Regular squats are great but you can also switch them up. Find out how to do lateral squat walks and whether their benefits are worth it.
Lateral squat walks are a variation of regular squats where you do walk sideways in the bottom position instead of doing up-down repetitions.
By doing this you make the movement more of an isometric (static) exercise and work your outer and inner thigh muscles slightly more.
Additionally, it becomes harder to use a lot of extra weight.
An important thing to note is that isometric exercises like lateral squat walks tend to be less effective for muscle growth and strength progress.
In turn, lateral squat walks are mostly helpful for people who want to improve muscle endurance in their quadriceps (front thighs) and to some extent glutes and hamstrings.
Even for this purpose, there are more effective exercise alternatives.
How to do a lateral squat walk
Take the following steps to do a lateral squat walk:
- Stand upright with your feet about shoulder width apart.
- Slowly lower your body as far as comfortable by bending your knees. You can tilt your upper body forward for balance if needed.
- Stay at more or less the same height with your hips as you take a step sideways. At the widest, your feet will be slightly wider than shoulder width apart. Keep your thighs more or less above your feet in each step.
- Step sideways with your other leg towards the leg that just moved so that you are back in the position from step 1 but at a different spot.
- Do a few steps like this in the same direction.
- Move back in the opposite direction until you are back where you started.
The two main technique attention points of lateral squat walks are not caving your knees inward and keeping your spine more or less straight.
How low you want to go and stay with your body depends on your personal capacities.
Theoretically, you could do lateral squat walks faster to make it more of a cardiovascular exercise.
However, there are many better workout options for this purpose.
Muscles worked with lateral squat walks
The main muscles you work with lateral squat walks are your quadriceps (front thighs), erector spinae (lower back), glutes (butt), and hamstrings (back thighs).
Additionally, your hip abductors (outer thighs), hip adductors (inner thighs), and calves have to work a decent amount too.
The main things that are different from regular squats are that lateral squat walks engage most of the muscles in an isometric (static) way and the inner and outer thigh engagement.
It is important to note that static exercises are generally less effective than more dynamic ones for getting training results.
You can counteract this to some extent by adding extra resistance to lateral squat walks with squat equipment.
For example, by wearing a weighted vest, using resistance bands (both around your upper legs or behind your shoulders and feet), or carrying weights like dumbbells, a barbell, kettlebells, etc.
However, even these weighted lateral squat walks will not be the best for getting muscle-related benefits.
Lateral squat walk benefits
The things above still apply but it is also still fair to say that lateral squat walks can offer nice benefits over doing nothing.
Some examples include:
- Muscle endurance: Doing lateral squat walks can help improve muscle endurance in a few different areas. You could potentially even see some muscle growth.
- Balance and coordination: Lateral squat walks will require some amount of balance and coordination. By challenging yourself in these areas you can improve your skills.
- Can make daily activities easier: Improving the muscle endurance in your legs and lower back with lateral squat walks can make things like standing up and walking around easier.
- Flexibility and mobility: There are more challenging exercises but lateral squat walks can challenge your flexibility and mobility to some extent.
- Can improve athletic performance: In activities that require leg muscle engagement over longer amounts of time, the extra muscle endurance from lateral squat walks can come in handy.
Lateral squat walks are definitely not unique in these benefits but can be helpful anyway.
Lateral squat walk alternatives
By now you may want to know what these more effective lateral squat walk alternatives are. Some of these include:
- Other squat variations
- Weighted leg adductions
- Weighted leg abductions
- Bulgarian split squats
- Lying sideways leg raises
What muscles you want to work and what equipment you have available will influence what lateral squat walk alternatives are the best for you.
Are lateral squat walks a good exercise?
Lateral squat walks are a decent exercise to improve muscle endurance in your lower back and a variety of leg muscles.
That being said, this is generally not the most effective exercise either for a few reasons.
First of all, lateral squat walks are a static exercise. These are generally less effective than more dynamic ones.
Secondly, it is hard to do lateral squat walks with a lot of resistance which is often necessary to grow and strengthen the strong leg muscles.
In short, lateral squat walks will mostly be useful for improving leg and lower back muscle endurance.
Even if this is your fitness goal, you likely want to turn to more effective exercises unless you really like doing lateral squat walks.
What is a lateral squat walk?
A lateral squat walk is a squat variation where you walk sideways while you stay at the height of the bottom of the squat movement.