The major body shaping advantage of learning the lunge is that it works not only the quadriceps and the hamstrings, but also the calves and glutes through a greater range of motion than other leg exercises. In layman’s terms, greater range of motion equates to improved flexibility and in turn a great pair of legs.
Known as the one of the best exercise for your legs; the lunge is your ticket to showcasing those stems. Colder temperatures may be keeping the legs covered now, but bare-leg weather will be here before you know it. It’s time to hit the gym or home workout and learn how to get those legs long and lean before spring.
To execute the traditional bodyweight walking lunge:
- Begin with your feet shoulder width apart. Maintain and erect torso and take controlled step forward on one foot.
- When the ball of your forward foot touches the floor continue by lowering your hips so that the forward thigh becomes parallel to the floor. For proper form, make sure your forward knee is positioned directly above the ankle or slightly behind. Feet should be pointed straight ahead at all times and your trailing leg should be extended through the hip.
- After lowering the hips to the most comfortable position for you, shift your balance and push off with the trailing foot to come to your starting stance.
- Repeat on the other leg until you hit the desired rep range for each leg.
The lunge isn’t called the “King” for being traditional. In fact, this exercise has thousands of variations. Some of the top variations include: (scroll below to see visual demonstrations)
- Reverse Lunge – complete the exercise the same as above, but instead stand with the feet hip distance apart and simply step one leg back and lower into the proper lunge form. From the bottom, shift your balance forward and return to the starting position. Repeat on the other leg
- Curtsy Lunge – start in the traditional stance and take a step backward with your left leg, crossing it behind your right. Lower your body until your right thigh is parallel to the ground or as low as you are comfortable with. Return to start. You can alternate each leg or repeat movement on each leg until you hit your desired rep range.
- Side Lunge – begin in the traditional stance but now take a large step laterally to the right side. Allow the upper body to lean forward at the hips not rounding in the spine. Lower the body by extending the left leg and bending the right knee. Be sure to the right knee does not extend past your toes and your feet stay pointed forward. Push your weight through your right foot and return to standing. Repeat all desired reps on one leg first or alternate between both legs.
- Bulgarian Split Lunge – (by far the most challenging, I think) begin by extending one leg behind you and resting your foot on a bench, chair or any step slightly higher than the ground. In the traditional lunge motion, bend both knees and lower straight down. When the front thigh is parallel to ground rise up, pushing through the front heel to the start. To make the even more challenging try hold dumbbells at your sides or a barbell on your back.
Tips to keep in mind during any lunge exercise:
(1) to prevent back injury, always maintain an erect spine and keep your abdominals engaged the entire exercise
(2) move between legs slowly to maintain proper form and balance, you will more likely reap more benefits by executing your lunge slowly.
As you progress you your coordination will improve and you will lunge deeper increasing your range of motion. To challenge yourself further, you can always add weighted dumbbells or barbells increase muscular strength and adding additional lean mass to your legs.
Now pop in your ear buds, blast some ZZ Top “She’s Got Legs,” and start lunging your way to spring.