MUSCLES IT WORKS

Gluteals (Butt), Quadriceps (Front of Thighs), Hamstrings (Back of Thighs)

HOW TO DO IT

Hold one dumbbell in each hand, or a body bar with both hands slightly wider than shoulder-width with the bar laid across your shoulders behind your head. (The body bar should rest on the padding of your back just below your neck.) Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart. Step your right foot forward about 3 feet (the distance may be more or less depending on your height) and bend your right knee to no more than 90 degrees. As you bend, your left knee should lower close to the ground, but should not touch the ground. Your weight should be evenly distributed on all parts of your right foot, and your left heel should be lifted off the ground. Exhale as you engage your right butt muscles and right leg and press backwards to the standing position. Repeat by stepping your left foot forward.

You can also do a backwards lunge, by stepping your right foot behind you about 3 feet (keeping your right foot directly in line with your right hip) and bending your left knee to no more than 90 degrees. Your weight should be evenly distributed on all parts of your left foot, and your right knee and heel should be lifted off the ground. Exhale as you engage your left butt muscles and leg and press through your right foot back to the standing position. Repeat by stepping your left foot backwards.

SETS & REPS
Do 3 to 5 sets of 10 repetitions (reps) on each leg (20 reps--10 on each leg--equals 1 set)

TIME
Do 1 to 3 sets at 60 seconds on each leg.

WEIGHT OR RESISTANCE
5- to 12-lb dumbbells; 9- to 24-lb. body bar; or resistance band (green or red). Most men will start at the upper end of the dumbbell range (or use a heavier body bar); most women will start at the lower end (less weight).

EQUIPMENT NEEDED
Dumbbells or body bar

DON'T DO THIS MOVE IF
Modify this move if you have knee problems, or don't do it all if you have knee pain.

HOW TO KNOW IF YOU'RE DOING IT RIGHT
You should feel your gluteals (butt), quadriceps (front of your upper legs), and hamstrings (back of your upper legs) working during this exercise. To maintain correct form, keep your chest lifted, abdominals (stomach muscles) engaged, tailbone tucked, forward knee directly over your ankle throughout the lunge, and both feet pointed forward. Focus on keeping your shoulders directly over your hips to maintain your form. If you cannot keep your chest lifted, remove the body bar from behind your head and try one of the modifications described below. If your abdominals are not engaged or your tailbone is not tucked, you will notice an arch in your low back. A common mistake while doing lunges is to turn the back foot inward or outward: Make sure both feet are pointed forward for any kind of lunge you do.

HOW TO MAKE IT EASIER
If bending your knee to 90 degrees and lowering your hips causes any pain in the front knee don't sink as deep into the lunge, but instead lunge at 45 to 90 degrees. You can also do the squat instead to strengthen the area around the knees before progressing to the lunge.

To make this exercise easier, you can also do lunges with body weight only (no extra weight), or a supported lunge. Keep your chest lifted and your hands at your sides as you do the lunge.

To do a supported lunge, place your hand on the back of a chair, wall, body bar, or other stationary object. To use a body bar for support, hold one end of the body bar in your hand, and balance the other end of the bar on the ground (so that body bar is upright) If your right foot is forward, place your left hand on the object of support, and if your left foot is forward, place your right hand on the object that's supporting you.

HOW TO CHALLENGE YOURSELF OR PROGRESS
If you can do 2 additional repetitions per set or complete 60 seconds without getting tired, consider adding repetitions, time, and/or sets.  For example, instead of doing 10 repetitions for 3 sets, try 15 repetitions for 3 sets. To increase intensity without changing sets or time, try adding weight. You can also try other lunge variations, including the walking lunge, walking lunge with a torso twist, standing lunge, side lunge, or jumping lunge.

A walking lunge is essentially a combination of the forward and backward lunge You can use a body bar, dumbbells, or just body weight. Step your right foot forward, lowering your hips into the lunge position. Exhale as you engage your right gluteals (butt) and leg, step forward with your left foot, and lower into the lunge position again. Exhale as you engage your left gluteals and leg, step forward with your right foot, and lower into the lunge position again. Continue alternating right and left legs through a set of walking lunges.

To add more challenge, you can twist your torso towards the forward leg during each lunge (stationary or walking). For example, if your right foot is forward, lengthen through the spine as you twist to the right while in the lunge. Your hips and feet should continue to face forward as you twist and your shoulders should stay level and aligned; do not allow your forward shoulder (in this example, the left shoulder, which is twisting to the right) to drop lower than your back shoulder. Continue alternating right and left legs, twisting your torso in each lunge.

To do a standing lunge, step your right foot forward about 3 feet (depending on height) with your left foot directly behind you. Inhale as you bend your right knee and lower your hips down into the lunge position. Exhale as you engage the right leg and straighten it again. When doing standing lunges, do one full set on each leg before switching legs. . In addition, your hips should move in a straight line down and up, and your back heel will stay lifted off the ground throughout the set.

Side lunges are a very challenging exercise that should only be tried after mastering the lunge and squat. You may also consider using an object to support you (for example, a body bar) or doing the side lunge with body weight only. To do a side lunge, step your right foot out to the right about 3 feet (depending on your height). Shift your body weight towards the right as you bend your right knee and lower into the side lunge. Make sure that your right hip and right foot are directly in line with each other. A common mistake is to angle the right toes outward when stepping to the right; keep the right toes pointed forward. Shift your weight into your right heel. Exhale as you push into the ground with your right foot, engage your right gluteals (butt) and leg, and step to the left, coming back to the starting position. Alternate right and left side lunges by repetitions or sets. Focus on keeping your chest lifted, abdominals strong, and your tailbone tucked. Your torso should stay upright throughout the side lunge.

To do a jumping lunge, remove the body bar from behind your head, hold a lighter set of dumbbells in each hand, or just use body weight (no added weight). Lower down into a standing lunge with your right foot forward as described above. Once you reach the bottom of the lunge, push through your legs and jump. While in the air, switch legs and bring your left foot forward and your right foot behind you. When landing back on the ground, immediately lower into the next repetition. Do not land with your legs straight. Continue alternating right and left lunges as you jump. Jumping lunges should be performed at a fast pace and will raise your heart rate quickly while challenging your gluteals and legs.


RELATED STORIES:

Lunge + Lateral Raise + Triceps Dip + Jumping Lunge

Lunge + Shoulder Raises + Bridge

Walking Lunge + Triceps Dip + Bicep Curl

 

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