Exercises that use your body weight to strengthen your legs, arms and stomach are extremely effective. Exercises like push ups, pull ups, squats and lunges can be used as both cardiovascular and strength training if you do several sets at once. Learning how to do lunges correctly can help get your quadriceps, hamstrings, buttocks and hips into shape.
1. Forward Lunges
Put on some athletic shoes. Cross-trainers can provide support and comfort during lunge exercises.
- Do not do lunges on an exercise mat because it can slide and move. These exercises are best done on a hard, even surface.
Set yourself up parallel to a mirror. The mirror will help you to align your body properly, so that you do not get injured.
Stand up straight, with your legs hip-width apart. Place your hands on your hips. Flex your abdominal muscles inward and upward.
- Take a moment to relax your chin downward, stand up straighter and relax your shoulders down as far as they will go. It is essential that you keep good spinal posture throughout the duration of the lunge.
Step forward with your right foot approximately 2 or 3 feet. The taller you are, the further you will need to step forward. Keep your back straight as your body moves forward.
Lift your left foot up slightly, so that the toe is in contact with the floor, but your heel is not.
Bend both of your knees at the same time. The aim is to make both of your knees stop at a 90 degree angle. Make sure your right knee does not go over your toe line.
- Check whether you are doing this by looking in the mirror. At this point, you may need to correct your form, especially if you are learning to do lunges for the first time. You may find that your right foot stepped too far forward or did not step far enough forward. Adjust and try again, if necessary.
Pause in this position for 1 to 5 seconds. Stopping your forward momentum will help you to put more effort into rising from the lunge.
Push off of your right heel to rise. Return your right leg to its starting position.
Repeat with the left leg. Check your form in the mirror again and correct if needed. Repeat 10 times on each side, or do 2 to 3 sets of 10.
- To get the full benefit of the training, you will need to lunge until your thigh muscles become fatigued and your heart rate is up. Stop doing the exercise if you are no longer able to hold proper form.
- Increase the difficulty of the lunges by using hand weights. Start by holding 2 pound hand weights in each hand. Hang your arms at your sides. Do your lunge sets while holding the weights. Increase the amount of weight you hold as you get stronger.
2. Walking Lunges
Find an area that has a long stretch of straight, flat ground. A place like a track or a city block will work well.
Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Lunge forward, following the instructions above, with your right foot.
Pause at the bottom and continue through in a walking motion.
3. Side Lunges
Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Face a mirror when you do side lunges for the first time.
Allow your feet to turn out slightly, with your heels closer than your toes. Do not try to achieve a large turnout, as it can injure your knees.
Keep your back straight and your stomach flexed for the entire duration of the exercise. Rest your hands on your hips.
Step out 1 to 2 feet to the right. Your left foot should stay in the same position, while your left leg straightens.
Lower your right knee to down. Make sure the knee never goes past your toes.
- Because your toes are slightly turned out, your knee should also have a slight turnout. It should follow the line of your second toe.
Pause at the bottom of the lunge. Check your form in the mirror and make corrections as needed.
- Test your form by trying to lift the toes on your right foot. Your body weight should be in your heel so you don’t go forward too far.
Push off of your right heel and return to the original position.
Repeat on the left hand side. Repeat 10 times on each side. You can do 1 side 10 times or alternate legs.
- Once you have mastered these types of lunges, you can try doing more difficult lunges. For example, the “explosive lunge” uses the principals of the forward lunge, but you jump out of a right side lunge, switch your legs and land in a left side lunge.
Push off with your left foot. Propel yourself forward as you lift your left leg into a lunge. Lift yourself to standing with your feet hip-width apart.
Pause and lunge forward onto your left foot. Repeat the walking motion for 1 lap or the length of a bloc. Rest for a few minutes and repeat.
- Add difficulty by holding hand weights during your walking lunges.
Adapted from How to do Lunges.