Saturday, March 2, 2013

The power of lunges

Lunges are a really good exercise to add to your work out routine, they are a kind of super exercise if you will. They work many muscles in your legs at the same time and also help build core strength in other parts of your body. Lunges are excellent for building strength around the hamstrings, which is a priority for many of our gym members, as most of them are active in winter sports like skiing and snowboarding. Strong legs are integral to on-the-hill performance and stamina, but benefits absolutely everyone, weather you are an athlete or not. There are a few different types of lunges, the one we will be introducing here is the basic forward step lunge.

How to do lunges:
The Basics:
Starting position, stand with hands on hips and feet together. Keeping your head up and your spine in a neutral position, take a fairly big step forward, dipping down so that your front knee is at a 90-degree angle. Your back knee drops straight down behind you, this back leg will be balancing on the toe of that foot. The back leg should also be at a 90-degree angle at the bottom of your lung-dip, the thigh should be in a straight line with your spine. Then return to the standing position and repeat. The general motion is forward and descending, spine staying in a vertical position. Stabilize by keeping your chest high and stomach up. Keep your weight evenly distributed in the step, the weight put on the front foot should be on the heel or centered on the foot, do not raise the heel of the front foot. The spine should stay in the same neutral position when you move up and down, and avoid rotating at the hips. You can alternate which foot you place forward or do sets for each side.
There are a few different variations to forward step lunges, you can do them stationary in one spot, or do walking lunges, 'propelling' you forward with each step (these are extra good for core strength as there is an extra balance element involved). You can add weights to your ankles and arms for a tougher workout and they can even be done with a barbell or other weights held overhead for hard core weight lifters. You can also execute the lunges up onto a step/box or off a step/box, both variations adding a bit of difficulty and resistance. In all cases the most important thing is the correct posture.

Here's Tammie, one of our regulars, executing  a deep lunge with added weights. She uses the weights for arm curls at the same time which adds another dimension to the exercise. You can often catch Tammie doing walking lunges around the gym, she then adds weight belts to her ankles as well. Yeah, she's an expert 'lunger'. When you see how good shape Tammie's legs are in it does make you want to do lunges.

For those of you who are very 'nerdy' about your anatomy and muscle groups in particular, here is a list of the most worked muscle groups when doing lunges: adductor magnus, biceps femoris, gluteus maximus, rectus femoris, vastus intermedius, vastus lateralis and vastus medialis.

If you see anyone doing walking lunges in the gym, why not join the lunge train. They are a great group exercise. One of the greatest aspects of this exercise is that it can be executed almost anywhere with great effect. A frequently visiting members of ours likes coming in and grabbing a couple of weights, then head out again to do lunges around the Body Shop building, lunges in the sunshine, why not?