Lunges are an awesome exercise to tone the muscles of the lower body. You can target hips, glutes, and thighs all in one simple motion. When they start to get too easy, you can always grab some dumbbells and make the exercise more challenging. They can be done at home, because you don’t have to do walking lunges. In other words you don’t need a large space, because you can simply perform your lunge and return to the starting position before switching legs and repeating. Lunges can be performed in a small space.
So why don’t more people do lunges? Most exercisers complain of knee pain, especially those who have had knee problems in the past. If done correctly, lunges shouldn’t exacerbate any knee pain, but therein lies the problem: they have to be done properly, and without a personal trainer teaching or watching, they aren’t always done right. Another reason for the added knee pain comes from the over-emphasis on the quads which can cause a slight pull across the front of the knee.
But there is a solution! Backward lunges, or rear lunges, contain all the benefits of regular lunges, but they are safer for those exercisers with past or present knee pain. Here is a list of the benefits of backward lunges and how to do them properly:
- Safer for knees. Backward lunges are safer for the knees because it’s much easier to emphasize the muscles of the glutes, hamstrings, and quads. The pressure is reduced with backward lunges compared to regular lunges, as the tendency with forward lunges is to get the knee too far forward and over the toes.
- More emphasis on glutes. Backward lunges help you focus more of your work on the large glute muscles, and who doesn’t want stronger, larger glutes?
- Dynamic movements. Backward lunges are a great way to warm up and dynamically stretch your muscles.
- Less weight transfer. With regular lunges most of your weight moves to the forward leg, causing added knee pressure and a higher risk for falling off balance. Backward lunges allow the majority of your weight to stay on the back leg. This is much safer and you won’t look silly falling off balance in the gym!
To perform the backward lunge the right way, stand with your legs close together. For beginners, you don’t need to hold dumbbells, so place your hands on your hips. For the more advanced, add dumbbells for weight. Step straight backwards with the right leg, allowing the ball of your right leg to land on the ground. Lunge downward forming two 90-degree angles: one with your right leg, the other with your left (forward leg). There is no need to take your right knee all the way to the ground. You should have the ball of your right foot on the ground and the heel of your left foot solidly on the ground. Your left knee should be in a good line with your toes and well behind them as well. From this point push the heel of your left foot and engage the muscles of the butt, hamstrings and quads to return to the starting position. Now switch legs and repeat the entire process! That’s a backwards lunge!