• Jim

Learn the Lunge



The lunge is one of the basic human movement patterns. All movement can be broken down into a few basic patterns. These include the squat, hinge, lunge, push, pull, twist and gait patterns. Every exercise program should include variations of each of these movement patterns unless there is a physical reason like an injury that would prevent a person from performing the movement safely.




BENEFITS


The lunge pattern has many benefits. These include:


Stronger Muscles - Lunges strengthen the abs, glutes and muscles of the leg.


Better Balance and Coordination - Lunges are single leg exercises that train one side of your body independently from the other. Training one side of the body independently from the other helps to even out any imbalances in strength and muscle development. Due to the less stable support when training one side at a time, lunges help to improve balance and coordination. Lunges require muscles to work together to complete the movement smoothly. Lunges improve coordination in addition to developing strength.


Improved Symmetry - Imbalances in muscular strength are improved by bringing the weaker side of your body up to par with the stronger side. Eliminating weak links in the body reduce the chance of injury and improves strength in exercises like the squat and deadlift.


Increased Hip Flexor Flexibility - Lunges are important in improving the flexibility of the muscles that are used to bend the legs at the hips. In our sedentary culture, many individuals have chronically tight hip flexors. Tight hip flexor muscles are stretched using the lunge movement. Lunges help to loosen tight hip flexors.


Improved Glute Activation and Tone - Lunges target the glutes, eliciting a high level of activity in the muscles of the buttocks. Strengthening the glutes results in better shape of the buttocks.


Better Core Stability - Keeping the torso upright during lunges requires proper pelvic and spinal position. Engaging the core during lunges improves core stability. Lunges engage the abdominal, back, chest, pelvis, and buttock muscles. Strengthening these muscles improves core strength and stability. Strong core muscles are essential in improving balance, posture, stability, sports performance as well as relieving back pain.


Spinal De-loading - The lunge, takes the load off or de-loads the spine. Barbell squats load the spine. De-loading the spine provides rest and recovery.


APPROACH AND POSITION


Setup


1. Place your feet one ahead of the other


2. Keep your chest up and low back tight – Think “Proud chest”. This will help keep your lower back flat.


3. Engage your core, keep your abs tight. Brace your abs like you’re about to get punched in the gut.


4. Look straight ahead. Your neck should be in a neutral position, neither pointed up or down.


5. Place your weight on the heel of your front foot. Your weight should be shifted away from your toes to the middle of your foot and heel.


MUSCLE CONTRACTION/MOVEMENT


1. Start by placing one leg slightly in front of you and your other leg slightly behind you, keeping your legs about hip width apart. Shift most of your weight to your front leg, keeping your back foot on its toes.


Push your hips backward before starting to lower your body. This will help keep your Knee in a safe position during the lunge. Bend your front leg at the knee and lower yourself until your hamstring is about parallel to the floor (90-degree angle at your knee). Try to bend the back knee to a 90-degree angle as well. Be sure to avoid excessive forward movement of the knee past the toes. In general, the knees should be aligned over the second toe so the knee moves in the same direction as the ankle joint . Straighten the front leg as you return to start position and repeat. Switch legs and lunge with the opposite leg in front. Use your front leg to do most of the work, keeping most of your weight in the heel of your front foot. This type of lunge will strengthen your quads and glutes while increasing hip stability.




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