Lunges are awesome moves for the entire lower body! They are one of my favorite exercises because there are many variations and they can be used in conjunction with a lot of other exercises to help you lose weight.
Because they use the large muscle groups of your legs and butt, they also can have a great cardio effect, especially if done as part of a circuit or a superset.
They can be done with or without weight….holding a dumbbell in each hand down by your side, a barbell on your back, or holding a medicine ball out in front are 3 popular ways to use weight.
How to do Lunges…
Just think of it as taking a giant step. They are usually done on a flat surface, but they can also be done by stepping up on something elevated like a bench, a chair, a box or even by standing in front of some stairs.
If you are a beginner and you feel a little shaky on a flat surface and you don’t feel like you are going down far enough, stepping up to a higher surface (like the second step on a set of stairs) may be a better starting point.
How far should you go?
It can vary in how far you step out, depending on you and how it feels. You can step out far enough that when your rear leg bends, your knee comes down just behind your front foot, or you can step far enough forward that your rear leg is almost straight – or anywhere in between!
Personally, I like both ways. When you take a big step, you feel a really good stretch in the top of your thigh (quads) on your rear leg.
Generally, on your front foot you should keep most of the weight on your heel – you keep pressure off your knee this way and you will feel it more in your hamstrings in the front leg.
The back foot: Your heel naturally comes off the floor and you are on the ball of your foot. Concentrate on keeping your heel straight up so it stays in line with your knee.
Also, don’t let your knee go further forward than your knee on the front leg.
For lunges or squats or any other leg exercise, your toes should be “pointing” in whatever direction the knees are bending.
Walking it out: Take a big step, bring the other leg forward then take a step with that one!
Alternating: Step forward with one leg, bring it back and step forward with the other one.
To the side...
Take a big step out to the side. You will need to point your toes out about 45 degrees.
To the rear...
Take a step to the rear. This time, you will be staying flat footed with the front foot, and going to the ball on your rear foot.
Two moves in one!
Combine two exercises…Do bicep curls, overhead presses, lateral raises, front raises or upright rows with dumbbells or a medicine ball as you step forward.
When you are ready to kick it up a notch…
Make a circle...
Step to the front, then the side then the rear, all with left foot. Then with your right foot, step to the rear, the side and then the front – you just made a circle – that’s one rep. Try 10 reps and you will feel the burn and see that this can definitely get your heart pumping!
Do a normal forward lunge, but instead of bringing your foot back, jump up in the air and switch feet and drop into a lunge, then jump and switch again. This is intense! I call these "jumping lunges".
As you step, lean forward and with both hands touch either side of your ankle of the foot that is in front. This is a good stretch for your back and you will definitely feel it in your butt!
Lunges are awesome by themselves or as part of a circuit, a superset or as a combination exercise with other moves using your arms, like curls and overhead presses.
They are included in all the popular fitness routines like P90X, Insanity and CrossFit. It is a multi-joint exercise that uses all the muscles of your lower body and stretches the muscles at the same time.They are a great exercise to include in your weight loss or functional training routine.