Running, walking, cycling, swimming, and rowing all have one thing in common: They involve getting from point A to point B in a forward direction. As such, when most people hit the gym to train, they focus on forward and backward motions. However, this can create muscle imbalances and neglect critical stabilizing muscles, increasing the risk of injury and limiting overall performance potential.
Lateral training involves side-to-side exercises and is an important—yet often overlooked—component of a well-rounded training program. To learn more about lateral training and slide boards, we spoke to Jimmy Martin, the co-founder of Brrrn, the company behind the . He filled us in on why you should be incorporating lateral training into your primary workouts and how to get started.
“Lateral training (aka. side-to-side movement) is a form of exercise and rehabilitation focused on moving the body in the frontal plane to activate your smaller, stabilizing muscles,” explains Martin. He claims that working these smaller muscles via lateral training helps them properly support your bigger muscle groups. This ultimately helps you move better and with less pain in the long run.
Because most of our movements and attention are directed forward both in fitness and life, many workout programs and exercises overlook lateral (side-to-side) motions. However, Martin cautions against this and encourages everyone—from competitive athletes to anyone just trying to stay in shape—to train your body in all directions. “A stronger and well-balanced body is one that trains in all directions,” he notes. “Lateral exercises bring attention to our stabilizer muscles—our inner and outer thighs, and glutes—to help create more balanced, coordinated movements to make us stronger, all while improving our flexibility and preventing injury.”
One of the primary tools for lateral training is a slide board, which is a thin, slick board that is used with special, smooth booties to eliminate friction. This creates an environment somewhat like ice. The slide board has bumpers on either end so that various exercises like speed skating side to side can be performed. While there are many inferior slide boards, as the awareness about the importance of lateral training has grown, forward-thinking companies have cropped up to focus exclusively on engineering safe and effective slide boards.
The Brrrn Board is the brainchild of the industry leader in the lateral training space and is safer, more portable, and extremely well constructed. “The Brrrn Board is a head-to-toe piece of equipment that promotes instability as a way to become in better control of how your body moves in space,” explains Martin, who says the Brrrn Board is used as a cross-training tool by athletes across all sports for decades, including celebrated U.S. winter athlete and Brrrn investor, Apolo Ohno.
“The Brrrn Board offers a form of low-impact cardio that improves core strength and posture while toning and tightening glutes and thighs,” says Martin. “It is a perfect training tool for fitness enthusiasts looking to hone in on key skills and target muscles that aren’t typically activated through most
Slide boards are foreign to many gym users, but familiarizing yourself with this valuable tool will add variety into your workouts. There are also specific guided slide board workouts for competitive athletes and novices alike to learn what exercises to do and how to do them. For example, the Brrrn board has an entire streaming subscription with hundreds of slide board workouts for every level, so you can stay challenged and engaged.
“Most of our customers enjoy the sliding movements since it offers an incredibly fun and challenging way to do low-impact cardio through sliding across the board. You can train your core on the Brrrn Board through a variety of movements including pikes, mountain climbers, knee tucks, and ‘brrrpees’,” says Martin. “By placing our slide mittens on your hands, you can do sliding pushups and inchworms (modified or strict) to sculpt your upper body.”
Ideally, lateral training should be incorporated into all of your workouts to some extent, regardless of your age or fitness experience. Because athletes following specific training programs are more apt to use lateral movements and quick direction changes in action, the workout routines of competitive athletes often already include some lateral training, though more emphasis is often a good idea.
That said, lateral training is actually equally important for recreational exercisers and older adults. “It’s a great tool to keep you mobile as you age. It strengthens your core to help with your posture and the muscles on the inside and outside of your legs, which can help better stabilize your hips and pelvis—which helps improve balance and proprioception,” explains Martin. Like other forms of training—core training, balance work, strength training, etc.—some form of lateral training should be a component of your workout but variety is key; some days, lateral training can be the focus, while other days, it can be more nuanced. Similarly, some workouts may involve lateral cardio exercises on a slide board, whereas others can involve lateral strength exercises like side lunges.
According to Martin, the biggest risk surrounding lateral training is simply omitting to do it because it doesn’t get the attention it deserves and many people aren’t even aware they should be focusing on side-to-side exercises. Martin says this can build crucial muscle strength and stabilization to prevent joint injuries and excessive, damaging joint loads. “Almost one million hip and knee replacement surgeries are performed in the U.S. annually, but placing focus on movements that address the strength and stabilization of the muscles that are worked on a Brrrn Board can greatly improve your ankle, knee, and hip mobility, as well as better the health of your entire body for the entirety of your life.”
Lateral training is not only an important, injury-preventing component of fitness, but it’s also a great way to add fun and variety into your workouts. “Life is about being prepared to move in any direction and our Brrrn Board is emblematic of that. We’ve reimagined a revered training tool for athletes by providing an incredibly fun, challenging, and accessible way to enjoy a low-impact cardio experience that can also help you improve your core strength and tone your lower body without the risk of joint pain or injury,” shares Martin. Sounds like a winning combination.
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