One of the best exercises you can do for your quads and glutes, and secondarily the hamstrings, is the lunge exercise. Lunges are something that you can do anywhere. This is one exercise that no matter how many times I do it, I end up a little sore. That’s a good thing because it means that my muscles are growing.
The Lunge Exercise
To start the exercise, stand upright. Then take a big step forward and drop straight down until your knee either touches the ground or comes pretty close. (I go lower to the ground that the lady in the picture to the right!) Then push through your heel and stand back upright into the starting position. Switch to the opposite leg and repeat. That’s one rep.
The mechanics of the exercise are pretty straight forward, but it does sound easier than it is to perform. Since you perform this exercise one leg at a time, it does require a certain amount of balance. The best way to maintain balance is to look straight ahead and not look down. Looking down causes your spine to bend in an unsafe position if you’re carrying weights, plus it makes you want to fall over. So, head up and eyes straight ahead.
Variations of the Lunge Exercise
The basic lunge exercise has you take a big step forward, and then push back upright. However, you can take small steps, or even intermediate steps, along with the giant steps. Personally, I think that you work the muscles more if you take giant steps, but try the different versions and see how it feels to you.
Also, you don’t always have to do lunges straight forward. You can also take steps in various angles to the side or even completely to the side, if your hips can turn out and your legs can bend that way. As with all leg exercises, make sure that your knees follow the path of your feet and that your knees don’t go past the ends of your toes so you don’t put stress on your knees.
My all-time favorite version is walking lunges. This is the best exercise I know of to get great glutes. This exercise is exactly how it sounds – instead of stepping forward then standing straight back up into the starting position, you take a step forward, drop down, then stand up in the spot where you took the step. So, with every step forward you move forward. These can be somewhat challenging if you don’t have a big space. I like to do these in my back yard. When I do them in my house, I start in my bedroom, enter the hallway, turn into the living room, then the kitchen, back down the hallway, and end up in my bedroom again. Sometimes you just have to do what you have to do!
You can perform all of these variations with or without weights. If you use free weights, hold the weights straight down by your sides. If you want to use heavier weights, you can put a weight bar on your shoulders.
Lunges are great for the quads and glutes and should be a part of your weekly workout. Whether you do them with or without weights, you’ll definitely feel this exercise working your muscles.
If you want to see a video of this exercise, click here. Bodybuilding.com has a lot of great exercise videos. (Just don’t look down like the guy in the video!)
Until next time, remember that… there are no excuses when it comes to your health!