Lunges are a well-known and a popular addition to any workout routine. This is probably because you can perform this exercise from almost anywhere, from the comfortable confines of your own home, to the office break room, and if you want a fabulous view, you can lunge your way across a sandy beach somewhere. Another added bonus is that this exercise doesn’t necessarily require the use of any exercise equipment at all. Of course, you can add a weighted backpack or the use of dumbbells to really pin down and juice up the benefits you receive if natural lunges are becoming too easy for you. Either way, natural lunges or those with the use of weights can definitely benefit you, your body and your routine, more than you could possibly imagine.
There are many benefits from lunges, but one of the most compelling benefits from lunges is the symmetry, balance and strength that it can provide. Lunges actually allow each side of the body to be trained in an individual manner. Instead of training both sides at one time like you would for a squat, you can actually bring a weaker side up to par with your stronger side, further promoting balance, stability and a level bodily zen like never before. If you are right handed as opposed to left, and if you have ever tried to write with your left hand as opposed to your right, then you know the challenges of having a “weaker side.” Lunges can offer the opportunity for a weaker left leg to be brought up to speed with a right leg, which is definitely important if you have ever been debilitated by any injury that has caused muscle loss or “drop foot” in one of your legs. (1)
Lunges are known to primarily target your quadriceps and glutes; they are also known to work your core, hamstrings and calves. According to kingofthegym.com, most people actually inhibit the use of their glutes. This falls as a result of overactive hip flexors and spinal electors which are said to be chronically tight for many people, and the act of lunges is said to encourage and promote “glute activation.” This, in turn, further releases and neutralizes up tight hip flexors, overactive muscles and extends spinal electors. (1)
When you think of a lunge being performed in what we call “proper form,” you probably can visually imagine a person with one knee almost touching the ground, with another knee bent as if they were trying to get up from a kneeling position with arms postured directly downward from each side of the torso, fingertips pointed directly down as well. The back is perfectly straight and the head is facing forward in an upright position. When you think of all of the strength it takes to pull off that type of stance, it would be easy to see how a lunge can benefit your core and your back, as well. Lunges are known to easily stabilize, strengthen and harden your core muscles along your abdomen and back. When you strengthen any part of your core, over time you will start to see an improved level of posture that you probably did not have before. Lunges help activate, stimulate and strengthen the muscles that help keep you standing in an upright position. When you perfect those muscles with an exercise like the lunge, your muscles can better stabilize your posture and are then strong enough to support your head, neck, shoulder, arms, and even your legs. You may find that you even walk a little more fluidly, easier, stronger, and with less of a struggle. As we mentioned, there are many ways that you can perform a lunge. If you are interested in really taking advantage of the core strength that a lunge can provide, you can even add a weighted backpack to your walking lunges. (1, 2)
Another added benefit from lunges is called “spinal deloading,” which sounds intimidating and painful, right? Actually, it turns out, it’s far less painful than it sounds and is quite the opposite. Spinal Deloading is the technical term for “relax your back.” (3) If you have been training hardcore for a while and still want to work on your legs without skipping a beat, lunges, even with the assistance of dumbbells, will give you an awesome, yet “light” leg work out that relaxes your back and gives your spine a break from all of the compression it receives from heavy workout sessions. It is always a good idea to deload your spine if you are a heavy gym goer. Breakingmuscle.com tells us spinal deloading is a great way to give you gym gains and get the most from hardcore training sessions.
For women, a common misconception for the benefits of lunges is that you can achieve a Kardashian “like” backside from performing regular walking lunges. No matter how many Snapchat and Instagram videos we see of those ladies doing lunges in their gym, with their personal trainer, sadly, you cannot achieve a Kardashian backside from lunges. However, women can expect to see a tighter, lifted, plumper and rounded backside that they will most likely find appealing and worth lunging for. Lunges can definitely provide a nice butt lift, even more so if you add squats to your regimen as well. (4)
As you can see, lunges are a great exercise to incorporate into your pre-existing or up and coming workout routine. Whether you want to improve your core strength, spinal health, or build better balance and symmetry, you can’t go wrong with lunges, especially, since they are so versatile and can be done from anywhere, anytime, at your convenience. As mentioned before, you can always amp up your lunges, getting the most from your lunging efforts by adding the use of dumbbells or weighted backpacks. Lunges are great for a downgrade type workout session that helps stabilize and build muscle, while giving your body a break. You absolutely can’t go wrong with all of the benefits of lunges, because they are definitely worth lunging for.