Move of the month – lunges

Emma Brown - Nutritionist | 27 May, 2022

Each month, I will be highlighting a great exercise move to include as part of your workout routine! Up next...

Lunges

Lunges

How to do it

  1. Start by standing upright, with your feet together and arms by your side, facing forward.
  2. Step one foot forward, about a metre in front of the other – depending on your stride length!
  3. Place your hands on your hips and get your balance. Ensure your toes are pointing forward.
  4. Slowly, lower your back knee towards the ground until it is just an inch or two away from the floor.
  5. Aim for a right angle bend in your front leg, ensuring your knee is in line with your ankle. Avoid your front knee drifting over your toes!
  6. Raise yourself up so your front leg is straight, then repeat by dropping your back knee towards the ground again.
  7. Repeat 15-20 times on one leg. Return to the start position and repeat on the opposite leg. Aim for 3-4 sets of 15-20 repetitions.

What it's good for

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.

Intensify

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.

Pointers

  • Take your time with this move so you can focus on your balance and avoid wobbling from side to side.
  • Really focus on dropping your back knee down towards the ground, rather than leaning forward on your front leg. If your front knee moves forward over your toes, this will put extra strain on your knees.
  • Try to keep your gaze forward to help with balance.
  • Engage your core stomach muscles and keep your back straight to protect your lower back.
  • If performing jump lunges, take your time and be sure to land with soft knees – no stiff, straight legs – to avoid risking injury to your knees.

How NOT to do it

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.

Lunges"

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.