Jason Benguche M.S, CSCS, CISSN
A majority of training is dominated by the sagittal plane for a variety of reasons. Sometimes it is a lack of creativity; other times it due to limitations with movement ability. When it comes to single leg knee dominant lower body training, lunge variations, step ups, and split squat variations are most common in exercise programing. These are all great movements and will always have their place in my training programs but they are all missing something, the frontal plane.
The benefits of multi-planar training are widespread among all sports, genders, and training ages. The ability to stabilize, reduce and produce forces in multiple planes and ranges of motion gives athletes the greatest chance of resiliency in their given sport. The 1KB Anterior Lateral Box Squat places high demand on the following factors:
Upper body postural control
Length and strength of the adductor group
While standing to the side of a bench height box (approx.), one kettlebell is secured in an anterior front rack position.
The feet are widened with toes slightly flared with the body partially covering the box. This base initially will be balanced and symmetrical.
In order to keep the kettlebell in an upright position, the shoulders must be retracted back and down while simultaneously setting the ribcage down and pulling the elbow close to the body.
Once stabilized in the setup position, the ribcage is braced while shifting laterally to the bench. The descent is initiated through the hip and the knee of the onset loaded leg.
The off leg is kept long and straight while pushing the knee outward, loading the hip back and down towards the box.
After a soft, brief pause on the top of the box, return to the starting position driving through the loaded outside edge, heel/midfoot, while keeping the knee in line with the second toe.
Upper Body- A rounded upper back is a common fault especially when loads get excessive. Include additional upper back/ posterior shoulder strengthening to improve this position.
Core- Excessive forward lean will be seen in athletes without the ability to stabilize in the sagittal and frontal planes. Be sure to include multiple planes of movement in training the core while also looking for asymmetrical muscular tension at the hip. The ankle will also play a role in this fault (see ankle).
Hip- Adductor stiffness and lack of overall hip mobility will limit the depth and range of motion that can be achieved. Daily movement prep addressing all ranges of motion at the hip (flexion, extension, adduction, abduction, IR/ER) is strongly encouraged.
Knee- Knee valgus is the most common fault on both the eccentric and concentric portion of this movement. Include additional work for the glute medius to promote awareness and function of keeping the knee outward in line with the second toe.
Ankle- Lack of ankle dorsiflexion can drastically change the torso position and function of this movement. As in all knee dominant movements there must be a degree of freedom where the ankle will allow the shin to deviate from vertical towards the toe. Excessive forward lean due to ankle ROM should lead to prioritizing the mobility of this joint to free up faults created by this restriction.
The 1KB Anterior Lateral Box Squat is a great frontal plane variation to add to the toolbox with other high quality lower body movements. The ability to stabilize, reduce and produce forces in multiple planes and ranges of motion can be a powerful influence to improve performance and reduce the risk of injury. Be sure to always keep progression and regression in mind while loading appropriately for quality movement.