Your lunges are terrible….
So bad you shouldn’t do them. At least not until after you read this.
Your lunges probably don’t look like this….
I can say with almost 100% certainty that when you do a lunge one of these things happens:
From start to midpoint:
- Step out is too small, not giving the hips enough room to drop down.
- Step out is too big and the back leg has to be kept straight to be used as a kickstand.
- The Step out foot is placed towards the mid-line of the body.
- Contact on the step out foot is on the ball of the foot not on a flat foot with pressure in the heel.
- The knee collapses in towards the mid-line of the body.
- Chest collapses over, shoulders move towards the front knee.
From midpoint to finish:
- Front shin is projected forward
- The toes of the front foot are used as the point of contact/ pressure to stand up
- The front knee pushes back and the back leg is used as a kick stand
Thing is: lunging forward is actually really advanced and most people don’t have the strength, mobility and mechanics to do it correctly.
So they shouldn’t. But they can still lunge….just in reverse
The lunge you can do: Reverse Lunges
These are almost always 100% easier to perform correctly.
Forward lunges require a LOT of eccentric strength from the “step out” leg. This means, you have to slow down the weight with the leg that, through much of the movement, is not in contact with the ground.
Therefore it’s more difficult to:
- Have correct foot pressure: heel vs. toes
- Overcome a “bad step”
- Keep proper knee angles and alignment
Reverse Lunges however never take the “drive” or “anchor” leg of the movement off the ground.
- Easier to initiate movement from the hips.
- Easier to get proper foot pressure from the start of the movement and maintain it throughout.
- Easier to control the shin angle (more vertical) of the drive leg.
- Easier to maintain proper knee mechanics and angles.
- Easier to drop the back leg down and activate the hip (glutes) because the weight stays on the front dive leg.
- Easier to “pull” through the front heel (use the hip) to stand back up.
The How To:
Start by standing tall, don’t’ have your knee bent at the start…lock it out and stand tall.
- Pressure in the heel…this doesn’t mean lift the toes up and lean back…..put PRESSURE in the heel.
- Initiate movement from the hip, not the front knee. Sit back, not down.
- Reach the non-drive leg back without tipping forward or leaning back at the torso.
- Sit tall and drop the back knee down, keep the weight in the front heel, don’t shift weight to the back toes or front toes.
- At the bottom don’t allow the shin to translate forward, STAPLE IT in place, the knee doesn’t move from here.
- “Pull” the front heel under you, think about doing a leg curl, pulling the hip over the knee.
- The knee should move backwards in unison with the hip moving forward over the top.
- Stand tall ankle, knee hip “stacked” at the top.
- Pressure in the front heel the whole time.
- Initiate sitting back from the hips.
- Sit tall, Stand tall.
- Let the back knee bend.
- Aim for a vertical or near vertical shin angle on the front foot.
Reverse lunges take some coordination, strength and mobility to do correctly so if you find that you’re rounding over or having a hard time staying tall you probably should regress the movement to a split squat or even high step up until your strength and mobility come up to par.
That said these are usually A-OK (all prerequisites being met) for people with knee pain because it’s easier to control the forward movement (Tibial Shear) of the knee.
Here’s a video of Ronnie Coleman doing walking lunges in a parking lot being awesome: this really has nothing to do with this article I just like it and you should watch it cause it’s fun.