Strong & toned thighs, lean calves, and a firm posterior – do these sound unattainable? They aren't! Lean eating paired with regular strength training exercises will have you kicking away any doubts you may have. One of the strength training exercises which help strengthen and tone your legs is lunges. Know the benefits of lunges along with some examples of bodyweight lunges and lunges with weights.
Lunges are one of the compound exercises, meaning a single movement works out multiple muscles groups in your body. A lunge activates your hamstrings, quadriceps, calves, and glutes in addition to working out your lower back and abdominal muscles. As lunges work out so many muscle groups, they are an essential exercise if you are trying to burn fat and increase muscle mass.
Lunges are incredibly easy to do, and can be done with or without additional weights. When starting out, it is advised to do lunges using just your bodyweight. When you get accustomed to the exercise, and your legs get stronger, then it is permissible to add weights. There are many variations to lunges, making it one of the most dynamic bodyweight exercises. The variations keep the exercise interesting, and help to create a solid progression for the movement. There is a lot of space for improvement with lunges.
How to Do Bodyweight Lunges?
Bodyweight lunges are lunges done just by using your own body weight, without the help of additional weights. Let us understand how to do bodyweight lunges:
- Stand straight on a firm surface. Your feet should be kept a few inches apart.
- Your upper body should be upright at starting position, and remain upright throughout.
- Pick your right foot up and step forwards slowly. Lower your hips, and bend your right knee until it is positioned at a 90 degree angle.
- Your front knee must not push out over your ankle, and your back knee should not be touching the floor.
- Ensure that your movements are slow, so that your back knee does not touch the floor.
- Put your weight in your heels, and push yourself up to starting position.
- Repeat with left leg up front.
There are variations of bodyweight lunges which you can do to keep up the workout interesting. Some variations of the bodyweight lunge include:
Make sure you perform lunges slowly as to avoid injuries and maintain form. Walking lunges require a lot of space to be able to do the exercise. To do Walking Lunges, after the steps in a regular bodyweight lunge, bring your back foot forwards and step ahead. Continue to perform the regular lunge and move forward in the similar manner.
Rather than working on one leg at a time, alternate your legs after each lunge rep. This keeps it interesting, keeps your legs from getting tired quickly and hence allowing you to perform more lunges.
Known for being great at improving flexibility, the lateral lunge is a quiet step up from a regular bodyweight lunge. In order to this variation of body weight lunge, you take a step towards your right side rather than your front. Keep your left leg straight as you bend towards your right side. Both your feet should stay flat on the ground. Return to starting position, and continue the rep on your left side.
While this is you literally taking a step back, and it poses as much of a challenge as a regular bodyweight lunge! However, this variation has proven to be hugely beneficial for beginners, the obese, and the ones with knee troubles. To do this variation of body weight lunges, stand with your feet together in the starting position. Take a step back with your right foot, and your body slowly. Bend your right knee until it lands on the floor at a 90 degree angle, and with your toes touching the ground. Push yourself off the ground, and stand back in the starting position.
Alternating Lateral Lunge
To do this variation of body weight lunge may pose as a challenge to beginners, or even seasoned trainees, but the alternating lateral lunge helps stretch your upper body out in addition to giving your lower body a solid workout. When you lower yourself down in a lateral lunge on your right side, stretch your left arm across your chest (which should stay high), and touch your right toes. Return to starting position, and then repeat on your left side.
How to Do Lunges with Weights?
Adding weights with your lunges allow you to use more force, and get better results. Let us see how to do lunges with weights.
Stand in your starting position for a regular lunge, but with a dumbbell in each hand. Your arms should be hanging at your side, and your palms should be facing inwards.
Step forwards with your right leg, and perform a regular lunge.
Variations of lunges with weights help avoid the exercises getting monotonous. Some variations of lunges with weights are:
Walking Dumbbell Lunge
This variation of lunges with weights can be done by performing a walking lunge with dumbbells in each hand, or a barbell resting across your upper back.
Dumbbell Reverse Lunge
Another simple variation of lunges with weights is done by holding a dumbbell in each hand while performing a reverse lunge.
Dumbbell Lateral Lunge
While holding a dumbbell in each hand and performing a lateral lunge, be sure that your back is straight and that it is your torso that is leaning forward, not your back. This variation of lunges with weight helps a lot with maintaining good posture.
Lateral Raise Lunge
A regular bodyweight lunge can be leveled further up by holding the dumbbells with your palms facing inwards, and by raising your arms to shoulder-length height on either side as your lower your body into the lunge. Move your arms down slowly as you return to your starting position.
Lunge with Biceps Curl
A regular lunge with weights can be improved by raising your weights into a 90 degree angle bicep curl in both your hands. Lower your arms as you raise your body off the ground.
Know the Benefits of Lunges
Lunges are one of the best exercises that anyone can do, regardless of their goals. Benefits of lunges are many, some important ones are here.
- Benefits of Lunges in Improving Balance – Lunges require you to engage yourself on either sides, thus challenging you to maintain your balance. Thus, the most important benefit of lunges is that they help to improve balance and coordination of the body in a way that most other bodyweight exercises cannot.
- Lunges are Beneficial in Strengthening your Core – Doing lunges require you to activate your abdominal and back muscles, in order to keep your back upright, which means that your core gets strengthened as well. Walking lunges are a fantastic way to strengthen your core muscles because of their motion, another major benefit of lunges.
- Lunges Help Open your Hips Up – Another important benefit of lunges is that they can help prevent lower back pain. Our hips are one of the least flexible body parts and lunges can make them flexible. Our lifestyles have us ignore muscle groups like our hip flexors which cause lower back pain. Lunges make your hips stretch out a bit, giving the flexors a real good workout.
- Lunges Help in Functionality – Another important benefit of lunges is that they can improve our overall functionality. The muscle groups that are worked out by lunges ensure that our day to day activities become easier and our bodies are way more functional.
- Lunges Target Multiple Muscle Groups – Lunges give us a great overall workout, in the way it targets almost all your lower body muscle groups including your glutes and the back. However, even when working your back out, lunges give your spine a good rest. This is one of the greatest benefit of lunges.
Therefore, we can see that lunges simply cannot be left out of your workout if you are looking for a solid lower body exercise routine. The benefits of lunges are many and the variations simply make the exercises more interesting. Now that you know how to do lunges, you can surely make your dream of having a toned and lean pair of legs achievable!