More than any other resistance exercise, lunges make me use four letter words. Anyone passing by when I am doing lunges probably thinks I just got out of the Navy. But I force myself to do them because they get results, hence their inclusion in this series of blog posts.
Lunges work the largest muscles in your lower body: quadriceps (front of thigh), hamstrings (back of thigh), and gluteals (rear end). In other words, they work the anxiety producing trifecta over which so many women obsess. (Sorry guys, you just don’t seem to worry about your buns as much as we females do, but this is still a great exercise for you.)
As with any exercise, it is imperative that you have correct form when performing a lunge. Because you change your base of support and line of gravity when you shift a leg forward, lunges also provide bonus fitness points by helping with balance and core stabilization. As you move into a lunge position, take the time to make sure you are stable and not tipping over to one side. Contract your abs to help keep your upper body from swaying to one side. Also make sure that your forward knee aligns over your ankle… keeping your knee at a 90 degree angle ensures you are causing the appropriate muscles to fire and helps protect against injury.
You’ll see many a fitness pro engage in a deep lunge, where their back leg is parallel to the floor, almost to the point where it's kissing the ground. If you’re new to lunges, don’t be intimidated by that… you’ll get there one day too! In the meantime, go as deep into the lunge as you can. With time and practice, you’ll be able to get deeper and finally achieve the parallel line.
If you’re already a lunge pro, try some variations such as side lunges, lunges with elbow instep, or lunges with arm drivers. You can also do walking lunges, where you lunge across the room or down the sidewalk, lunging one leg forward after the other.
Since lunges work the lower body powerhouse muscles all in one fell swoop, they are a great exercise to do if you're short on time. They're also great if you're looking to gain lower body strength and tone/define that region of your body. Happy Lunging!