Hi there, my name is Bob, I’m 70 years old, and I’ve been working as a fitness instructor at our local YMCA here in Ontario, Canada for about 40 years now.
In this article, I discuss and then demonstrate how to do a proper lunge with and without weights. Many people find lunges daunting, but if you do it correctly, it shouldn’t be.
It is only a dangerous move if done wrong, and that goes for basically any fitness manoeuvre.
The lunge exercise has played an important role in the fitness world for a very long time.
It could be because the experts realize all the advantages it has for the body, and it is a basic functional body movement that we do almost everyday. Let’s examine this movement a little more closely.
Improve Your Balance with Lunges
The lunge is a great exercise for improving your balance. It is a unilateral exercise, meaning that it works or isolates one side of your body at a time.
We all have a weaker side. For example, most of us are right-handed, and many movements we do with our left side, feel very awkward. The lunge is an exaggeration of walking.
The lunge will not only improve our glutes, hip flexors, quads, and hamstrings, but it will fire up our main core muscles as well.
The 4 main core muscles involved with the lunge movement are the transverse abdomens, the multifidus, the kegel, and the diaphragm.
These 4 muscles help us become more stable and more coordinated.
The Best Functional Exercise of Them All
Many experts in the fitness world hail the lunge as the ultimate functional exercise of all time. Functional exercises are exercises that are natural to our everyday mobility.
Since the lunge is very much like basic walking, except with a wide step out or back or to the side, it definitely falls in the functional fitness realm.
The lunge will increase your body’s symmetry. If your one side is weaker than the other, lunge more on that side to put your body into balance mode. If you do that, exercises such as the squat will improve.
Fight The Sedentary Lifestyle
Have you heard the term “sedentary” before? Sure you have! This term refers to all the sitting around that we do as technology allows us to move less.
About 45 years ago, when the tv remote was introduced into our world of television, we could remain seated and change the channels.
That was the beginning of people becoming less healthy. If we don’t move very often, our muscles such as our hamstrings and our hip flexors shorten in our legs and become very tight.
Over time, this shortening of our muscle fibres can cause many problems, and result in pain. The lunge exercise will force us to lengthen our hip flexors thus, allowing us to become more flexible.
Go Slow, Be Careful, Isolate Your Glutes
If you perform the lunge slowly, and with weights that you can handle without jeopardizing your form, you will be able to isolate parts of your glutes.
This isolation will allow you to work on what needs attention.
Your “bum” muscles play a very important role in the lunge and in walking in general, and can be broken down into 3 main muscle groups the gluteus maximus, the gluteus medium, and the gluteus minimus.
We want to be able to isolate these muscles and bring our “asses” into balance.
When you are in the proper lunge position, whether you are performing a static or a dynamic lunge, you will be required to work all the muscle groups that will ensure that you are safe and can move more easily.
Remember to keep your shoulders over your hips and your earlobes above your shoulders.
The part of your quadriceps on the inside of your knee is called the vastus mediallus oblique, and it should be directly above your second toe next to the big guy.
Do not push your knee past your toes until you can do the basic lunge perfectly most of the time.
Deloading The Spine
Lastly, the lunge is a great way to deload your spine. Your spinal column must work very hard throughout your life, even if you do every movement perfectly.
Some of us are unlucky and we become overweight, or our spine becomes compromised i.e. car accident. As a result, our spinal cord must work harder.
Exercises like the squat add load to your spine. That is the main difference between the squat and the lunge.
The lunge relies on the legs and hips more that the squat, and as a result is a great exercise to relieve back pain. When you do the lunge correctly, your body remains upright, aligned and level.
The spine deserves a break every once in awhile. The lunge will give your spine that rest. Just remember this rule …
“The more active and stable your hip and pelvis are, the more stable your lower back will be.”
Watch my full video below on how to do a proper lunge with and without weights. Comment and tell me what you think!