You should be performing lunges frequently if you want to strengthen glutes, quads, and hamstrings. Here is a great guide with benefits, tips, and variations so you can do lunges right and keep lunges fun.
Lunges are a Staple Leg Exercise For Athletes.
You may often overlook the lunge if you instead focus on regular leg exercises such as squats, leg curls, leg press, and leg extensions. After reading this, you will want to include lunges as a staple exercise in your leg training program. Since it is an excellent leg exercise that incorporates your entire lower body. Accordingly, if you fail to incorporate lunges, you are missing out on a very unique and important leg building exercise.
- Primary Muscles Worked: Quadriceps
- Other Muscles Used: Hamstrings, Glutes
- Equipment: Required None, can use Barbell, Dumbells and Smith Machine.
- Mechanics Type: Compound (Two or more joint movements are involved).
- Force: Push (Concentric contraction of the targeted muscles, movement is away from the center of your body).
- Utility: Auxiliary (An optional exercise that may supplement a basic exercise. Auxiliary exercises may place greater relative intensity on a specific muscle or a head of a muscle).
Correct Exercise Procedure Use for Lunge
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, hands on your waist or with hands and arms hanging by your side. You may prefer putting your hand behind your head to open your chest to breath deeper.
- Look straight ahead, straighten your back and pull abdominal muscles in tight.
- Take A large step forward controlling your foot as it lands on the ground. Your step should be long enough to where the back foot’s heel lifts off the ground.
- Lower Yourself, while breathing in, until both your legs are at a 90-degree angle with keeping your weight on your forward foot. Your front knee should line up over the top of your foot and not over the toes.
- Push back up through your front foot, while breathing out, returning to your starting position.
- Continue on your same leg until you complete your desired repetitions, then switch legs and repeat.
Your stance in the lunge will determine what muscles you are using. The longer your step, the more you will work your hamstrings. Conversely, the shorter the step, the more your quads will be used. However, your glutes will get the greatest workout the more you vary your lunge stance.
Target (Agonist) Muscles
- Gluteus Maximus
- Adductor Magnus
- Erector Spinae
- Tibialis Anterior
- Gluteus Medius
- Gluteus Minimus
Tips for Performing Lunges
When you use these tips you will help your muscles fully development by incorporating more muscle fibers per repetition. Therefore, increasing your muscle’s size and strength.
- Use proper form and control. Starting with this exercise, or any exercise you have not performed before, make sure you use the full range of movement with proper extension and contraction. This is important for your muscles to full development.
- Keep torso upright. Look straight ahead, straighten your back, chest up and pull abdominal muscles in tight while performing the lunge.
- Lower until legs are at a 90-degree angle. When you lower yourself down until both legs are at a 90-degree angle you use the whole length of your muscles. Additionally, you should not go beyond 90-degrees. Because this will lead to you hitting or bouncing your back knee off the ground.
- Keep knee over foot. During your lunges, it is very important to keep your front knee lined up over the foot and not the toes. Especially, if you add weight to your lunges, having your front knee in front of your foot will put undue pressure on your knee.
- Push through your heel. When you come up to the starting position make sure you push through the heal of the front foot.
- Maintain control. Maintaining control at all times and making sure not to jerk your movements through the motion for momentum.
- Knee pointing the same direction your foot. Throughout the lunge movement, your lead knee should
pointin the same direction as the foot.
- Avoid locking out knee. To keep tension on the quadriceps after returning to the
startingposition avoid locking out the knee.
Frequent Mistakes Made While Performing the Lunge
Performing an exercise improperly is often called cheating. You may be able to do more reps or more weight when cheating, but this is at the risk of injury and slower muscle development. You will not maximize your muscle fibers to their fullest potential, resulting in not achieving
- Not keeping your torso upright. If you don’t look straight ahead or having your back straight, chest up and abdominal muscles pulled in tight while performing the lunge, can cause loss of balance or add stress to lower back.
- Not lowering legs at 90-degree angle. Lowing legs beyond 90-degrees will add additional stress to the knee causing possible joint damage. Not lowing your legs to the 90-degree angle will not allow the full quadricep muscles to be incorporated therefore not achieving your desired quadricep development.
- Not keeping knee over foot. You must knee directly over your foot during the lunge movement. For example, when you take to long or too short of a step, your knee will be in front of or behind your foot. Consequently, you will put undue pressure to your knee causing discomfort and possible joint damage.
- Not pushing through heel. By not pushing through your front foot’s heel, when going back to starting position, you will cause an awkward movement. Therefore, you may lose your balance and possibly roll an ankle, or cause a knee or hip injury.
- Not maintaining control. Not maintaining control by twisting the upper body and using jerky motions will defiantly put you at risk for an injury.
- Knee not pointing the same direction as your foot. If your knee is not pointing the same direction as the foot throughout the lunge movement, your knee could twist causing lost of balance or knee injury.
- Locking out the knee. By locking out your knee in the starting position, you will take some tension off your quadriceps and allow quadricep muscles to relax before the next repetition. But Locking your knee could lead to injury, especially with weighted lunges.
- Movement performed too fast. When you perform lunges to fast you will not be fatiguing the muscle through resistance but aerobic exercise. Aerobic exercise can be good if you are making lunges as part of a bodyweight HIIT or Circuit training session.
Additional Ways to Add Resistance To Lunges
- Lever Lunge. Most gyms have other equipment or machines that mimic the use of free weights. The Lever Lunge is a good alternate choice for its safety and control for the dumbbell and barbell lunge while still increasing the intensity over the standard Lunge. Though, whenever you use a machine, you lose the benefit of working your stabilizer muscles.
- Cable Lunge. Cable Lunge uses a low pulley and requires either a cable belt or dip belt for performing while holding on to the machine for balance. Additionally, Cable Lunges are a great safe way to perform the Lunge while adding weight. Using cable equipment and while holding on for balance, fewer stabilizing muscles are required.
- One Arm Cable Lunge. With the One Arm Cable Lunge, you grasp a stirrup attachment facing low pulley equipment with one hand and with the other one on your hip for balance. This alternative weighted Lunge exercise introduces the Obliques to the group of stabilizing muscles.
Complimentary Exercises For the Lunge
These complimentary exercises work well with the lunges by using complimentary muscle groups. Adding these exercises to a day you perform lunges can be very benefitial to muscle fatigue in resistance training.
Lunges are a great addition to a leg workout routine as they will help you increase stability and balance. Additionally, lunges will help you add strength to other core power movements like the squats. When you build strength in these movements, you will see continued gains in the gym. Lunges are not always easy to do for the first time. But, after a few sessions, you will notice a big strength difference. Especially, in your quadriceps and glutes. With Lunge exercises, you will also work your body’s core by using the stabilizing muscles in your stomach and back.