The beauty of the forward lunge is its power to tone your lower body as it boosts functional fitness. Lunges prepare your body to tackle many of your daily tasks. That means you are building the muscle and balance you need to keep moving and maintain independence well into your golden years. When comes to lunges – or any exercise really – correct form makes every rep count. Do it wrong and you risk injury or isolate unintended muscles. Go for great lunges…here’s how.
Tip #1 – Master the form
The forward lunge works your quads, glutes and hamstrings. To do it:
• Stand with your upper body straight and shoulders squared. Pull your abs in toward your spine and stare straight ahead. Focus on a fixed object if that helps you keep your chin up.
• Step forward with one leg, lowering your hips until both knees are bent at about a 90-degree angle. Your front knee should be directly above your second toe. Avoid excessive movement. Your back knee should not touch the floor. Keep the weight in your heels as you push back up to the starting position. Continue alternating legs with each rep.
Tip #2 – Check it out
Again, lunges offer the most benefit when you perfect your form. Check yourself in the mirror or ask a gym buddy or trainer to take a look. Give special attention to:
• Your knees – the back knee should be pointing down, a few inches from the floor. The front knee should fairly stable in its placement above your sneaker. Your front thigh should form a straight line from your knee to your hip. Your back foot should be resting on the pads of your toes.
• Your core – your abs should be engaged, your spine erect and your shoulders relaxed, but straight.
• Your hips – push your hips back as your lower your body as an added measure of protection for your knee and patella tendon. This practice is known as hip-hinging.
Tip #3 Don’t be afraid to let your knee travel beyond your toes
According to ACE Exercise Physiologists, it is a myth… that you should “never let your knees go past your toes while doing a squat or lunge.” While it is true that instability of the knee or excessive forward motion can cause damage, there is a caveat. Researchers have found that …exercising to the point where the knee can translate safely over the toes requires the appropriate progression of exercise intensity to achieve the desired range of motion without any adverse effects. In short, more forward motion of the knee is appropriate as fitness levels increase.
Lunges help you maintain functional fitness. That means you can continue to step, climb, jump and run as you age. Lunges also help you tone and sculpt your lower body. Use these tips for the best form to get you in the best form from the bottom up.