Did we mention no equipment is necessary, except for gravity? For all their benefits, lunges are only effective if done with good form and technique. For whatever reasons, they are hard for most people to execute properly. After 30 years of teaching lunges, we thought we’d share some of the wrong and right ways to get a leg up on your lunges!
Most common errors:
* front knee too far forward
* back knee too close to the ground
* back foot diagonal, putting it out of alignment
* upper body leaning forward
* feet too close together
* leading with toes (for moving lunges)
* knee, hip, toes and heel square to front (if there is knee torque, use the knee as the gauge)
* feet hip distance apart
* front knee directly above the ankle
* back knee at a 90 degree angle, several inches off the floor
* upper body lined up – head over heart over hips
* leading with heel (for moving lunges)
Don’t lurk. Don’t lurch. Lunge! While you’re at it, according to the American Council on Exercise, an excellent weight loss combination is lunges and walking uphill. Say, did we ever show you our video about uphill walking?
Which do you prefer, lunges or squats? Or lurches?
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Sad and sorry news — tight, short hip flexors don’t indicate strong hip flexors. Happy news — You can get the whys and ways to strengthen your hip flexor muscles when you click this link.If you sit a lot, you probably have short, contracted hip flexor muscles that need stretching. But how? Click To Tweet
Basically, any time you lift the knee, such as in a kickbox cardio class, a squat, a step class, a walk up a hill, an incline on cardio equipment — you are contracting hip flexors. Whenever you extend your leg to the front you are contracting the quads. Time to stretch those babies, but not by committing the most common form faults (which can really stress the knee, by the way). Watch our video to get incredible, amazing, unsurpassed, exemplary form. Find out whether you are guilty of any of the most common wrong ways.
Photo credit: archive.org Public Domain
Alexandra: Hmm, this is Alexandra, and I’m not sure what happens at :22 in the video, but I would like to thank Zensah for the orange compression sleeves. They rule!
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA
Kymberly: Not liking to stab in the dark–poke, poke, scream of pain!– I will say I must guess into the wilderness as to the reasons for the different effects. One guess as to what happened was you powered your downstroke of the bike with your quads and your upstroke with your glutes and hamstrings. Most likely you also had your toes closer to your body than your heel (flexed foot or dorsiflexion), especially on the downstroke. That means your calf was not involved that much as it was in slight extension. Your friend most likely had her toes pointed away from her (plantarflexion) throughout the work, which is very common, though not ideal. Therefore her calf was in slight contraction. Is one way wrong? Depends on your goal. But generally it is considered good form and far more powerful to work as you did and NOT to put the load into the calf.
Alexandra: I’m not sure if you’re saying it was a recumbent bike or if you just like to lower the heck out of your seat on the indoor cycle, but we’ll start at recumbent;
Was your friend’s seat farther back than yours, relative to leg length? Because if her seat was way back, she might have had to point her toes a lot (back to plantarflexion) to reach the pedals, which would put her into a calf contraction – and not the kind that leads to cute little baby moos.
If you were on an upright bike with a really low seat, that could also contribute to the different results, depending on whether your toes were up or down.
Were you a good witch or a bad witch? But then, if your seat was too low, your knees will hurt soon anyway, so who cares about the calf ache?
What has been your experience with indoor cycles and your muscles? How pointy are your toes when you cycle?
Photo credits: Creative Commons