Lunges are a type of lower body exercise that is good for toning your thighs and hips. This exercise forms a part of almost all workout regimes that target weight loss and core muscle training. They help increase your muscle mass and muscle strength. They also shape and tone your body, especially your legs, butt, and core.
Lunges target the following muscles:
- Gluteal muscles (butt muscles)
- Quadriceps (front thigh muscle)
- Hamstrings (hind thigh muscle)
- Abdominals (core muscle)
- Lower back muscles
- Calves (back of the leg)
Lunges also help improve overall fitness and enhance your athletic performance.
What other benefits do lunges offer?
Regular sets of lunges increase your lean muscle mass. This helps improve your metabolism, which helps you shed off those extra pounds.
Balance and stability
Since you need to balance on one leg while bending and lowering your body, lunges help improve your balance. The balancing act forces your back muscles to work harder and improves your stability.
You get strong, stable, core and lower back muscles with lunges. You avoid hunching often and hence you look taller. The overall activity helps improve your posture and helps avoid back injuries due to prolonged sitting.
How to perform a lunge exercise?
Also known as a regular lunge and static lunge, the stationary lunge forms the foundation of all lunge variations. Here is how you do it:
- Stand with the right foot forward and the left leg at back. The distance between the feet should be about 2-3 feet. This is known as split stance, and it requires you to balance on one leg. Initially, you can make use of a wall or chair to hold on to if you think you can lose balance. Check your posture. Your torso should be upright, tummy tucked in, core engaged, your shoulders pushed back, and chin lifted. Look straight ahead. The hind leg must be such that the heel is off the ground.
- Now, lower the body down until the back knee lies a few inch up the floor. Make sure you feel a strain on the thigh and not your knees.
- While you lower your body, make sure the front knee is not going beyond the front toe. The front thigh should be parallel to the floor and the knee of the hind leg should point toward the floor. Try to balance the weight with both legs.
- Get up from the position by pushing the back up. While doing so, you should keep the weight in the heel of the front foot.
- Perform 10 to 12 lunges for one side and then switch sides.
Stationary lunges help strengthen your glutes, quadriceps, and hamstrings. For the most part, your weight is on your front leg and you use your back leg to balance and support your entire body.
What benefits do other types of lunges offer?
There are many ways and variations in which you can perform lunges. A few of the easy ones are:
- Standing tall with your feet hip-width distance apart.
- Take a wide step out to the right. Bend your right knee as you push your hips back.
- Push off with your right leg to return to the standing position.
- Perform 10 to 15 lunges on the left side before switching to the right.
Side lunges strengthen your side to side movements and help develop balance and stability. They work your inner and outer thighs. Targeting your quadriceps, hips, and legs at a slightly different angle allows these muscles to work differently than other types of lunges.
- Stand up straight with your feet shoulder-width apart. You can place your hands on your hips or at your sides.
- Slightly lean forward and take a step forward with your right leg. Put all your weight on your right heel.
- Bend your right knee at a 90-degree angle and lower down into a lunge position. Staying on your left leg’s toes.
- Repeat the same movement with your left leg without moving your right leg.
- Alternate legs as you walk forward.
- You can do 10 to 15 repetitions on each leg and repeat with two to three sets.
The walking lunges help strengthen your core (belly), hips, and glutes. They improve overall stability, increase your range of motion, and help to improve your functional everyday movements. They also reduce a few inch at your hips.
To make walking lunges more challenging, consider adding weights or a torso twist.
If you are keen on performing other variations of lunges and have additional concerns, do not hesitate to ask a fitness expert. They can recommend the type most appropriate for you and help you avoid injuries by observing your posture while performing the lunges.
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Ashmore A. The Benefits of Unilateral Training. American Council on Exercise. June 18, 2018. https://www.acefitness.org/education-and-resources/professional/expert-articles/7035/the-benefits-of-unilateral-training/