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Getting the Most Out of Lunges

Dec 21, 2018 2:30:00 PM / by Neal Maddox

Lunges Demonstration:

 

 

The lunge is a unilateral single leg exercise that targets glutes, hamstrings, hips, quads, and those hard to reach inner thigh muscles. The lunge is a great exercise for developing leg strength and conditioning. It is also great for evening out any muscular imbalances that you may have due to the fact that you are working each leg individually.

There are many different variations of the lunge, but the fundamental points of performance for each variation remain the same. When performing any style of lunge, stance and foot placement are key. It is important to not over-extend the hip, putting yourself at risk for injury. Keep your hips aligned with a balanced base in the frontal plane. Maintain a vertical shin on the front leg and vertical thigh on the rear leg. On the front foot, your weight will be balanced throughout the entire foot, while your weight will be on the ball of your foot and toes on the rear leg. Your midline should be stabilized, and your torso should remain in a vertical position, with the chest upright and the shoulders back.

Read More Warming Up Your Hips and Glutes

When standing from the bottom of the lunge, drive through the heel of the front foot to maximize muscle recruitment. When you are lunging with external loads, the placement of the weight will vary, depending on the exercise. Below are some different variations of lunges.

  • Stationary Lunge: Feet will remain in place and the back knee will be lowered straight to the ground. You will stand until both of your legs are completely extended
  • Alternating Step back lunge: Your feet will start underneath the hips. You will step back into the lunge and then stand, bringing your back leg forward, returning your feet back underneath the hips
  • Forward Alternating Lunge: Similar to the step back lunge, except you will step forward from underneath the hips and then bring the front foot back underneath the hips to the starting position.
  • Single arm front rack lunge: Holding an external load, usually a dumbbell or kettle bell, in a front rack position at the shoulder. Keep your elbows in front of the body to stabilize the load and keep the midline locked in. 
  • Single arm low carry: Here you will hold the external load down at your side like a farmer’s carry or suitcase carry. This is demanding as you will be challenged to control the load, keeping your arm from swinging back and forth while you ascend and descend in the lunge
  • Double arm low carry: This is the same as the single arm low carry except you will have two external loads down at your side. This may be easier to balance because you should have even loads on each side of the body. 
  • Double High carry: A high carry is a front rack position. The biggest focus here should be making sure the load remains in the frontal plane, in front of the shoulders, and not resting on top of the shoulders. This style of carry will really challenge your midline stability.
  • Uneven carry: This is where you have two external loads, one in each hand, but the holds are different on each side. One side will be at the shoulders, while the other side is being held in a low carry at the side. This requires you to focus your attention on the positioning for both placements of the external loads.
  • Double overhead: Double overhead is where you have two external loads, one in each hand, in an overhead position. This will be challenging for your midline as well as your overhead position. Be sure to use a load that you can control and stabilize with your shoulders.

Lunges are a great exercise for improving balance and flexibility while developing leg strength and endurance. Also, because of the physical demand, lunges are a great exercise for improving metabolic conditioning and burning calories. Lunges can be performed with or with out external loads. Make sure that you have the strength and stability to perform them without external loads before adding them to the exercises. When adding weight to your lunges, use weights that are manageable. External loads place greater demand on not only your body, but your mind as well, because you have to think about not only balancing yourself, but also the load being carried. There are many different styles of lunges that are not shown in this video. We just highlighted the common variations that you will see in the Maddox Method program. Some other variations of lunges that you may see in our program include:

  • Jumping lunge
  • Curtsy lunge
  • Lunge twists
  • Rear foot elevated
  • Front foot elevated
  • Slider lunge
  • Around the clock lunge
  • Side lunge
  • Windmill lunge

Read More Pistol Squat Progressions and Modifications

Topics: Lower Body

Neal Maddox

Written by Neal Maddox