The Beginner’s Guide to Lunges

Lunges are one of the top bodyweight exercises that you can do. Although they look simple, they are beneficial, as they require mobility, core strength, and balance. The added plus is that you can do lunges anywhere.

Lunges work several muscle groups simultaneously, focusing on your quads, glutes, calves, hamstrings, abs, and lower back.

Let’s look at the fundamentals of this exercise so that you can do them with the correct form to get maximum benefits.

How to do forward lunges

Here’s how to do the classic form of forward lunges.

  1. Step your left foot out in front of you so that you’re standing in a split, landing heel first. Your left foot should be 2-3 feet in front of your right foot. Ensure that your back is straight and that your core is engaged, with your hands on your hips.
  2. Raise your right heel off the ground so that the weight is on the ball of your right foot. Now bend both knees while lowering your body down. Your right knee should come to just above the floor. Your left thigh should come down until it is parallel with the floor, with your right knee facing the floor.
  3. Press into your left heel to come back up into your starting position. Repeat for as many reps as needed, then do the same on the other side.

Assisted forward lunges

If you need to support yourself for balance, start with assisted lunges. All you need to do is hold onto something with one hand, such as a doorway, a park bench, or a chair.

Stand to the side of your source of support, and do the forward lunges as described above.

Another way of making lunges easier is to do a split squat. Split squats are similar to lunges except that you keep your feet apart and in place while you move your torso down and then up again.

If you have any concerns with your knees, split squats may be an excellent way to get into lunges gently. Split squats allow you to easily control the depth of movement so that you can move as much or as little as you are able.

A forward lunge challenge

If forward lunges come quickly to you, consider adding a Victorem resistance band. Wrap the band around your thighs before you begin, and you’ll find it more challenging to get down into those lunges.

How to do reverse lunges

Reverse lunges are similar to forward lunges, except you’re stepping back instead of forward. Here’s what it looks like in detail.

  1. As with forward lunges, start by standing tall. With your left foot, take a step backward to land on your toes (the ball of your left foot). You can rest your hands on both hips or hold a chair or bench with one hand if you need support to balance.
  2. With your core engaged, bend your knees (keeping both hips facing forward). Come down until your right foot is below your knee, with your right thigh being parallel to the ground. Your left knee should be close to the ground without touching down.
  3. To come back out of the position, push up from your right heel to come back to your starting position. Repeat for the number of reps as needed, then do the same movement on the other side.

Variations on reverse lunges

Remember that you can build up your strength by first using a chair, bench, or doorway. Stand sideways to your source of support and hold on with one hand. The other hand can rest on your hips.

If you want to add in an extra challenge, wrap a resistance band around your thighs before performing your lunges.

You could also do split squats in this same position.

Reverse lunges vs. forward lunges

So why would you opt for reverse lunges if the movement is so similar?

First of all, reverse lunges might be easier to do if you are new to lunges. Reverse lunges require most of your weight to be on the foot that doesn’t move. Because forward lunges put the weight on the foot that moves forward, shifting weight might make balance more difficult.

Secondly, if you have fragile knees, reverse lunges can be kinder to your joints. Doing forward lunges calls for a movement that is similar to walking down a hill. Try a reverse lunge and see if this feels easier to you.

Both styles of lunges are useful as part of your workout, but you may want to start with reverse lunges if you are a beginner. Try both kinds and see!

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