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Why Lateral Movement Workouts Are a Smart Move

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When you sign up for a workout with celebrity trainer Harley Pasternak, author of 5 Pounds: The Breakthrough 5-Day Plan to Jump-Start Rapid Weight Loss, you know you’re going to get your butt kicked. So when Pasternak recently led a class to help launch New Balance’s Vazee shoes, we were hardly surprised to see a piece of equipment we’d never tried before.

The Helix Lateral Trainer is similar to an elliptical machine—except instead of moving forward and back, you go side to side. That plane of motion is crucial to any workout routine, since, well, life requires you to move in all directions. “A lot of the weaknesses we have are based on a lack of lateral movement, which can set you up for injury,” says Pasternak. “When you exercise in multiple planes, you see improvements in balance, mobility, and function.”

But you don’t need a Helix trainer to get a good lateral workout. Try one of Pasternak’s top, equipment-free side-to-side moves. (And check out his tips for sculpting Jessica Simpson's legs, Halle Berry's arms, and Megan Fox's abs!)

Side-Shuffles

Head outside for a jog around the block. Walk or jog for one block. At the corner, turn and do side shuffles to the next corner. Walk or jog the next block, turn the corner, and then, for the last block, side shuffle in the opposite direction (this time, lead with your other foot).

Grapevines

In your backyard (or hallway, if you live in an apartment building), grapevine from one side to the other. If you’re starting from the left, step out with your right foot, and step your left foot behind. Step out again with your right foot, and then step your right foot in front and across. Repeat until you reach the other side and then reverse in the other direction. Start slow and build speed as you improve.

Lateral Lunges

Instead of always working your lower body with forward lunges, try mixing the side version into your routine, says Pasternak. Start doing the move as a bodyweight exercise, and when you improve, add in weights (check out this video of a dumbbell side lunge). Work up to 20 reps on each side.

Step Across

Start on the left side of a weight bench. Put your right foot on the bench and press up, bringing your left foot behind you and across to the right side of the bench. Work up to 20 reps on each side.