The lunge is an essential exercise for anybody who walks, runs, sprints, kicks or climbs. When you master the lunge, you will become a better athlete. The unilateral (single-side focus) nature of this exercise can help you identify imbalances in strength and add balance to your strength and coordination.
It’s also important to point out that lunges should be trained in all three planes of motion — as life, and sport, happen in all directions. So don’t just lunge forward and backward, but also to the side and add some rotation!
BREAKING DOWN THE LUNGE
For a standard forward lunge, begin in a split stance with feet about shoulder-width apart. Lead the movement by bending your back knee down toward the ground, keeping your front knee tracking forward over your middle toes. Engaging your glutes and pressing through your front foot and the ball of your rear foot, stand back up.
When moving sideways for the lateral lunge, step to the left with the left toe pointed directly forward, allow the left hip to drop down and back. By bracing that hip and keeping the right leg straight, step the right leg in and repeat.
The curtsy lunge adds some rotation to the lunge movement, and it loads the hips and glutes. Begin by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart. Step one leg behind and beyond the other and bend both knees. When your front thigh is almost parallel with the floor, return to the beginning posture.
HOW TO AVOID COMMON FAULTS
Maintain an upright posture.
Align your front knee with the middle toes — avoid buckling in or out.
Ensure the back knee bends down toward the floor to near 90 degrees in forward lunges.
The toes of the lunging leg should point directly forward and avoid turning out in lateral lunges.
The back knee should reach just past the front ankle for the proper range of motion in curtsy lunges.
Use your glutes! By squeezing your backside, the move will be more powerful and your hips will flex and extend more easily.
TO PROGRESS OR REGRESS
Make it easier: If you’re not comfortable doing a lunge on your own, or you’re struggling with the proper form, try unloading your body weight by doing lunges in the pool, with a TRX Suspension Trainer or by holding a broomstick vertically next to you during the movement.
Ramp it up: Try adding resistance to your lunges by holding dumbbells, kettlebells, a sandbag or a barbell. When you’re ready, you can also make the lunges dynamic by adding a plyometric hop. Ensure you can maintain proper lunge form before you add on a progression.
THE LUNGE WORKOUT
Day 1: 2 x 10 Forward lunges on each side
Day 2: 2 x 10 Lateral lunges on each side
Day 3: 2 x 10 Curtsy lunges on each side
Day 4: Rest Day
Day 5: 2 x 15 Forward lunges on each side
Day 6: 2 x 15 Lateral lunges on each side
Day 7: 2 x 15 Curtsy lunges on each side