The lunges is one of the most popular leg exercises in the gym.
Among the most effective and famous exercises to train the legs and to stimulate the buttocks, lunges involve a multiarticular movement which is motor stimulating and therefore not easy to perform.
In this article, we’ll find out how front lunges are done (other than the Bulgarian squat or side lunges), what they are for?
What are the common mistakes and which execution is correct by always applying science to training?
Lunges Forward, Back And Forth
The lunges can be performed in several ways: standing, alternating forward, alternating backward, and walking.
The execution from a standstill is generally indicated for sedentary newbies who have been inactive for a long time.
For these, it may be useful to provide support nearby to lean on in case of loss of balance.
Alternating backward execution is from a didactic point of view easier to learn for newbies and less at risk of executive error.
In the absence of sight as an organ of balance, exercise could, however, be more destabilizing. The exercise can be performed with dumbbells in hand as overloads or with the barbell on the shoulders.
According to the literature validated to date, it is considered the variant that causes the greatest average contraction of the gluteus maximus muscle during execution.
The alternate forward execution is less simple for beginners to learn and more at risk of executive error many subjects tend to “throw themselves forward” by raising the heels and pushing the knee excessively beyond the tip of the feet.
It is also the variant with the greatest shear forces on the knee and with the lowest average contraction of target muscles such as the quadriceps and gluteus maximus.
The exercise can be performed with dumbbells in hand as overloads (to be held at the hips) or with the barbell on the shoulders.
The walking execution ( advancing lunges ) is the last in order of difficulty. The exercise can be performed with dumbbells in hand or with the barbell on the shoulders as overloads.
It is the most complete model because the hip reaches maximum extension during the step. Scientific literature considers this variant to be the best for medium quadriceps muscle activation and best for maximal gluteus maximus activation.
Front Lunges: Correct Execution
For all three types of lunges the guidelines to follow are as follows:
- During the execution of the step, it is essential to always keep the torso erect, bending on the legs without falling forward and keeping the tibia straight to the ground, trying not to bring the knee beyond the tip of the toes. When your knee touches the floor, push with the lower limb placed in front to return to the starting position with your feet together.
- In the walking variant with each step, when you come to touch the floor with the knee, push with the lower body placed in front to start a new step avoiding joining the feet at each cycle.
- Pay attention to the possible presence of dynamic valgus, especially in women with a large pelvis and weak external rotation of the hip. The exercise should also be evaluated in frontal vision and not only in the sagittal one, making the subject aware and correcting any “falls” inside the knee during the bending of the lower limb.
As the stride length varies we can place more emphasis on glutes or quadriceps.
A longer step increases the pre-stretch of the buttock, favoring its activation and vice versa, a very short step will emphasize the quadriceps, increasing the knee flexion.
Do You Lunge With A Barbell Or Dumbbell?
The use of dumbbells as an overload generates an important activation of the upper trapezius.
In the days following the workout, it is possible to develop muscle pains in this area, especially if you use high loads.
The lunges with dumbbells can further favor a kyphotic attitude and with shoulders placed in front during the execution an event that can be avoided by rotating the humerus externally and holding the dumbbells perpendicular to the trunk instead of parallel.
Using a barbell as an overload promotes a better postural attitude during execution, prevents compensatory hyperkyphosis, and reduces the activation of the upper trapezius to support the load.
But be careful, it is a modality that has the defect of being more complex from a logistical point of view, especially in crowded fitness centers characterized by limited spaces, and that must be avoided or limited in those subjects with impaired mobility of the shoulder in external rotation.
Compensation in barbell lunges may manifest through excessive lumbar extension, an extension of the humerus, and neck protraction.
Also in this case it is advisable to test the physiological mobility in the external rotation before proposing the variant.
An interesting variation of lunges to place greater emphasis on the internal and external thigh muscles calling them to a functional stabilization work of the pelvis is that with the front foot resting on a bearing variant that makes the execution unstable.
In this way, there will also be proprioceptive work for the ankle and knee with greater recruitment of the muscles of the leg.