Over the course of my career, I have refused to let injuries keep me down. When a body part is injured, I’ve always found novel ways to continue to exercise the injured body part. The key is to find a way to exercise it without putting it under the same kind of stress that led to the injury. This approach has worked in all my fifty-some years of training. It was through this approach that I realized the power of lunges for leg development. After I suffered an injury to my right sartorious muscle, I was unable to do squats, so I implemented a training regimen consisting of lunges. This was back when no one was doing lunges, but I knew that to continue to get the kind of leg development desired, I would need to adopt a new strategy. The results were so outstanding that I have continued to work lunges into my training and I consistently recommend them for both men and women who train at my gym.
I recommend any one of three lunge variations. Do one of the three variations twice per week. Rotate the variation used over time to add diversity and challenge your muscles. With all of these variations, you will start out doing a number of reps that you can reasonably perform, maybe 10 per leg. Try to work up to 20 per leg.
Variation #1- Static Lunge
In this lunge, you will work one leg at a time. You will begin with one leg forward and one leg extended backward. Your back leg will be positioned far enough back so that when you go down, you will go straight down rather than going forward over your front foot. You will lower yourself straight down by bending the front knee. This will place most of your bodyweight on your front leg. If you go too far forward, it is bad for your knee and it won’t do what you want for your muscle. Drop straight down until your back knee nearly touches the ground. Then push up with the main emphasis being on the heel of your forward foot. This movement is best performed in front of a mirror so that you can view the mechanics of the movement.
Concentrating on one leg at a time is much better for development than trying to alternate legs with each rep. By remaining in a static position, you ensure that you are in perfect position for each rep.
Variation #2- Backward Lunge
The backward lunge emphasizes the glutes. From a standing position, step back with one leg and lower your body into a lunge position. Recover using your front leg. You will rise on your front leg exactly as you would do in a standard lunge. For the next rep, step back again. Each rep is a controlled step back. Once you become consistent with the movement, you can do one leg then alternate to the other.
Variation #3- Forward Lunge with Movement
This lunge is preferably done outside due to the amount of space needed to lunge forward multiple times. In this lunge, you will step forward in a controlled manner and then drop down by bending your front knee. Lower until your thigh becomes nearly parallel to the ground. You will then raise straight up, NOT forward. Then step forward with the other leg.
This lunge can be done on pavement, but be careful of surfaces on which you could easily lose your footing. To increase the difficulty of this lunge, you can do this movement up a steep hill or up a staircase.
If you lunge up a staircase, you will skip over one step with each lunge. You will only want to consider these variations once you are very adept at the movement.
You may choose to increase the difficulty of any of the lunge variations by holding dumbbells for added resistance. However, you’ll find that these movements are challenging enough that you won’t really need weights. I don’t recommend trying to balance a barbell while doing these movements.
I often performed forward lunges all the way across a large parking lot that was located behind the gym where I trained. At first, I started with alternating lunges across the parking lot. When I became proficient at that, I would lunge across the entire lot using only one leg at a time. After my parking lot routine, my legs would absolutely buckle beneath me. These techniques are tried and true. Give them a try, you’ll love the results.
Until next time, keep training hard.