By themselves, lunges may seem like an innocent enough exercise. You’ve probably seen people at the gym casually doing walking lunges, barely panting, looking like they are going for a nice leisurely stroll through the gym. The lunges in the above video demonstration however come straight from HELL!!! With endless high-rep sets, done immediately after your brutal battery of squats; these lunges will tear your soul apart and render even the strongest lifters into a quivering pile of flesh on the weight room floor.
There are many great benefits that make lunges an essential part of your leg day routine. Not only do they continue to punish your quads after the assault they endured during your squats; lunges work each leg independently, ensuring balanced muscle size and strength. High rep sets will also get your heart and lungs ready to burst out of your chest – alien style. Your balance and core stability will be challenged from the very first rep, giving your core a demanding workout while improving balance and coordination that will help you in all your heavy lifting. And finally, with so many of us sitting at desks for hours on end, lunges are one of the best functional exercises to undo tight hip flexors and to activate the glutes.
Lunges are performed either with dumbbells held at your sides, or with a barbell across your upper back. Standing in one place extend the first leg out in front of you for a full long stride. Ease forward bending the front knee and keeping your upper body and torso straight and perpendicular to the floor. Bend the back knee down to almost touching the floor as your front knee bends to a 90-degree angle. Once down as far as you can go, push off the front leg and back to the starting position in one smooth and explosive motion. You can alternate legs for each rep, or do all your reps on one leg, followed immediately by an equal amount of reps on the other leg.
Here are some important points about Lunges:
- SETS – For beginners I recommend 3-4 sets using a weight you can handle for 10-12 reps. For more experienced lifters I suggest a 4 set Pyramid: 15 reps, 10-12 reps, 8-10 reps, 6-8 reps – increasing weight with each set. Keep rest under 2 minutes between sets.
- WEIGHTS – You don’t need to use heavy weights for your lunges to be deadly. Beginners could even start with just their body weight. But as with all exercise, always ask yourself if you are pushing your limits hard enough. If you think you can handle more weight, you probably can.
- HIGH REPS – Doing lunges one leg at a time basically doubles your reps. A set of 15 reps for each leg is 30 reps for your core stabilizers, heart, lungs and nervous system, placing your body under a grueling demand for energy, strength and balance. This is the element that wipes the floor with even the heartiest of lifters. Pure EVIL!!!
- DUMBBELLS V. BARBELL – Doing lunges with dumbbells is slightly easier when it comes to balance and core stability. Dumbbell lunges are also a good choice if you are doing your lunges right after squats. Squats put a lot of pressure on your spine and dumbbells held at your sides help to decompress the spine. For these reasons I’d suggest dumbbells lunges for anyone who is a beginner, needs work on their balance and coordination, or anyone concerned about overloading their back. Lunges with a barbell across your upper back are a little more challenging to your balance and core stability. If you have a good strong back and want to increase the complexity of this exercise in its core and balance demand; go for barbell lunges.
- LONG STRIDES – Be sure to take long healthy strides for your lunges. You want to make sure the front knee does not bend too far forward beyond your toes. If you are not taking long enough strides your form and balance will be off.
- SQUATS – As I mentioned above, you should be doing your lunges right after your squats. The combination of squats followed by lunges is what makes lunges such an Evil Exercise. For those who can’t do squats due to injury or medical condition, combine lunges with your heaviest leg exercise, or do them on their own.
So as always, if you have any questions or feedback on this topic please use the comments section or contact me directly. I’d love to hear from you. Listen to METAL and lift heavy.