For months now, I have been all about the lunges. Making up for lost time, I guess.
I pretty much abandoned them some years back. It wasn’t my fault though, I was drunk on some strength & conditioning kool-aid at the time. Everyone wanted huge squat and deadlift numbers, lunges just weren’t that cool.
But now mobility is what’s hot in the streets so lunges are cool again. Funny how that happens. Turns out that I actually lunges a lot, they're a huge part of my movement style. I don’t necessarily load them up a ton but instead there's a lot to play around with in terms of speed and different angles.
The downside of lunges (but really an upside) is that they require more neuromuscular coordination. I see lunges performed incorrectly all the time. Sometimes it’s super ugly and I shake my head as I turn away in disgust. Most of the time though the issues lie in the small details that go unnoticed. A few good cues can make a huge difference.
So this week we’re looking to clean up some common mistakes in this natural movement. If lunges have given you problems in the past check out these fixes that may save your knees. Stop thinking of a lunge as an exercise instead of a practical movement you use in real life. There is no single perfect form. Rather, it’s a good look to understand the basic mechanics and explore lunging in many different ways.
Here are some of the variations to try:
The half kneeling get up. This is a transition from kneeling to standing via the lunge. The half kneel is a strong position to start the lunge, beginners should start out here. The core is kept strong and the front hip engaged. Push directly down through the front foot, pressing away through the back toes to stand up
The split squat isn’t a true lunge but close enough. It requires more range of motion and strength. A key point on the split squat is keeping the spine long and core strong while standing up out of the bottom position. Again, the front leg is doing the majority of the work, the back leg provides the assist.
Dynamic lunging is a more athletic expression. Keep the tempo slow and smooth as starting to practice, the speed will come in time. Focus on all the details: “falling” into the lunge, contacting the ground, absorbing through the hip, strong posture, driving through the ground to standing.
Seems simple, right? What could go wrong?
Well, a few things. Structural integrity can break down, there might be some muscular imbalances, mobility restrictions, or some combination. The knee of the lunge leg may want to drift inward. There might be a failure to load the hip properly or a problem with the sequencing. There might be a loss of posture. Mostly likely there will be some combination. Notice the theme.
The common faults happen for a number of reasons. Many of them are related to the fact that, as a culture, we sit way too much. We need to balance out that time with more movement. Nothing major, nothing excessive, just human movement. Practice doesn’t have to be a be a big deal nor does it have to be perfect right away. Just stay curious and mindful, you’ll keep peeling back the layers and finding new depth. It never gets old and it will keep you young.