Each month, I will be highlighting a great exercise move to include as part of your workout routine! Up next...
Lunges are fantastic for lower body strength, power and endurance. Thanks to how dynamic they are, you can perform lunges to improve strength, build muscle, or improve muscle power and endurance. Just adapt your lunge to your goal, by adding weights, movement or jumps (see below). Lunges specifically target the quadriceps, hamstrings, calves and glutes.
Another benefit is improving balance and stability, as each lunge requires you to work each side of your body independently. This means your core-stabilising muscles have to work harder too, helping to engage your abs. They are also good for working out any muscle imbalances between your legs as they require each leg to work just as hard as the other.
There are various ways to adapt lunges to keep the progression going:
Weighted lunges – Hold a dumbbell in each hand to add weight to the move so your legs have to work harder. As you progress, you can keep increasing the weight.
Walking lunges – Alternatively if you have the space, try walking lunges to add extra mobility and add cardio work to the move. To do this, perform a lunge as described above then step forward with the back leg and go straight into another lunge. Perform 15 walking lunges in one direction, turn around and do 15 more on the way back.
Jump lunges – If you're feeling particularly energetic and don't have any issues with your knees, try jump lunges. With these, you perform a lunge as above, then propel yourself off the ground as you come up, switch your legs in the air and land in another lunge with the opposite leg forward. Work up to these once you have mastered a basic lunge as they are much more intense thanks to the plyometric (jumping) action. Ensure you land with soft knees to avoid injury.
It's important for your front knee not to drift over your toes, as this will put a lot of pressure on your knee joint.
Nutritionist Emma Brown (ANutr), MSc Human Nutrition is passionate about how food science applies to the human body, and how the nutrients in what we eat affect us and ultimately have an impact on our health.