The lunge is an exercise that, when used correctly, can tone and fill out all the right areas, but when used incorrectly it can cause injuries that keep you out of the gym for weeks. When you fine tune your form by following these lunge form tips, you’ll have better results, faster.
DO: Take the time to warm up by making sure your heart rate is elevated and your central nervous system is primed for your workout.
DON’T: Start lunging with heavy weight without doing a few bodyweight lunges first. Taking it slow never hurt anybody.
DO: Go slow and steady concentrating on the muscles being engaged included all of those tiny stabilizing muscles that are helping you keep your balance. Breathe out as you extend your leg forward, and in as you bring your other leg forward. Try a few lunges with arms out to the side, then again with your arms raised straight above your head.
DON’T: Rush to get done and hurt yourself. There is no point in doing any exercise with bad form, other than injury there will be very little development because bad form forces the wrong muscle groups to help the muscle you are trying to isolate, defeating the purpose of your efforts.
DO: Add weights as you get more comfortable. Some people forget how adaptable your body is, and unless you continue challenging it, it’s going to take a lot more lunges to get the same effects that your body felt the first few weeks you performed them. Start light and always keep good form.
DON’T: Count how many lunges you are doing. Counting will divert your attention from form, and places an emphasis on “getting it done” instead of “getting it done right”. If you must count, try to break up the monotony by timing your exhale on the forward step for a count of three seconds. With a walking lunge, you ought to pick a destination to walk to; you’ll get there eventually and there is no need to know how many lunges it took to do it.
DO: Expect fatigue to set in a lot faster on the reverse lunge than the walking lunge. You are going to complete all of your reps on one leg before you switch to the other, so your glutes, hamstrings and quads are going to feel it pretty quickly!
DON'T: Let your knees buckle. Perhaps the most dangerous aspect of this exercise is the issue of knee stability. If you are overloading the weight you're working with; as you step backwards the form you use becomes increasingly important, the failure to go slow and not overextend may result in a serious injury to your knees. Be aware of what your body can and can’t do, and don’t try and push past your limits at the expense of injury.
DO: Take a long step forward before sinking your back leg down toward the ground. A short step will force your knee over your toe, which can be painful, dangerous for your joint and is not going to help you develop rounded glutes or strong quads.
DON'T: Use your upper body to push off of your leg as you return to the standing position. This might happen when your muscles start to fatigue, or it can become a bad habit if you don’t correct it quickly. When you’re in the deepest part of the lunge, resist the urge to push off of your own knee to help yourself come to the standing position: it’s completely counterproductive!