Mon | Nov 12, 2018

Fit 4 Life | Lunge effectively, safely

Published:Thursday | November 8, 2018 | 6:21 PMMarvin Gordon/Contributor
"Before doing weighted lunges, it is important to master the form" - fitness coach Marvin Gordon

Lunges are among the top lower-body exercises around. From strength to flexibility to balance, there are many benefits. To make the most of lunges, however, they must be done correctly. Butchering the form during lunges is a quick way to pain and injuries, especially of the ankles, knees and back. 

Progression is also a major advantage of lunges. There are many variations you can use to further your progress without adding more weights.

Follow these rules for safe, effective lunges before trying out any variations.

HOW TO LUNGE

Before doing weighted lunges, it is important to master the form. Lunges require balance and coordination and can be tough to get right, especially with weights. Practice standard bodyweight lunges in front of a mirror to identify and correct any deficiencies in the movement pattern. Do not use weights until you can execute the movement correctly without struggling to maintain your balance.

Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Your knees should be unlocked. Try to maintain the natural curvature of your spine. Take a moderate-length step forward. Lower your rear knee to just above the floor without touching the ground while maintaining your body's upright posture.

From the bottom position, push back up from your forward foot, bringing it back beside the other. 

Repeat the movement on the other side.

Tips: 

• The knees should always point straight ahead. 

• Don't allow the knees to travel inward and out of alignment with your ankles, shoulders, and hips.

• The entire foot of the lead leg should maintain contact with the floor. 

• Try to maintain a straight line between your shoulders, hips, and the knee of your trailing leg.

• Keep your spine erect. 

LUNGE VARIATIONS

Reverse Lunge

The reverse lunge involves a step backward, as opposed to the forward step of the standard lunge. It reduces pressure on the lumbar spine and knees while inducing greater activation of the glutes and hamstrings. 

Lateral Lunge

Lateral lunges target the muscles from a different angle. They are among the few exercises which train the lower body in lateral-plane movement. Lateral lunges place greater focus on the gluteus medius muscle, making it perfect for bulletproofing your glutes.  Simply shift the direction of the step to the side while following the rules of the basic lunge. 

Walking Lunge with Twist

Adding a twist to the basic lunge or any of its variations turns it into one of the most versatile exercises around. It can serve as a dynamic warm-up or stretch; a full body workout with emphasis on the legs and core; a challenging strength builder; or a great calorie burner.

This is another simple modification: hold a medicine ball or dumbbell in front of your torso while lunging. As you approach the bottom of the movement, twist your body to the direction that corresponds with the forward leg. You can perform this move without weights as well.

- Marvin Gordon is a fitness coach; email: marvin.gordon@physiqueandfunction.com; yourhealth@gleanerjm.com