When I was in my early 20’s, I remember playing some wiffle ball with my Dad and my brother in the front yard. The ‘Ol Man was up to the plate and connected well on a nice gap shot to left center. I remember watching Dad’s “eye of the tiger” look on his face as he took off in a sprint; I think that’s what we was trying to do anyway! He looked more like the Tin Man from Wizard of Oz without the oil. He was running about as stiff legged as you could imagine. I wish I had video of that moment, because he’s never heard the end of it from me. He must’ve been 46 years old at the time, and my ‘Ol Man has done a pretty solid job of staying in shape…..
This may be our favorite lower body exercise for athletes of all kinds, and yes, that includes you. Bilateral exercises (both feet on the ground) are great, but they tend to lack some transfer to actual human and athletic movement. This exercise offers a lot to be gained in balance, stability, flexibility, and of course strength. When done correctly, this exercise not only hits the obvious, the hamstrings and the glutes, but it also hits the hip stabilizers, the feet, and the trunk. It’s hard to attribute my lack of hamstring injuries to one thing, but if I had to give credit to one thing, it would be because SLDLs are always part of our program.
The frontal plane is the forgotten plane of movement in most human’s training programs. The frontal plane is lateral, or side-to-side, movement patterns. Imagine a baseball pitcher, not training in this plane. Imagine a football or basketball player not training in this plane. It happens all the time. The 1/2 Rack Lateral Lunge offers a unilateral (one-sided) load. I really like this because it forces the body to turn on the stabilizers of the trunk and hip, and it’s very transferable to skills of daily living and sport. You’ll notice, if you don’t move well in this plane, that your adductors are very tight and you’ll struggle getting good depth in your lateral lunge; however, keep working at it and you’ll develop strong glutes, quads, and enhance your hip mobility.
Once again, the 1/2 rack position offers a lot of transfer to life activities that just make us better movers. The 1/2 Rack Reverse Lunge aids in better stride length and functional flexibility. Of course, this could also be attributed to the forward lunge, it’s more common movement cousin, but learning to move backwards is a lost art amongst all humans. Don’t believe me, ask your athlete to run as fast as he or she can backwards. More often than not, it’ll be painful to watch. We’re amazed at how many kids can’t run, much less shuffle backwards anymore. Reverse lunging not only strengthens the musculature in that movement pattern, particularly the glutes, but it also teaches, in a more controlled movement, the art of moving backwards.