The Big Six Breakdown: The Lunge
Of all the Big Six movements we perform at Resilient Fitness (RF), the lunge seems to be the one that gets the biggest reaction. Love it or hate it, the lunge is a crucial part of strength training and important in overall lower body strength and function. In this article, we’ll talk about why the lunge matters, how it can be applied, and the most common variations we use at RF.
Lunges are an effective lower body movement because they incorporate almost all of the large muscle groups of your legs– the hips, glutes, hamstrings, quads, and calves are all being challenged during the lunge. Also, unlike the squat and most hinges, the lunge trains single-leg strength; that is, it is a unilateral movement where the athlete can focus on training one leg at a time. This is helpful not only in determining any strength imbalances between the right and left sides but also to work on balance, coordination, and core strengthening. Additionally, depending on the lunge variation and the plane it is being performed in (think reverse vs lateral lunges), lunges can target specific muscle groups or replicate functional movements the athlete may be struggling with outside of the gym.
For all of its benefits, one of the most challenging parts of the lunge is setting the body up correctly. Though lunges will ultimately look a little different for each individual based on their body morphology, there is a specific way we prefer to instruct the lunge setup at RF. For a stationary lunge, set up with both legs standing about hip width apart. Then, step so one foot is in front of and parallel to the opposite foot. The foot behind should be up on the toe while lunging. Then, bend both knees and drop your body down towards the floor, not forward. Your knee should remain over your ankle and your chest should remain upright throughout the movement. Additionally, your weight should be evenly distributed between both legs. As you bring your body back to a standing position, be sure to squeeze your glutes.
Photo Credit: https://www.spotebi.com/exercise-guide/lunges/
From this setup, variations can be added. Moving lunges, including forward, reverse, and walking lunges, all begin with the aforementioned setup. At RF, we know the importance of training your body in multiple planes, so we also include lateral lunges and single-leg movements that encourage strength training in all directions. This is due to the fact that in life outside of the gym, we are rarely just moving forward. We turn, twist, sidestep, and have to interact and move within our environment.
Although they usually aren’t a favorite movement, lunges are invaluable to building a well-rounded strength training program. So, embrace the lunge!