What are lunges?
Although when talking about lunges one strictly thinks about exercises, a lunge can be any position where the body has one leg positioned forward with one knee bent and the foot flat on the ground, while the other leg is positioned behind.
What muscles do lunges work?
Lunges are a great exercise that helps with toning and strengthening one’s body, especially the bum, legs, and core, while also improving the posture and the range of motion.
Lunges target many muscles, especially in the lower part of the body; the muscles that are worked are the abdominals, gluteal muscles, back muscles, calves, hamstrings, and quadriceps.
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How to do lunges?
While there are many varieties of lunges, the classic version is referred to as ‘stationary lunge’ and, as it is the base for all other types of lunges, it is important to get the form right.
To perform a lunge, one should stand tall with the feet hip-width apart, while engaging the core. Take one big step forward with one foot and lower the body until the thigh of the leg that moved forward is parallel to the ground and the opposite one parallel to the shin of the leg that moved forward.
Press into the heel of the foot that is in front and return to the starting position to then repeat with the opposite leg.
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What are the benefits of lunges?
This exercise not only helps with strengthening, toning, and sculpting the body, but also with improving one’s athletic performance and overall fitness level; lunges help strengthen legs, hips, and back while increasing mobility and improving stability and are an excellent exercise not only for beginners but also for athletes.
Further to the above, this form of exercise can assist with weight-loss, as they work large groups of muscles in the lower body, building muscles and therefore reducing body fat, which in exchange can increase one’s metabolism, which burns more calories even while resting.
There are many, many alternatives to lunges, but here are the most popular and their benefits.
Side Lunges or Lateral Lunges: this version of the exercise increases stability, strength, and balance while working the thighs, both inner and outer, which in turn may reduce the appearance of cellulite. Side lunges target hips, quadriceps, and legs at a different angle than stationary lunges, therefore working these muscles differently.
Reverse Lunges activate the core, glutes, and hamstrings while putting less stress in the joints and giving extra stability, as the weight is mainly on the front leg. This version of the exercise may be more suitable to those who are concerned with their knees, have difficulty balancing, or have reduced mobility of the hips.
Walking lunges are an excellent way of improving balance and coordination while targeting the hips, glutes, and core. To increase the level of difficulty of this exercise, one can perform it while adding weights or twisting the torso.
Twist lunges are an increase in the level of difficulty, as the twist activates the core and glutes more deeply, while also focusing on balance and stability as the torso is twisted away from the lower part of the body and the knees are still maintaining alignment. The twist can be added to stationary, reverse, or walking lunges.
Curtsy lunges are great alternative lunges to strengthen and tone the bum and improve posture. Strong glutes are linked to preventing knee and back pain, which in turn improve athletic performance and lower the risk of injury. The muscles heavily targeted with this variation are the quadriceps, hamstrings, and hip adductors.
Plyo or Jumping Lunges: this version of the exercise is excellent as the jump increases the focus on the quads, hamstrings, hip flexors, glutes, and calves, while also incorporating some cardiovascular exercise.
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Dumbbell or Weighted Lunges are a great way of developing legs and glutes strength.
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Sprinter Lunges target the core, hamstrings, glutes, quadriceps, calves, and foot muscles while also working the hips, spine, ankles, and knees.
Assisted Lunges are a version of lunges where an object, such as a chair, is used to maintain balance and help with coordination; this is an excellent way to commence practicing this form of exercise as it can help one focus on the area where they feel the least confident.
Are lunges bad for your knees?
Each lunge involves stepping into one of the legs and putting most of the weight into it; while this exercise can improve the strength of the hips and legs, when it is performed incorrectly it can cause pain and be considered bad. It is important to ensure that the knee does not extend past the ankle of the leg that is bending and ensure correct posture.
Lunges VS Squats
While both exercises are excellent for lower body strength, when starting squats are a more sensible choice, as they are a more balanced exercise, while lunges require more balance and coordination.
Furthermore, while squats divide the weight among both legs, lunges require one of the feet to take a greater load, meaning the muscle activation in the body is different.
As a beginner, it is usually recommended one starts with squats to then proceed with lunges once the necessary strength is built.
Will lunges make my bum bigger?
This exercise indeed strengthens the muscles in the glutes and this is one of the go-to practices to obtain a bigger bum; these muscles are activated even more when doing walking lunges as they are required to maximize balance while changing leg, not only during the stationary lunge part.
Do lunging slim thighs?
Although many people looking for slimmer thighs avoid this exercise completely, what they do not realize is that muscle has less volume than fat, therefore toning that area will not only increase muscles but also reduce fat.
Do lunges help lose weight?
This exercise is not only effective in strengthening the glutes and legs, but also in boosting the metabolism and consequently lose weight faster; this happens because the large muscle groups in the lower part of the body are targeted and muscle is built, while fat is burnt and muscle burns more calories also when resting.
In addition to this benefit, once the fat is worked off the area, lunges do an excellent job in sculpting it.
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Should your knee touch the floor during lunges?
No, not at all, your knee should not touch the ground while performing a lunge; while performing a stationary lunge the knee should not go further than the ankle and the thigh of the leg that is left behind should be parallel to the shin of the front leg.
What are the most common mistakes made while performing a lunge?
1 – Taking a small step forward: one should always take a long step forward to ensure the knee does not pass the ankle.
2 – Not controlling knee positioning: the knees mustn’t be allowed to collapse inward while performing a lunge; concentrate on maintaining the knees in line.
3 – Focusing on the depth of the lunge and not the posture of the upper part of the body: when performing a lunge, ensure your centerline is correct and that you follow proper posture by keeping the pelvis in a natural position and the torso upright with the chest lifted so that the spine is stacked in a vertical position.
4 – Performing the exercise quickly to do more repetitions: moving too quickly will not only be less effective but will also increase the risk of injury. Take your time while performing this exercise and focus on balance and posture as exercising correctly is key to success, especially in the long term.
Lunges are a great exercise to develop balance and strength, but it must be performed correctly to avoid injury and enjoy all the benefits it brings.
When starting, it is recommended one starts with squats, to then move on to lunges once comfortable.
Focus on posture and balance and ensure the movement is done correctly, no matter what lunge you are performing. Multiple alternatives do not only work on strength, but also on improving cardiovascular health and stability.
For those with lower body problems, such as knee injury, a specialist must be consulted before taking up any of these exercises in a routine, however, also those without such complications should always ensure they perform the exercise correctly and even learn it under the expert eye of a trainer if necessary.
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