What You’ll Need
The brilliance of all things dumbbell-related is that all you will need is a set of dumbbells and the room to manoeuvre without causing any damage or harm to your surroundings or fellow athletes. You knew that much from the title, though. So what else do you need to know?
You aim to develop, right? That said, you’ll need a range of weights, both heavy and light, in order to develop your muscles properly. It’s not just about getting the most reps in or lifting the heaviest weight, it’s a combination of two approaches that will most effectively strengthen and develop your muscles.
Anything else? Well, there’s a reason the experts wear compression clothing, you know. Not only does it warm your limbs and allow you to move in a non-restrictive way, it also reduces the build-up of lactic acid and, most importantly, compresses your inflamed muscles. As you may know, the best way to recover aching, tired and injured muscles is to apply pressure and rest. Dumbbell lunges are an intense and targeted workout that will definitely leave your muscles tight when you’re done. Compression clothing can help, along with a quality warm-up.
We will get into the specific details of which muscles are worked by dumbbell lunges, but first, we’ll cover the ballpark areas, which you will need to warm up effectively to avoid injury, tightness and pulled muscles. Begin with the core, by performing hyperextensions of your back. Stretch your posterior chain by continuing with stretches of your hamstrings and calf muscles.
It’s not just your legs that are worked by lunges. Don’t forget that your arms and upper body will bear the stress of the dumbbells, too, so work your rotator cuffs and shoulders. As with all leg and core workouts, a good old fashioned light jog will work wonders to loosen up your muscles after a proper stretch.
Which Muscles Does It Work?
Your hamstrings will bear the brunt of the weight as you descend into the lunge, and your quads and calf muscles will take the strain as you rise. But if these were the only areas required it would be closer to a leg press, which would also work your posterior chain, meaning your lower back.
For this reason, when your back is involved you must engage your core to protect your spine and to maintain posture as you lunge. Adding the extra weight of dumbbells means that you will need to pay extra attention to posture, and ensure that you keep your back straight and shoulders back. Your traps will get a workout as you hold up the dumbbells, along with your rotator cuffs as you maintain your balance.
How To Perform The Correct Technique
Lunging is a calisthenic activity that can also be classified as a resistance training exercise. As you move into and out of a lunge, your body weight becomes the force you’re pressing against. The technique is everything, and if you don’t keep your balance you may suffer the consequence by pulling a muscle, triggering a trapped nerve, or causing a much worse injury to the muscles involved.
Stand up with your legs together and your arms at your sides, with the dumbbells loosely at your sides. While you should be keeping your arms still, you should still engage them in the exercise by keeping your muscles tight so that your arms do not swing loosely. Remember: all movements should be purposeful.
Begin the lunge by stepping forward with one leg. Choose your strongest leg if you are not confident of your strength and balance. Bend both of your knees to lower yourself down into the lunge. Each knee should come down at a 90-degree angle and your front knee needs to be directly over your ankle and behind your toes to avoid excess strain to your knee.
Your joints are used throughout lunges but it is your muscles that you should be exercising. Be conscious of that and let the weight be carried by your hamstrings and quads, not your knees, hips or back. To straighten yourself back to your starting position, push back with the foot you have lunged first and engage your glutes and quads to see you there.
Extra Tips You Could Use
Begin with lighter weights so that you don’t test your strength too much. Master your technique first and gradually increase the number of repetitions. Then increase the weight, which may mean lowering the number of reps and increasing the number of sets at first.
Next, keep variety in mind. Rather than stepping forwards, try side lunges, which involve the same approach but engage your inner thighs. You can also attempt a standard lunge with an added twist at the end to work your obliques.
You can also try to vary your use of dumbbells, by holding one in each hand for balance, holding one in front of you in both hands and experimenting with the angle you hold it, moving it straight out in front of you or over your head.