How To Do Walking Lunges Properly For All The Lower-Body Benefits, According To A Trainer (Women's Health)
Posted: Mar 25, 2023 in In the News
This article originally appeared in Women's Health on March 25, 2023.
How To Do Walking Lunges Properly For All The Lower-Body Benefits, According To A Trainer
By Megan Falk
I consider stationary lunges a “meat and potatoes” type of lower-body exercise, and for good reason. In one move, I can target multiple muscle groups—including the glutes, quads, hamstrings, and calves—with bodyweight anywhere. Lunges are beginner-friendly, too.
Still, lunging in place (or split squats) can get real boring, real fast. The key to spicing up your workout? Get moving more and kick it up a notch with walking lunges. Walking lunges recruit all the major muscles in your legs and don’t call for additional equipment, says Antonia Henry, CPT, a NASM-certified personal trainer and pregnancy and postpartum athleticism coach.
Because you're moving around your space and alternating legs, walking lunges can feel less tedious. Plus, walking lunges come with an added balance challenge. “The stability requirement in walking lunges comes from it being a unilateral exercise, [meaning] it works one side [of your body] at a time,” she notes. “Additionally, there's the transition time in the movement when you'll just be standing on one leg.”
How To Do Walking Lunges With Perfect Form
Although walking lunges look pretty straightforward and you've likely done them in the past, there are a few key technique tips to help get the most out of the movement, according to Henry.
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart, your toes pointing forward, and your hands resting on your hips or clasped in front of your chest, whichever is most comfortable. If you struggle with balance, raise your arms out at your sides to provide some stability, suggests Henry. (Option to hold dumbbells at sides, as shown above.)
- Draw your shoulders down and back away from your ears. Then, engage your core by drawing your belly button up and in toward your ribcage (imagine bracing your stomach as if someone were about to punch you). This step will keep you stable and protect your spine from injury.
- On an inhale, step your right foot forward about two feet, making sure to keep it aligned with your right hip. Redistribute your weight evenly throughout your foot.
- Slowly bend your right knee to lower your body to the floor. Pause when your right knee forms a 90-degree angle and your right thigh is parallel to the floor. Your left knee should be bent to roughly 90 degrees and hovering a few inches off the floor, but you can also gently tap it on the ground. Just make sure to avoid resting your left knee on the floor, which will release the muscular tension you’re building.
- On an exhale, engage your glutes and quads and press through your entire right foot to straighten your right leg. As you return to standing, allow your left foot to lift off the ground behind you, sweeping it forward to meet your right.
- Without allowing your left foot to touch the floor, take a step forward with your left foot and repeat the lunge on your left side. If that’s too difficult, briefly tap your left foot on the ground next to your right to regain your balance before moving into your next lunge. That's 1 rep.
How To Add Walking Lunges To Your Workout Routine
You’re best bet is performing them at the beginning of your workout, when you’re still mentally energized and your body is fatigue-free, according to Henry. Why? Walking lunges are a compound exercise—meaning they utilize multiple muscle groups and joints—so they can be a bit taxing on the body.
They help address muscle imbalances. It’s totally normal for one side of your body to be a bit stronger than the other. But when these imbalances are significant, they can lead to movement compensations that ultimately lead to injury, according to the American Council on Exercise. The good news: Walking lunges are a unilateral exercise. In case you forgot, unilateral exercises challenge just one side of your body at a time, so they can clue you in on any serious muscle imbalances between your legs, says Henry. “Unilateral movements help us identify [strength differences] and decide if and when we need to work on [correcting] them,” she adds.
Read the full article here.
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