Whether you’re starting your fitness journey, looking to take your fitness to the next level, or just needing a good ‘pump’, squats and lunges are essential to bettering your lifestyle.
Squats are the most fundamental lower body exercise, but today we will focus on its progression: lunges.
The legs are the largest muscles in your body. These include the feet, calves, quadriceps, hamstrings, hips, and glutes. Together, these muscles can compose up to 18% of your body, PLUS they support your entire body weight, including your arms, chest, and belly! Working the largest muscle groups in your body will burn the most calories (essential for weight loss) and build the most mass (muscle gain/growth).
Losing weight and building muscle are great goals, but there’s another goal that we need to address: maintenance. As we age, our posture, alignment, and balance deteriorate. Injuries and disabilities can be a result.
Not only do lunges help rehabilitate from these injuries, they challenge our balance and core engagement.
This prevents injuries/deterioration, and allows us to move freely into our old age. Preventing injuries is better than rehabilitating them.
Now that you know why we do lunges, we can talk about how. Lunges, as previously mentioned, work the entirety of the lower body musculature. The aforementioned feet, calves, etc. Lunges target and activate all of them. There are multiple variations on lunges: in place/stationary, walking, and transverse. We will go over these 3 now.
- Begin in an upright standing position
- Lift one leg and step forward
- Imagine your rear knee bending to touch the ground, while not actually making contact.
Note: As you progress downward, allow your forward knee to bend to 90-degree angle, always keeping heel of forward foot on ground.
- Then stand reverse to original upright position.
Note: Never allow your knee to go past your toes. Above them is fine.
Proceed the same way as in place, but stand forward to upright position.
- Stand in upright position.
- Side step laterally to one side.
- Hinge your hips backward, allowing body to squat down, away from midline, causing opposite leg to straighten into a lunge position. Leg on same side bends to 90 degree, keeping knee above toe, instead of past it.
Note: Heels on both feet should remain firmly rooted to ground.
- Reverse movement to end up back in upright position.
Always maintain a strong, straight back.
All the previous variations or progressions can be used, weighted (as seen in the transverse lunge example).