Take your workout in a different direction. In the gym, we often train movements going forward and backward. Moving in real life requires us to move side to side.  Try this lateral metabolic sequence in strengthening your legs and lower body’s outer- and inner-thigh muscles.

This may prepare you for sudden, lateral movements in your life such as in recreational sports like skiing and tennis and doing housework and daily errands. Lateral strength also plays an important role in stabilizing forward movements in walking, running, and going up and down flights of stairs, and even bowling. Balance your exercises in enhancing everyday performance and preventing injury.

Warm-Up

Ankle Rotation

  • Stand tall and shift your weight to your left leg as you bend your right knee to lift your right foot off the ground.
  • Gently rotate your foot for 30 seconds clockwise and 30 to 45 seconds counterclockwise.
  • Return to the starting position, shift your weight to your right leg and repeat on the other side.
  • Perform one set.

Side-Extended Angle

  • Start in a wide-legged stance with your left toes pointing forward and your right foot turned out.
  • Place your right elbow on the base of your right thigh, bend your right knee, and lift your left arm up and over your left ear, palm facing down as you reach over to your right.
  • Press into your left heel and lengthen through your left arm, reaching from your left heel through your left middle finger.
  • Press down through both feet, straighten your right knee and lift your left arm overhead as you return to the starting position.
  • Turn your left leg out and your right foot to point forward. Bend your left knee and place your left elbow on the base of your left thigh, lifting your right arm up and over your right ear, palm facing down.
  • Reach from your right heel through your right middle finger.
  • Press down through both feet, straighten your left knee, and lift your right arm up and overhead to return to the starting position.
  • Alternate sides for one set of 30 to 45 seconds.

Workout

  • Perform exercises 1 to 4 consecutively for one circuit.
  • Rest one to two minutes in between each circuit.
  • Repeat for three to four circuits.

Prone Leg Kick

  • Begin in a high-plank position with your shoulders stacked over your wrists and elbows, engaging your core so that you form a strong, straight line from head to heels.
  • Lift your right foot off the ground and kick it under your left leg as you lower your right hip to tap the ground.
  • Lift your right hip and bring your right leg back to the starting position.
  • Repeat with your left leg.
  • Continue, alternating legs, for 10 reps.

Lateral Lunge

  • Begin standing with your feet under your hips. Step directly to your right while keeping your left foot pressed into the ground.
  • As your right foot hits the ground, push your right hip back toward the wall behind you.
  • Return to standing by pushing your right foot into the ground and pulling with the inner-thigh muscles of your left leg.
  • Repeat for 10 reps on your right leg.
  • Repeat on the opposite leg for 10 reps.

Jumping Jack

  • Stand tall with your arms at your sides and feet hip-width apart.
  • Sweep your arms out and overhead as you jump your feet outside your hips.
  • Sweep your arms down to your sides as you jump your feet back to start.
  • Continue jumping for 60 seconds.

Shuffle Change of Direction

  • Start in an athletic-ready stance, feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent.
  • Step out to your right and quickly bring your left foot to meet your right, repeating for about 5 yards.
  • Step out to your left and quickly bring your right foot to meet your left, repeating to return to your starting spot.
  • Continue for 60 seconds.
  • Tip: Crouch low as you shuffle for more of a cardiovascular challenge.

Cool-Down

Seated Twist Hold

  • Sit tall on the floor with your legs extended in front of you, kneecaps and toes pointing to the ceiling.
  • Place your palms flat on the floor outside your hips with your fingertips pointing forward. Press your hands into the floor, lift your sternum up and soften your shoulders.
  • Keeping your left leg straight, bend your right knee and place your right foot outside your left knee.
  • Extend your left arm to the ceiling, then bend it and twist your torso to place your left elbow outside your right knee.
  • Don’t force the twist; inhale and lengthen and rotate farther.
  • Raise your left arm to release the twist and return your left hand to the floor. Hold for 30 seconds.
  • Extend your right leg, bend your left knee and repeat the twist on the other side and hold for 30 seconds.

Reclining Butterfly

  • Lie on the floor with your knees bent and your feet together.
  • Let your knees fall to either side as you bring the soles of your feet together.
  • Engage your core as you lengthen your spine and maintain a neutral pelvis, and allow your inner-thigh muscles to relax. Hold for one minute.

Photo credit: bluejayphoto, Getty Images
GIFs: Mark Kuroda, kurodastudios.com
Model: Jenn Nasab, 24 Hour Fitness