Today we are taking a closer look on lateral walks and how to make them an effective exercise by using resistance bands. You might have stumbled upon other names for this exercise like side step or crab walks. Basically they are all the same movement.
Lateral walks are great to warm up your lower body for an intense workout or as a finisher at the end of your workout. With resistance bands you can make this exercise more challenging and get a better activation in your lower body muscles.
In this article we will show you how to perform lateral walks with resistance bands, how you can modify them and what the little tweaks are you have to focus on.
Lateral Walks With Resistance Band
Let’s first have a short look on what benefit resistance bands have over free weights and machines.
Band VS Weights & Machines
Lateral walks are a great warm up exercise and the resistance bands are simply a tool to get your muscles ready for some heavy work. A misconception is that the heavy work has to be done with weights or machines. This couldn’t be further from the truth if you use resistance bands the right way and know how to perform the exercises. Here are some advantages resistance bands have over weights and machines.
- Follow the natural strength curve of your muscle! The resistance of a band will always increase the more you stretch it and that’s also the natural strength curve of your muscle, having the most power in the full contraction. With weights, you often fatigue in the expanded part of your muscle without fully fatiguing the whole muscle.
- Stability, control & core! When you do exercises with a band, your body needs to hold the band in more than one direction so you will also work a lot on your stabilizing muscles and your core as well.
- Variations & Home Workout! You can not only do a warm up with bands, but there are exercises for your whole body which you can overload as good or better than with weights.
- Joint Friendly & Less Disbalances! When using a bar or machines you’re more fixed in your body position and put more stress on your joints while bands let you get in a more natural body position and prevent injuries.
There are also more reasons to favor resistance bands over traditional free weights or machines, like reducing the stress on your joints, getting more peak contraction, and many more. But we’re talking here about doing some lateral walks, so if you’re interested in background info about what benefits resistance bands give you in strength training and bodybuilding, check it out here.
How To Do Lateral Walks The Right Way
The best resistance bands for this exercise are mini loop bands. Since they have smaller loops you will get resistance more easily by stepping in the loop with both legs. Further below we will also show you how to perform lateral walks with regular loop bands in case you only want to have one set of bands at home.
The basic version of lateral walks will be with placing the mini bands around your ankles. The next step is getting into a quarter squat position to make sure you reach a good activation in your glutes and hamstring while performing this exercise. Make sure to keep this position throughout the whole set.
From here you will alternate taking one step to the right and the to the left. Make sure to keep your core activated while doing the walks and you raise your hands in front of you for better balance.
A great additional exercise are monster walks. I like to combine lateral and monster walks for my lower body warm up routine.
My personal most favorite routine goes like this:
- Take 4 monster walk steps forward and then 4 steps backwards – repeat that 5 times
- Straight after take 1 lateral steps to the right and the 1 to the left – repeat that 20 times
- Do those 2 cycles twice and your lower body will be ready for anything
Important Do’s & Don’ts!!!
There are some important tweaks you have to keep in mind while performing lateral walks to get the most out of them.
⓵ Keep Your Squat Position – this is the most important point in this exercise. I often see that people are way too upright when doing lateral walks. You will only get the muscle activation you’re looking for by crouching down.
⓶ Point Your Knees Outwards – Push your knees actively outwards. This is crucial for your knee health and will also help you with the right form for any squat movements.
⓷ Step Width – Take wide steps to really feel the resistance of the band. This way you make sure to activate the muscles in your lower body.
Breath – I shouldn’t be telling you this but it actually quite easy to forget. This is mostly a warm up exercise so you don’t have to brace. Keep your breath steady and take big breaths in and out.
Alternative Ways To Lateral Walks With Resistance Bands
There are always alternative variations to every exercise out there. Following you will find versions which are harder and ones which are easier that the version shown above. Try them out and incorporate them in your warm up or finisher routine.
Band Around Your Knees – By placing the mini band around your knees you will be making the lateral walks slightly easier. Another benefit is that which version will enforce the right position of your knees since you will be forced to push your knees outwards to work against the tension of the band. This will teach you the right position your knees should be in, while squatting or crouching down.
Double Bands – A way to make lateral walks harder is simply by adding more bands to the exercise. The version I like the most is putting one band around your ankles and one around your knees. This will add tension and force you to keep those knees in the right position.
Lateral Walk Squats – A great way to make lateral more challenging is adding a body weight squat every time you do a side step. The bands will provide additional tension and the squat more activation of your lower body. A great combination to add to your cardio or HIIT workout.
Regular Loop Version – In case you don’t have any mini bands at hand you can also perform lateral walks with regular loop resistance bands. Step on the band with both feet. Cross the loop in front of you and lock it with your hands around hip level. All other steps stay the same.
Add More Resistance To Lateral Walks
There are 3 possibilities to add more band tension to your lateral walks, and they are pretty straight forward.
- Grab a band with a higher tension.
- Double time – Combine two bands together.
- And if you’re only missing a tiny bit of resistance, take the band and wrap it around one of your legs or feet before stepping in with the other.
Time Under Tension – compared to weights where you have the same force applied to any position of the movement, bands will add more resistance the further you stretch them – this will lower the time under tension your muscle has during a set in the starting position. Focus on doing the exercise controlled and try to hold it for a second or two in the fully contracted position and don’t let the band snap back but slowly go back to the starting position.
Lateral walks are great as a warm up or a finisher for your lower body workout, but they are not enough to really progress. We offer you a full and individual workout plan to help you to reach your goals. Simply take the quiz right here and get your free workout plan with even more tips to get the best out of training with resistance bands.