Muscles Used • Exercise Type • Form Instruction • Tips and Techniques • Recommended Reps • Common Variations • Substitutions • Equipment Needed
See all the exercises at the:
Weight Training Exercises Database
– Barbell Lunges –
AKA: Forward Lunges, Alternating Forward Lunges
Compound Exercise, Push Movement
Standing with legs hip-width apart, position barbell on back of shoulders, lunge forward with one leg landing on heel then forefoot, lower down until the knee of the opposite leg nearly touches floor. Raise up and step back to starting position. Repeat with other leg
Tips and Techniques:
Once you take the step forward you want to focus on moving directly down (not moving forward). Keep a slight arch in the lower back but keep the back otherwise straight up. Look forward, not down, to help keep from wanting to bend forward at the waist (and consequently putting the back in a dangerous position).
Focus on the front knee following in the same direction of the front toe, do not allow the legs to cave inwards.
Focus on keeping the weight on the heel of the front foot – when you push up make sure you are pushing up with the weight primarily on the heel of the front foot.
Lunges, and especially barbell lunges, require some balance skills. Practice with light weights to make sure you are prepared for the more challenging weights.
Barbell placement and comfort is often a concern. It is the same as with squats and placement is discussed there – Parallel Squats.
Another issue that lunges will bring up for certain individuals is the questionable tactic of allowing the front knee to advance beyond the front toes. This same issue crops up with squats and is discussed on the Deep Squats page.
Stride Length: A short step will put the majority of the exercise’s emphasis on the quads. A basic step (or a normal step) will involve the glutes more and a long, exaggerated step can shift the exercise’s emphasis to the glutes and hamstrings.
For most, a normal stride is where they will want to lunge. Lengthening your stride can reduce knee stress if this is a concern. Longer strides also require more balance and flexibility so you may need to work up to them.
Recommended Reps For Muscle Building:
6-12 the majority of the time, trying higher or lower reps on occasion.
- Dumbbell Lunges – Same exercise but holding dumbbells to the side
- Side Lunges – Stepping to the side and lunging, keeping the knees following the toes
- Reverse Lunges – Stepping back with off leg and going down with working leg
- Walking Lunges – Instead of stepping back at the end of a rep, you move the off leg up and continue moving forward.
- Static Lunges – Instead of alternating legs, you work one leg to the completion of a set.
Dumbbell Step-Ups are a great alternative to lunges. The various variations above also make good substitutions. Squats, of course, are a top mass gain exercise that targets the quads and shouldn’t be avoided.
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