The major muscles worked in the Lunge are Gluteus Maximus, Hamstrings, Quadriceps, Gastrocnemius, and Soleus.

This exercise develops strength and endurance of the lower body muscles.

Overview: With feet shoulder width apart. toes pointed straight, knees in the same direction as toes, abdominals contracted and torso in the upright position inhale and take a large step forward. Land with your heel first and bring knee to 90°.  Back knee can be bent or in a straight position.  In the bent position, the knee is near the floor but not touching it. The back heel is lifted. On the return, exhale and push-off with the front foot and return to original position.

Position: Feet are shoulder-width apart and toes point straight ahead. Take care to align your knees in the same direction as your toes. If using dumbbells, place at your sides with palms facing body.  If using barbells, rest on the posterior deltoids.  Pelvis, neck, spine and scapulae (shoulder blades) are in neutral.  Contract abdominals.  Keep knees soft.

Movement: Inhale while lead leg (front) takes a large step forward. Exaggerate this move so that knee does not overshoot the toes. Heel lands first and knee flexes (no more than 90°) until front thigh is parallel to the floor.  Back knee can be positioned in two ways: (1) bent at 90° with thigh perpendicular to the floor or (2) nearly straight with hips fully extended. Position (2) requires more balance and coordination. Your weight is distributed on the front foot and ball of the back foot with the back heel up. Torso is positioned upright throughout the two phases of the movement.  On return, while exhaling, push off with the front foot and return to a neutral position. If balance is a problem during push off, take a small step or two to return to position.

Common errors:
– taking too small a step which results in knee overshooting the toes placing increased stress on knee
– leaning forward with flexed spine
– hip not fully extended,very important for position (2) mentioned above
– torquing – make sure hips, knees and ankles are all pointing in the same direction
– torso momentum when stepping into back movement, this places stress on the spine
– back knee touching the floor (I see this all too often at the gym)
– positioning feet in a single straight line, this makes balancing difficult
– keeping the back heel down instead of the up position

Progression: There are a lot of different variations of lunges.  A few of the more common are:
Side(lateral) lunge with or without weight, split lunge with back shin resting on stability ball or one of my favorites…plyometric lunge (I love performing this lunge with my knee in position (2) and arms stabilized in the overhead press position)

lateral lunge

split lunge on stability ball

Lunges are difficult in that they require balance, coordination and flexibility.  Need assistance or progression advice?  Please leave a comment…

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