples are the powerlifting big 3. This plane is where most strength and muscle gains happen. The transverse plane: separates the upper and lower halves of your body and involves all things rotation. All the spin moves on the basketball court and football field happens in the transverse plane.

Last and not least, this article’s subject is the frontal plane, which separates the front and back of the body. Think of cutting the body in half (anterior and posterior) from the side on, and you’ll get a picture of the frontal plane. The best-known frontal lateral exercises are side lunges and lateral raises.

This article will go into the benefits of training in the lateral (frontal) plane and four lateral exercises to incorporate to improve your power, movement, and strength so you, too, can be a 3D movement machine.


Although most of your strength and muscle gains happen in the sagittal plane, it pays to train in the frontal plane. Your muscle fibers don’t run up and down but in all directions. And training them from a variety of angles leads to better muscle and strength development.

  • Reduced Injury Risk: Lifting and exercising in the lateral plane ensures you’re not creating muscular imbalances. If you spend all your time in the sagittal plane, how will your body react when you have to move laterally? It’s not like you’re going to pull a muscle, but you are less likely to get hurt when you are strong in all planes of motion, not just one.

For example, training the adductors with the landmine Cossack squat will better prevent groin strains. A review published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine in 2015 concluded that a lack of hip adductor strength was one of the most common risk factors for groin injury in sports.

  • Improved Movement: If your sport or activities of daily living involve moving side to side, then training in the lateral plane will only enhance this. When you strengthen your side-to-side movement, you will increase your stability going forwards and backward.
  • Added Variety Decreases Training Boredom: Being consistent with your big lifts is required for gains, but that doesn’t mean you cannot add a little variety to your accessory training. Training in the frontal plane will improve muscle development and help keep your mind and body fresh. And the added challenge of moving in a different direction will also help improve your training focus.
  • More Lateral Strength Equals More Weight on the Barbell: Your lateral(frontal) plane strength may help you add weight to your compound lifts. Your body needs to stay ridged while performing heavy compound lifts, and with stronger lateral stabilizers, there will be fewer energy leaks. Fewer energy leaks lead to stronger and better-performed deadlifts and squats.

Male fitness model and bodybuilder working out his latissimus dorsi with a pendlay row exercise

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There’s more to the frontal plane than endless sets of side lunges and lateral raises. Although they’re both good exercises with plenty of benefits, here are four other lateral exercises to consider.

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