Lunges -The Good, The Potential Bad, and the Fix
I love lunges. I love teaching people how to lunge. And I really love seeing people’s faces when they do lunges correctly!
Why are lunges so good anyway?
Lunges are one of the best single leg exercises to build strength, muscle, and therefore burn fat. Unilateral exercises (single leg) also help build stability and control. Here are some other reasons:
-Activates your glutes – who doesn’t like that?
-Helps improve balance
-Works core stability
-Works Hip Flexor Flexibility
However, Lunges, if not done correctly, can wreak havoc on your knees.
So, how do I do lunges?
I like to start people on reverse lunges. Reverse lunges help keep the front leg/knee /heel in a strong position.
1. Start with feet together – take a step back – it may take a few tries to find that sweet spot for your perfect distance back. Make sure your front heel is planted firmly into the ground, and you are up on your back toes (as opposed to your back foot being flat)
2. Come down into that firmly planted front heel by bending the front knee, while also bending that back knee and sending it towards the ground. Add a slight forward lean (only slight) to help solidify that front heel into the ground.
3. Press down through the front heel to bring the back leg forward to the starting position – You will feel your glutes light up.
Is balance an issue?
If balance is an issue, take your step back a little bit wider as opposed to straight back. A wider base gives you more stability. You can also lightly place your hand on something for a little extra stability – no death grips though. 😁
Moving Forward….. Literally….
Once reverse lunges are solid, time to try them forward. The problem with forward lunges, is momentum tends to take you out of that front heel, which can translate into a lot of stress on your knees.
Biggest mistake people make: coming down into the lunge before the front heel is planted into the ground. Here’s the fix:
Think of a forward lunge as a 4 step process:
1. Take a step forward
2. BEFORE coming down into the lunge, shift your weight back into your front heel
3. Go down into that firmly placed front heel with a very slight forward lean to solidify weight over that heel
4. Push up from that front heel to bring your back leg to the starting position. Try not to propel yourself by pushing off the back leg. If you don’t feel that in your glutes, you are probably pushing off the back foot.
Have bad knees? Lunges still don’t feel right for you? There are modifications for you too!!
1.Stationary split squats (lunges)
These are good because you don’t have to take that step forward or back which can cause a wobbly knee. Get into the stance, come down into the lunge (left) and come up (right). Go back down/back up.
2. Forward leaning Anterior Lunge Thanks to Nick Tumminello for this great modification!
These have even less stress on the knee! By leaning over, keeping your back straight(left), the front leg is still loaded, but their is not as much stress on the knee. Push off the front heel and end up in starting position. These can be performed stationary or they can travel forward.
Everyone can lunge!!
Try working lunges into your workouts! Start with just body weight , and gradually add load.
Have any questions? Send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or leave a question in the comment section