How to Do a Lunge (and Why They’re So Good for You) (Everyday Health)
Posted: Feb 08, 2023 in In the News
This article originally appeared in Everyday Health on February 8, 2023.
How to Do a Lunge (and Why They’re So Good for You)
Lunges primarily target the lower body muscles, but they’ll call on your core muscles, too, because they’re a unilateral (one-sided) exercise.
Lunges can be a top strength exercise to add to your fitness routine. There are dozens of ways to vary them, either by altering the move or adding resistance — and the payoff for doing them is big, namely a stronger lower body.
Here’s what you need to know to get started with them.
What Muscles Do Lunges Work?
Lunges work the biggest muscles in your lower body — mainly the quadriceps, gluteus maximus, and the adductor magnus (the muscle in your inner thigh). Other muscles that come into play are the hamstrings, gluteus medius, calves, and core stabilizers, says Susane Pata, content strategist for the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) and NASM-certified personal trainer based in Miami.
It doesn’t matter what lunge variation you do, as all of these muscles will be targeted, says Jonathan Olonade, a corrective exercise specialist and NASM-certified personal trainer with Life Time in Cinco Ranch, Texas.
Yet which muscles are working the hardest will change based on which lunge variations you’re doing. “The angle of the work required to perform different lunges can affect how much one muscle is activated versus another,” Pata says. Even the size of the step you take can affect how much of a specific muscle is used.
For instance, if you’re doing front and back lunges, you’ll primarily be working the gluteus maximus, adductors, and quadriceps. Side lunges will work the gluteus medius more. And if you’re taking bigger steps forward and back, you’ll use more of the glute muscles, while smaller steps will target the quadriceps more.
What Are the Benefits of Lunges?
So why does any of this matter? Lunges build functional strength. “You’ll be equipped to handle everyday life movements better,” Pata says. For instance, your muscles will be better at running, walking, and climbing stairs.
Another reason lunges are so effective? They’re a form of unilateral training, which means you’re working only one limb or side of the body at a time.
And unilateral training is a more effective way to build functional strength (than using both legs) because these types of movement mimic other everyday motions, like walking and climbing stairs — and not just to the working leg. Research suggests the strength gains to the nonworking side are about half of the strength gains of the working side.
And with unilateral training, because it involves balance, you’re working your core muscles, too, according to the American Council on Exercise.
Plus, the strength and stability you’re building in your hips with lunges translate to protection for your knees. “The stronger you can make your hips with lunges (and other lower body exercises), the less likely it is that your knees will become the victim of pain and injury,” Pata says.
Read the full article here.
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