With so many different kinds of exercises, it is definitely easy to become confused once stepping into the gym. A single muscle group can be targeted in multiple ways that will leave even the most intellectual professional trainer deciphering on what exercise movements should be done and when. Hitting a muscle from different angles and resistances is key to improving development and strength.
One of the most confusing areas of the body to work on is the legs. An individual’s legs consist of many muscles, including the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and calves. Understanding what areas you want to focus on will determine the exercise needed. In today’s article, we will be directing our attention to a leg developing and booty burning exercise known as the lunge.
Lunges should be an essential lift in everyone’s leg routine. Although they are happily painful and leave your legs feeling like jello, they are a crucial part to increasing size, to tone, and to strengthen one’s legs.
This movement practically uses your whole lower body, but creates most of the emphasis on your quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes from every aspect of the lift. This exercise resembles the muscles that are worked during a squat, but may work more of your glutes by the extension of your leg outwards, thus benefiting a new way to target your muscles. Once understanding the standard lunge, all other forms will become more comprehensible.
How To Do A Lunge: Good Form and Variations
Standard Lunge – To perform this exercise, stand completely up with your feet shoulder-width apart and your core tight. Lift one foot off of the ground and extend it forward. Lower your hips and make sure your front and back knee have extended down and have been bent into right angle. Keep your body straight up and your core still tight at the bottom of this lift. You should feel a stretch in your glutes and quads. Your front foot should be flat on the ground with your knee behind your toes. Taking a look at your back foot, it should be bent at the toes. To return to the original position, use force at the heel of your front foot as well as the force of your thighs to propel you back in the same position you started off. Now do it again on the other leg.
Walking Lunge – Walking lunges are very similar to the standard lunge but consist of moving into a forward direction besides remaining in the same spot. Perform the standard lunge and hold in the position where your hips are low, once here, use your front foot to push you up and forward rather than back into your regulars position. In one simultaneous movement, lift your back leg forward to propel you in the direction you are facing and to now place you into a ready lunge position for your other leg. Continue for desired distance.
Weighted Lunge – This type of lunge can be used in conjunction with the standard lunge or even the walking lunge. There are three specific ways to add weight to this movement:
- Dumbbells: Hold a dumbbell in each hand and perform the desired lunge.
- Barbell: Place a barbell weight behind the neck and execute a lunge
- Plate: Hold a weight plate either against your chest or if advanced, over your head when performing a lunge.
Reverse Lunge – In a reverse lunge, it will be the same movement as a standard lunge but going backwards and then returning to the original position. This is a simple way to switch up your lunges and change direction to challenge your muscles a little differently.
Side Lunges – This type of lunge focuses more on the sides of your legs, but does incorporate all muscles of the various other lunges. With your feet shoulder-width apart, besides moving your leg forward, move your right leg far out to the side and bring your hips down. Your hips should be dropped to the floor as low as you can go and your right foot should be facing forward with a bend in the knee. Your left leg knee should be extended with your body to the right as your right knee is bent. Hold this position, feeling a stretch in your hamstrings, glutes, and quadriceps. Push off your right foot and thigh into the original position and switch sides.
Bending over: Do not, and I repeat, do not bend forward. Keep your chest up, back straight, core tight, and your head looking straight. This position is crucial to maximize your muscles doing the work and also prevent you from getting injured.
Extending Knee Out Too Far: Make sure your knee of the foot going forward does not go past your toes. Keep your weight on the heel of your front foot and make sure your knee is at a 90 degree angle. This will prevent knee problems and also help work the muscle efficiently.
Keeping Weight on the Toes: As mentioned previously, your front leg should always have the weight distributed on the heel of the foot. All major lifting movements drive through the heels of the feet rather than the toes, so this is very important to keep in mind and so it is crucial place your weight on the heels of your front foot.
Not Facing Forward and Straight: Make sure your hips, feet, and knees are aligned and facing forward. Maneuvering out of this will result in muscle imbalances and further problems that may result in corrupting further leg functionality.
The lunge is a great exercise to incorporate into your leg routines. Do not underestimate this movement because it can definitely aid in leg development and functionality. Experiment with the different variations and see which ones work best for you. Switch it up occasionally to prevent boredom and to increase the different benefits of each. Oh, and once last thing that was failed to be elaborated upon. It should be noted that lunges are known to have one major side effect: extreme booty soreness the next morning. Good luck.