How to work those hips, knees and toes

 

The lunge is a movement that places the hip in an extended position, but its special gift is its ability to place one hip in ‘extension’ and the other in ‘flexion’ at the same time, so helping with flexibility and mobility as well as general fitness.

To perform the lunge correctly:

  • take one step forward (either leg) while keeping the other static
  • maintaining a neutral spine and upright torso, ‘sit’ straight down through your hips, bending both the front and back knee
  • keep your feet pointed forward (adopt a wider stance for better balance)
  • drop all the way down, until just before your back knee touches the ground
  • hold this position for a second and then come straight back up

When dropping down, really push your feet into the ground, applying forward pressure on the front foot and backward pressure on the rear foot.

Once you have completed a set with one leg leading forward (with the number of reps determined by your fitness levels) switch legs.

Static or mobile?

The movement as described is a static lunge, where your body is effectively moving up and down all the while staying in the same spot, but all the same principles apply if you wish to perform walking lunges, carrying dumbells, as your fitness and technique improves.

Why lunges are important in weight training

As already mentioned, exercise places one hip in ‘extension’ and the other in ‘flexion’ at the same time. Hip flexion is more usually focused on in that other essential movement, the squat, but if you are a strength athlete it is important to maintain balance in your hips. So, if you just perform hip flexions, without hip extensions, this may lead to some potential imbalances, which in the longer term might result in unnecessary injuries.

By simply adding some lunges into your program not only will you maintain balance in your hips and reduce the risk of unnecessary injury, but the quality of your squat will benefit too.

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Alex is a registered Master Trainer and Nutritional Advisor with Level 4 qualifications in obesity and diabetes. He is also a strength specialist and a Ni Dan in Shotokan Karate.

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