The lunge works the entire leg and can be done without any equipment

and there are a few different kinds of lunges. The one I describe here focuses on hamstrings and glutes (back of the thighs and butt). It also works many other muscles in your leg such as those around your hip, knee, ankle and your core for stability. You may hear this lunge being called the “Back Lunge” because you step back first.

The thighs and butt are two areas I get asked about most frequently.

Women want to know how to tighten the back of their legs, lift their derriere, and make their legs more shapely. Men also like to have great looking legs and backside, and they like exercises that challenge to multiple muscles including the core. The lunge does all of that and then some.

I like the lunge better than the squat for three reasons,

all mainly due to the “split stance” of your legs:

– It allows more freedom of movement in your back, hips, and knees. Modifications can easily be made based on your body type and flexibility.

– It reduces the pressure on your low back because your legs are open and parallel.

– More muscles of your body are strengthened, because of the work they have to do to keep your balance. Additional muscles strengthened during the lunge include the smaller muscles of the glutes, the quads, the outer and inner thigh muscles, the abs, as well as muscles in the ankle and foot.

Don’t be fooled by the fads.

You’ve got to work hard for great legs and glutes, and you’ve got to do more than floor exercises (lying on a mat). Form is also important to get results while keeping your back, knees and ankles healthy.

Get more details in the video or read on below.

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Lunge Screen Shot 2

This is basic exercise information for the general public. If you have injuries or other physical limitations, this exercise may not be appropriate.

The Bare Basics:

Step one foot back and bend the knee as if you were going to kneel but don’t actually touch your knee to the ground. Then stand back up. Make sure your front knee stays behind your front toes throughout the movement.

Stay safe, follow this guide:

– When you bend your knees, they must be pointing the same direction as your toes. More specifically, try to get the center of your kneecap to point over your middle toe, or as close to that as possible.

– Bend your front knee only as far as it feels comfortable. If it hurts your knee, don’t go there.

– In bent-knee position, keep your front knee behind your toes (that’s anywhere from the ankle to the tips of the toes. Find what feels best for you.). Put little to no weight in your front toes. Dig your heel into the floor to help pull yourself up to standing.  Once you’re in the standing position, distribute your weight evenly between the heel and ball of the foot, inner and outer foot, and squeeze your glutes and hamstrings forward just a little.

– Pull your lower abs in slightly throughout the exercise. This will protect your low back and help you to have more balance.

– Breathe. Keep your breath moving in and out. It’s most helpful to exhale during the hard part of the exercise, which is usually moving from bent knee to standing.

– Before doing a serious exercise like this, warm up to keep your hips, knees and ankles working well for a long time. If you’re doing a fast, at-home workout, you’ll find a short warm up with an active stretch here.

*Some of my clients have a little knee pain when doing lunges at first and many times it’s due to the way they’re doing the exercise. I’ll take some time with them to find a pain-free knee placement (alignment of their knee with the hips and foot). It’s almost always there, you just have to find it. Once you find it, practice it until it comes natural. 

Increase the Intensity:

Do as many repetitions as you can on each leg and try to make it even on both sides. Once you can do more than 20 repetitions on each side, move to the next level, or take more weight in your hands. Here are the levels in the video:

Level 1.) If you’ve never done lunges, stand next to a wall, table or chair – something to hold on to for support. Bend and straighten your knees as described in the bare basics above. Keep your feet in place.

Level 2.) Once you’re comfortable lunging in place, go from semi-kneeling position to bringing the feet back together in standing position. Repeat.

Level 3.) Do the lunge without holding on to anything. Initially you’ll find the challenge is mainly with balance.

Level 4.) Once you can do 20 lunges without holding on to a wall or a chair, and you feel balanced and confident that you won’t fall, begin to do your lunges with a small weight in each hand. Gradually increase the weight as you feel comfortable.

Are lunges part of your workout?