What are lunges?
Lunges are great bodyweight exercises for the lower body. The lunge primarily exercises the thighs (quadriceps and hamstrings) and buttocks (glutes).
The lunge works the body using one leg at a time, simply by stepping forward with one leg and lowering down to work the muscles in the lower body to hold the position.
Lunges can be performed anywhere, with or without extra weights.
This simple exercise is ideal for when you have limited space, as you only need to have room for one step to perform a basic lunge.
How to perform lunges
Lunges are performed by standing with both feet together then taking one giant step forward with one leg. The leading leg should bend to no more than 90 degrees.
Make sure the knee does not move further forward than the toes while lowering. Ideally, the knee should be directly over the ankle with weight supported in the heels.
The back leg stays behind, bent forward resting on the toes with knee bending until about 90 degrees. Make sure this knee does not touch the floor during the bodyweight lunge movement.
Bodyweight lunge technique
When performing bodyweight lunges, the upper body should remain straight with a neutral spine.
Keep your head up and chest out, with abs engaged to protect the lower back and keep good upper body form.
When one lunge is complete, move onto the other leg.
Keep repeating the lunges, holding the position in place as long as you need to feel the muscles working hard.
You can move slowly up and down in the lunge position before changing legs for extra benefits from the single lunge.
If you have enough space, you can also perform the lunge bodyweight exercise while walking forward.
This walking movement can help you get a feel for the distance you need to step forward each time to create the ideal angle for each lunge.
The walking lunge exercise also helps incorporate more or a cardio workout into your lunge exercises.
To make the bodyweight lunge exercise more difficult, try holding dumbbells in each hand to create more weight for your legs and glutes to hold in position.
The dumbbell weight you choose depends on how challenging you want your workout to be. Don’t try to lift too heavy a weight as the focus should be on correct movement throughout the lunge motion.
It is also possible to perform the lunge using a barbell held behind the head, as you do for a barbell squat. This requires strong form and good balance.
The barbell lunge is a more advanced technique, so using dumbbells initially is a good idea so that you can get used to carrying extra weight during the lunge motion.
Lunges combined with overhead press
Alternative lunge techniques include combining the dumbbell lunge with the overhead lift or shoulder press. As you step forward into the lunge position, lift the dumbbells over your head and press upwards.
Keep looking forward throughout the lunge movement, keeping arms straight as you press them up, in line with your back leg
Read about the squat for another bodyweight exercise that strongly targets the lower body.
Do you uses lunges in your bodyweight workout? Which variation on the lunge do you think works best?
Have you ever tried doing lunges with a barbell?