If you’re a personal training client of mine, you know I enjoy incorporating a bit of agony known as ‘walking lunges’. If you’re a bodybuilding fan, you will relate to this exercise because you've seen former Mr. Olympia, Ronnie Coleman, doing them outside of his Texas home in the middle of the summer in blistering temperatures reaching 110 degrees. Let’s take a look at this awesome and often incorrectly done exercise.
There are two ways to do a walking lunge, 1) with a dumbbell or 2) a barbell. When you’re using dumbbells, you’ll want to start with your palms facing in towards your thighs. Step forward with one foot, the leading foot should be completely flat on the ground, while the rear foot should have your toes dug into the ground with your heal elevated. You should squat down with both legs, and the back knee should come close but not exactly hit the ground.
You must keep your back straight, your chest up and your eyes straight ahead. If you are doing these correctly, your leading knee should NOT cross over your foot. After you’ve completed the ‘squat’, you should stand and "lunge" forward. Bringing the former back leg to the front and go past your opposite leg.
Some people or trainers like to bring the feet together for a second to regroup before moving to the next rep. I consider this cheating and only do it towards the end of the set, when balance is starting to go and your muscles are failing.
Note: If you’re using a barbell, the form is identical except you are holding a bar across your shoulders (as in a squat).
Walking lunges are great because they ‘slam’ all of your lower body parts. The primary being the glutes, the hamstrings, and the quads. Most of the stress is going directly to the vastus mediallus, better known as the VMO or "tear drop".
The calves, plus other parts of the quads, also get hit hard. Walking lunges are an extremely difficult exercise that challenges the cardio vascular system. Some people will experience "cardio give out" before anything else while doing this exercise.
With some of my clients, once they reach one end of the aerobics room lunging forward, I have them lunge backwards. The dynamics of going backwards is almost the same as forward except the leading foot is the rear, and you’re coming down on your toes with the lead instead of the heel.
Backward lunges are MUCH more difficult than forward lunges, especially since you’re already fatigued. So make sure you’re ready to handle the form and balance issues before giving it a whirl.
For more information on my online personal training program go to http://www.walk2bfit.com and click on Just Ask Joe!
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