Strength and agility are the magic combo when it comes to sports training, and finding the proper moves that build strong muscles and endurance, while also boosting power and speed, is crucial. Take a runner who wants to PR. Strength training will increase her power and improve her stride to be a more efficient, and, therefore, faster, runner. One study published in the journal Sports reports that there is one secret weapon of an exercise that best puts this power-agility combination to work: the dumbbell lateral squat.
Researchers divided college baseball players into two groups and trained all of them on how to properly do the exercise. They then asked the first group to do a one-minute warm-up and then sit. The second group was asked to perform the same warm-up and follow it with a set of dumbbell lateral squats. Both groups walked slowly for several minutes before performing an agility running test, which challenged them to sprint from a dead stop and to change directions quickly. The athletes in the second group, who completed the dumbbell lateral squats performed significantly better on this running-agility test. The researchers reported that this particular exercise targets muscles necessary for sprinting.
Try the Dumbbell Lateral Squat:
A) Standing with feet together, hold a dumbbell (or kettlebell) with both hands at chest height.
B) Step out with your left foot and lunge to that side, dropping hips down and back. Weight is mostly in your left heel
C) Push off with your bent left legs to return to standing. Repeat on opposite side. That's one rep.