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Lunges - Muscles Worked & Benefits

Exercise Type: Multi-joint
Primary Muscles Worked: Quads
Secondary Muscles Worked: Glutes, Calves and Hamstrings

The quads, calves, glutes, and hamstrings are all targeted in this exercise. Lunges are particularly effective in developing power in the front of the thighs and glutes. By taking a larger step you can place the emphasis on the glutes and hamstrings. Lunges are beneficial for those looking to develop strength and stability in asymmetrical positions. Lunges are also great at further developing your core strength as a way to stabilise yourself during the exercise. Lunges can place pressure on knees however, and should be performed only after leg strengthening has been completed.

Lunges - Exercise Workout & Technique

  • This exercise should be performed on a squat rack for safety. Position the barbell at shoulder height.
  • Position yourself with a barbell resting across your shoulders. Press up with your legs and step away from the rack.
  • Ensure that your posture is vertical and your feet are close to each other. Maintain the curve of the lower spine.
  • Inhale and step out with your first foot, bending the knee as you lower yourself.
  • Ensure that the knee of your leading leg does not go beyond the toes of that leg in front of you.
  • Now exhale and drive yourself primarily with your heel back to the starting position, so that your feet are together again.
  • Finish this rep by stepping forward with the other foot, and return to the vertical position again so that your feet are together again.
  • Repeat the movement for the desired rep range.

Lunges - Tips & Safety

  • Maintain excellent posture throughout, with your head up, chest out and curve of the lower spine maintained.
  • Be sure not to overload on weight as lunges require a lighter weight than most other leg exercises. Training with a weight that is too heavy can cause stress in the kneecaps and also make it hard to maintain balance
  • Your knee should bend 90 degrees, with your thigh parallel to the floor.

Lunges - Alternatives

  • Try this exercise with dumbbells at your sides in place of the barbell across your shoulders.
  • Complete the reps as above, or do one leg at a time in order to maintain symmetry throughout the exercise; ie lunge with the same leg for the desired amount of reps and then switch legs.
  • Another alternative are static lunges. To perform these, lunge forward as you would normally with the one leg but instead of bringing the leg back up to the starting position, simply extend your lunged leg so you rise vertically. This is one repetition. Continue lowering and rising vertically for the desired amount of repetitions. Switch legs and repeat.
  • Instead of returning to the same start position, do a lunge walk across the length of the gym or training area.
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