Lunges: How To Do It Correctly For Muscle Growth (6 Variations Included)

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What are Lunges? 

Lunges are one of the most effective exercises that develop your lower body strength and endurance. You should already be familiar with lunges as they’re natural and functional, it’s something that you’d likely do every day without realising. For example, when you kneel down to put your shoes on, or when you tie your shoelaces. This article will demonstrate  how to do perfect lunges for beginners as well as covering six variations so that all fitness levels can benefit. 

What muscles are worked by Lunges?

The primary muscles worked by lunges are quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings. The secondary muscles worked are abdominals and calves.

What level are Lunges?

Lunges are a beginners exercise as they’re safe and relatively easy to perform. You can practice them anyplace, anytime, and anywhere. 

How to do Lunges?

1. One Foot In Front Of The Other

Stand in a split stance with right foot forward and left foot back. Your feet should be about 3-4 feet apart, and your hips should be forward and squared.

2. Bend The Knees

Lower your body down by bending both knees at a 90 degrees angle, dropping your upper body vertically straight down, keeping your abs tight and torso straight. Your front leg thigh should be parallel to the floor, and make sure that your front knee is behind your right toe. The back leg knee should be slightly above the ground. Keep your front foot flat on the ground.

3. Push Back Up

Keeping your torso straight by engaging your core, push through with your front heel back to the starting position, keeping the weight in the heel of the front foot. You should feel contraction in your glutes, thighs, and your hamstrings.

4. Switch Sides

After you’ve completed the number of repetitions you’ve set, switch to your left leg and repeat the same number of repetitions.

What is my recommended rep range?

Beginners are recommended to do 8-12 reps, for 4 sets, this will give you a good burn. Intermediate and advance level athletes can implement these four tips below to make their workout more difficult:

  1. Increase Repetitions
  2. Increase Sets
  3. Decrease Rest Time
  4. Implement Different Variations 

What are the benefits of Lunges?

Improve Your Balance

Lunges are a unilateral movement, which means it trains one side of your body separately from the other. This exercise throws your body off balance as you lunge, which forces your core and abdominal muscles to be engaged. A strong core will improve your posture, create a better balance, and reduce your back pain. The more you perform lunges and use different variations and weights, the more your balance will improve over time. Lunges work on your proprioceptive nerves to react to positional changes much quicker, which enhances your body’s ability to balance.

Improve Your Spinal Health

For those of you who have back pain, you will benefit from this exercise the most, thanks to a little something called spinal deloading. Most weight lifting exercises compress your spine. This isn’t a negative in itself, but over time it can cause pain and inflexibility.  On the other hand, Lunges permit your spine an occasional rest and a chance to relax. This creates a more flexible and pain free spine.

Improve Glute activation

This exercise will give you a tighter butt and sculpting it to make it look all round better. People often do squats to get the butt shaping effects they want, however, lunges are just as effective, if not better because it gives greater balance and coordination benefits.

Increase Everyday Function

It is a good way to train for everyday movements such as Lunges emulate walking as well as going up the stairs. So by training this, your legs will become more powerful and your everyday activities will feel easier. In today’s world, people often spend most of their day sitting in front of computer screens, this creates inflexibility, which limits our range of motion and causes mobility issues as we grow old. Lunges can help prevent that!

Many Variations

There are many variations to the Lunges ranging from beginner, intermediate and advance level. This will help to prevent monotony and increase incentives for you to get out there and rock your workout.

What are the different variations to Lunges?

Side Lunges/Lateral Lunges

This variation targets your glutes, quadriceps,  hamstrings, and as well as your inner thigh muscles. To do a side lunge:

  1. Begin by standing tall with feet hip-width apart.
  2. Take a large step out to the right (around 3-4 feet). Bend your right knee as you push your hips back. Make sure both feet are flat on the floor throughout this movement..
  3. Push off with your left leg to return to the starting position. Perform this for a number of repetitions you’ve set for yourself.
  4. Switch to left leg and continue the motion

Walking Lunges

This works on the same muscles as Lunges, but it may help to improve your cardiovascular health more as it raises your heart rate from the additional movement. To do a Walking Lunge:

  1. Start by performing a Lunge with your right leg lunging forward. Keep both knees around 90 degrees.
  2. Rather than returning to a standing position, you’d start to lunge forward with your left leg so it’s now in a lunge position. Your right leg should stay in place to stabilize you.
  3. Continue this walking motion, alternating between both legs for a number of reps you’ve set out. 

Reverse Lunges

Reverse Lunges are great lower body strengthening exercises, they work on the same muscle grounds as Lunges. To perform this you should:

  1. Begin by standing tall with feet hip-width apart.
  2. Step backward with your right foot, gently landing on the ball of your right foot and keeping your right heel off the ground. Bend both knees at around 90 degrees as you lower into a lunge. Keep your core engaged and your torso straight. Place your hands on you hips to maintain balance and posture
  3. Return back to the starting position by pushing through the heel of your left foot too. Do this for a number of repetitions you’ve set. 
  4.  Switch to the left leg, and repeat the same number of repetitions.

Curtsey Lunges

This is a great exercise to stabilise your hips, the movement is somewhat different than the Lunge. You would  hold your lower body in the position of a curtsey for further glute firming. To do a Curtsey Lunge:

  1. Begin by standing tall with feet hip-width apart.
  2. Draw a semicircle with your right foot, moving it clockwise to the left  until it goes past behind your left foot. You can put your hands on your hips or clasp them together in front of your chest to help find balance. Keep your right toe tucked.
  3. Lunge down until both knees are at approximately 90 degrees.Your right knee should be 1-2 inches off the floor.
  4. Slowly return to the standing curtsey starting position.
  5. Repeat this movement on the other leg for the number of repetitions you’ve set out.

Jumping Lunges

Jumping Lunges are a great lower body and a cardio workout. The explosive movement helps shed fat from the lower body, as well as toning your butt and legs. To do a Jumping Lunge:

  1. Begin by standing tall with feet hip-width apart.
  2. Instead of stepping, jump forward into a deep Lunge position with your right foot forward. Engage your core throughout this movement. 
  3. Drive both feet into the floor and explosively launch your body vertically upward, fully extending your knees and hips.
  4.  Switch legs in midair and land safely with your left leg forward, lowering into the lunge to cushion your landing. You can swing your arms to help with the momentum.
  5. Continue to jump, alternating between both feet on which foot to land in front each time.

Forward Lunges

The Forward Lung is more functional that static Lunge. It mimics the motions of your everyday activities such as walking, or walking up the stairs. It is an advanced version of the static Lunge. To do Forward Lunges:

  1. Stand tall tall with feet hip-width apart.
  2. Take a big step forward with your right leg (around 4 feet), and shift your weight forward so that your heel lands on the floor first. Lower your body by bending both knees and approximately 90 degrees. Your right thigh is parallel to the floor and your front knee should not go past your right toes.
  3. Press into the right heel to drive back up to the starting position.
  4. Repeat on your left leg.

All Lower Body Exercises

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