The Benefit Of Lunges – A Very Versatile Exercise

Thanks for stopping by! Today I want to talk about the benefit of lunges, which are one of my absolute favorite exercises.  In this post, I will discuss the basics of lunges, as well as variations that you can do on this great exercise.  If you are interested in an awesome lower body exercise, please keep reading.Me doing walking lunges

My story

I have back problems and have been dealing with back pain for about 20 years.  You can read my full story here.  Lunges are an excellent exercise for me in so many ways and I will get into that in more detail in this post.

Lunges are often kind of a forgotten exercise, or at least that was the case for me.  When I injured my back in 2015, it was because I was so focused on heavier lifting, like squats and deadlifts, which were not really the best thing given my history of back problems.  Throw in bad form, and you have a recipe for disaster.

When you do lunges, you are targeting the same muscle groups that you do with heavier lifts, like squats, but you are just working those muscles in different ways.  By working your muscles differently, you can make performance gains.

I get bored easily

Working out is something that I do for a variety of reasons:

  • It gets me out of the house
  • Helps to strengthen my body in defense of back problems
  • Helps me to de-stress

These are all great reasons to work out, but you know what?  I get bored doing the same thing over and over. In my opinion, it is always good to mix things up when you are working out.  By changing your routine, or adding new variations to traditional lifts, you can break through a plateau, or just keep from getting bored.

So I recommend trying walking lunges, if you have never done them before, it’s a great exercise, or if you are looking for a way to change up your leg day.

Benefit of lunges

Lunges are what you call a unilateral exercise, meaning they work on each side of your body independently. Unilateral exercises are great because they help with balance, stability and core strength and don’t allow you to compensate one side over the other.

These are excellent tools to add to your arsenal whether you are a professional athlete, or just trying to keep up with your kids.  Lunges are a great exercise no matter what your fitness level is.

Another awesome benefit of lunges is they are easier on your joints than many other exercises. With squats, you are putting a lot of pressure on your knees, hips, and back.  Lunges are a great alternative to squats or an excellent complement as well.

Who are lunges good for?

Really anyone, no matter what your fitness level is.  These are great to add to your existing routine, to change things up, or to work your legs in a different way.

Lunges are excellent for people with back problems since there is little impact.  These are dynamic movements that are great for people of all ages and activity levels.

Muscled worked

Lunges work so many different muscles including your quads, hamstrings, glutes, even your calves.  All of these muscles have to work together to keep you stabilized and balanced as you perform lunges. Lunges also engage your core muscles so this is really a full body, compound movement. You will also feel that different lunge variations work your muscles in different ways.

For example, a lateral lunge will engage your gluteus medius which is located toward the top and side of your hip. The glute medius helps with side-to-side movements.

Lunge vs squat

Squats and lunges do work for the same muscle groups but in different ways.  The biggest difference is that squats are a bilateral exercise, meaning you work both legs at the same time.  With squats, you build more muscle compared to a lunge.  But a lunge helps you with stability and balance, which can give you an edge with athleticism.

If you can do both squats and lunges, it’s great to do both.  Some people have limitations that keep them from performing squats, so lunges are a great alternative. If you can do both exercises, you can add performance gains that you might not see with just squats or lunges exclusively.

Lunge variations

There are a lot of variations you can do with lunges, so let’s get into that now. Add one or many to your workout for a well-balanced lower body.

Walking lunges

One of my favorites!  This is a great exercise for your legs and core.  With walking lunges, you step forward into a lunge and then return to standing. You can rinse and repeat this exercise as many times as you want.

I do walking lunges about 3 times per week and I do 4 sets of 25 steps and I do this 3 times for a total of 300 reps.  I don’t use any weights, I am in it for endurance, balance, and stability…I try not to fall over!

  • Stand with your feet about shoulder width apart. If you are using dumbbells, hold them at your sides with your palms facing in.
  • Start with your right foot and take a fairly large step forward. Bend your right leg so your thigh is parallel with the ground.  Ideally, you want your right knee and ankle to be in alignment.
  • Your back leg (left) will be bent about 90 degrees.
  • Keep your back straight and your core tight throughout this movement.
  • Continue walking and alternating this movement.

Reverse Lunge

This lunge variation is great for your butt.  I experience some knee pain also from an old injury and I feel like the reverse lunge is easier on my knee because I am more stable stepping backward.

  • The same setup as a walking lunge, feet shoulder-width apart. Again, if using dumbbells, hold them at arms-length at your side palms facing in.
  • Keep your back straight and core tight and take a big step backward with your right leg. You will end up in the same position as the walking lunge, but in this case, your right leg is bent 90-degrees and your left leg is forward with your thigh parallel to the ground.  In the previous example, you started with the right leg forward.
  • Pause for a second, and then return to standing.
  • Rinse and repeat on the other side.

Front lunge

This is probably pretty easy to follow; it’s the opposite of the reverse lunge.

  • Start with your feet shoulder width apart, dumbbells or not, it’s up to you.
  • Remember to keep your core tight and your back flat.
  • Take a step forward with either foot.
  • Lower your body down until your front thigh is level with the ground.
  • Your back leg will be bent 90 degrees at the knee and let your knee hover just above the floor.
  • Hold this position for a second or two, then return to standing.
  • Do this alternating sides.
  • You can do as many reps as you want.

Lateral Lunge

These are a great unilateral exercise for your glutes (butt), quads and adductor (inner thigh) muscles and they help to build hip stability.  One thing I am struggling with at the moment is my hips, so lateral lunges are great for me.

This movement is different than the others I have discussed because you are moving side to side instead of to the front or back.

I love lateral movements because this is something we do every day. If you are getting in and out of the car, changing directions when you are running or walking, require lateral movement.  A lot of stuff we do in daily life requires us to move side to side.

  • Again you start with or without any weights, feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Keep your core tight and take a big step to the left with your left leg.
  • Be sure to keep your back straight and bend into your left knee, sitting back into your butt.
  • You want your left thigh parallel to the floor.
  • Keep your right leg straight through this motion.
  • Rinse and repeat on the other side.
  • Keep your toes, hip and knee aligned, working your butt and thighs.

If you are just starting out, try these with no weights, it’s not as easy as you think.  If you find it’s too easy, then grab some dumbbells and increase the load.

Another adjustment you can make, start out going only part way down. You can always add more of a deeper lunge as you advance.

Conclusion: Benefit of lunges

A few things I would really like to emphasize are:

  • You can do lunges anywhere, at the gym, at home, when you are traveling, etc
  • Keep your core engaged throughout the movement
  • Modify lunges to meet your needs, whether that is using weights, or no extra weight
  • Lunges are a great low impact exercise that people at all fitness levels can benefit from

I do walking lunges as a great alternative to squats and other leg exercises because they are low impact and require core and stability training.  Maybe your situation is similar to mine.  As a back pained person, lunges are one of my favorite exercises.

Lunges have a lot of variations, and you can do them anywhere, so I highly recommend you give them a try. Find what works for you.

I appreciate you stopping by today, I hope you enjoyed this article on lunges. Please let me know if you have any questions or comments and I will get back to you as soon as I can.



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