Wilderness Athlete Lunges

According to the American Council on Exercise, lunges are one of the most effective lower-body exercises and are right up there with the importance of squats. It is hailed by many as the ultimate lower body “functional” exercise because you are essentially training the movement of walking, even though these are massive steps.

Lunges effectively work your glutes and quadriceps while also engaging your hamstrings. Strengthening these large muscle groups can speed up your metabolism, which is beneficial if you’re trying to lose weight. Lunges not only strengthen your legs but with correct form, require you to engage your core to a huge extent. You are forcing your torso to stay upright without using spinal extension to compensate for poor pelvic position asyou lunge up and down.

Lunges also improve the flexibility of your hip flexors, which are the muscles you use to bend or flex your legs at your hips. Often these muscles are neglected, and if you lead a predominantly sedentary lifestyle, they can be tight and trigger the lower back pain we talked about last week.

On top of this, the lunge is a great leg movement to deload the spine, especially when done with dumbbells.  When utilizing the lunge in conjunction with a squat or deadlift you will allow your spine some much-needed relief.

TIPS

The Key: Is start slow 

You get half of the benefits from merely lowering yourself down in a slow and controlled manner.
  • Keep your upper body straight, with your shoulders back and relaxed and your chin up. Look straight ahead and always engage your core.
  • Step forward with one leg, lowering your hips until your front leg hits 90 degrees or your back knee lightly taps the ground. Make sure your front knee is directly above your ankle, not pushed out too far forward. Keep the weight in your heels as you push back up to the starting position.

There are many variations of lunges, including dumbbell lunges, Gobletlunges, overhead lunges etc, so switching it up is a great way to avoid hitting plateaus. No matter the variation, your form will stay the same. The lunge is also an easy move to master because you can do it at home or the gym and with or without weights.

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