Let’s talk about lunges. One of the basic human movement patterns, essential for most sports and a good way to make your legs and butt look great too 🙂
Lunges will work your legs (obvs) and glutes, and they’ll also do wonders for toning your adductors (inner thighs)
You can adjust the length of your lunges – short stride lunges will work your quads more, longer stride will activate your hamstrings and glutes more. You can use them as a fantastic hip and adductor stretch.
They’re effective with just bodyweight, and they’re magnificent with resistance.
Whew! All of that in one “simple” exercise!
- Split squat (sometimes called a static lunge, which doesn’t make sense when you think about it!).
Stand with one leg in front, feet shoulder width apart. Stride length depending on what part of your legs you want to work. Start off standing tall, looking straight ahead, with a slight bend in your knees. Hands can be on your hips or holding a weight. Inhale, then squat down until the rear shin is parallel to the ground. Keep the front knee behind the toes of the front foot and in line with the hip and your foot. Pause briefly and return to the start position. Repeat 10 times, change legs – that’s 1 set.
- Reverse lunge.
Start with your feet parallel, about hip width apart. Inhale, then step back with either leg to the desired stride length. The foot should skim across the ground. Don’t lift the foot up and plonk it down. Hold the lunge position, then push off the rear foot and return to the start position. You can either alternate legs or perform on one side, then switch. Again, 10 reps each side.
- Forward lunge. Start with feet parallel, hip width apart. Take a step forward, keeping your feet hip width apart and land softly. Keep the knees behind the toes at all times. Keep your torso upright as far as you can. Long stride lunges may lead to some forward lean which is okay, as long as it’s not too much. Hold the position briefly, then push off the front foot to return to the start position.
- Lateral lunge.
The lateral lunge works your hips and adductors. My favourite variant is done in one smooth action. Start with your arms outstretched, and feet wide apart. Shift your weight to your right and bring your weight down to your right hand side. Without bobbing up, shift your weight to the left, then back up again. Repeat for 10 reps. Reverse directions
Things to watch out for
- Excessive forward lean. If you find yourself leaning forwards and your torso passes your toes in a lunge you might have tight hip flexors. Do a set of glute bridges and stretch your hip flexors before you lunge.
- Front knee drifts inwards. If you find your front knee drifting inwards you might have weak glutes. Try some band walkouts to strengthen your glutes. Also, slow down your lunges and focus on keeping your knee straight.
- Stomping. Stomping shows that you need more control and it can be a bit painful on the knee joint. Aim to land softly with each repetition. Engaging your core helps.
- Keep shoulders down and chest open. This will help to keep your torso upright avoiding the forward lean, and also will activate your upper and mid back muscles.
- Balance. Keeping the foot-knee-hip line for both your forward and back legs eliminates the wobble. For front lunges mark on the floor where your foot is when at hip width, draw a straight line and mark where you need to step. Reverse lunges are easier in this respect as your leg will always go back into the pretty much correct position 🙂