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The Perfect Lunge

You’re probably tired of seeing articles like this by now.  Everyone knows that your knee can’t cross your toe, lunges are the best way to a “bubble butt,” and you can seriously destroy your joints if you do them wrong, right?

Nope. 

The truth is, there is no “perfect” lunge.  We can look at this in a few different ways.  

The first involves remembering that each person moves differently.  That’s right: no two people are going to do every movement the same.  While some who obsess over form have learned over the years to fit into the mold of the old-dogma “perfect” lunge, many people don’t even know where to begin when they first start exercising.  So why should there be one cookie-cutter approach to this exercise when we all have different body backgrounds?

Second, we don’t all have the same fitness and movement goals.  Why would someone looking to build bigger glutes do the same lunge as someone who is trying to increase their basketball pivot range?  It just doesn’t add up.  And on that note – how many basketball players do you see pausing to make sure their knee doesn’t cross their toe when they lunge in the middle of a pass?  Thought so.

So, how do you do the perfect lunge?  You do the lunge that does what you want it to do.  While this makes the possibilities pretty wide, don’t worry.  Here are a few scenarios you may run into when someone is trying to do a lunge, and how to tweak it to fit their specific goals.

#1

  • Forward lunge with DB Reach For greater glute and hamstring activation, or if lunges hurt your knees
  1. Lunge Forward, hinging at the hip to reach the dumbbells down toward the floor.
  2. At the bottom of the lunge your trunk will be close to a 45 degree angle to the ground. Be sure to keep your spine neutral.
  3. The increased hip flexion of the lunge leg increases the contribution of the glutes and hamstrings.

#2

  • Forward lunge with DB Reach Reduces contribution of glutes and hamstrings, focuses more on quadriceps
  1. Lunge forward while simultaneously reaching overhead with both hands
  2. The decreased hip flexion angle puts the hamstrings and glutes at a mechanical disadvantage, so the quads take on more of the load.

 

#3

  • Forward lunge with flexion and rotation Flexion + Rotation increases the emphasis on the glutes
  1. Lunge forward, hinging forward at the hip while also rotating into the lunge leg.
  2. The increased hip flexion + internal rotation serves to load the glutes in two planes, resulting in even more activation.

 

The takeaway:
We didn’t even dive into lunges for sport performance, in different directions, or advancing them to leap movements.  This is just a basic starting point.  But the key message here is that there is no one standard, “perfect” lunge for everyone.

By starting with knowing how you or your client moves, and adding that to their performance or fitness goals, you can choose from seemingly-endless lunge options to help achieve what they’re after.  Once this equation is solved, you can piece together a “perfect” lunge for that particular person at this particular time.

And if you would like our help perfecting YOUR perfect lunge and achieving your fitness and performance goals be sure to email us at info@drivenperformance.net! 👍

Author: Allison Wojtowecz; CPT, Pn1