Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Perfect Lunge

The lunge, a common exercise to tone and build your legs and glutes. But are you doing it as effectively and as safely as you can? There are so many versions of a lunge but to start I am going to talk about the most basic, the stationary lunge. The stationary lunge exercise is a multi-joint functional exercise and should be performed that way. What I mean by a multi-joint functional exercise is moving more than one joint at a time. With this particular exercise the hip, knee and ankle joints are all involved.

A common mistake of a lunge is performing the exercise with most if not all of your body weight on your front foot and lunging forward rather than straight down. If you do this you will put most of the stress of the exercise on the quadriceps. With this excess stress, it also increases stress on the patellofemoral joint (knee) which can lead to an overuse injury. Isolating the quadriceps isn’t a bad thing but there are other, more safe exercises out there if that is your end goal.

Find the correct positioning:
*Start by using the 90-90 rule. Kneel on the ground with one leg forward and position your knees at a 90 degree bend. From that position, stand up. This should give you a proper distance on how long your stance should be.

*Next check your joint alignment making sure your feet are hip width apart so your ankle, knee and hip are all align.

*Keeping your spine and pelvis in a neutral position, lead with your back leg and lower yourself towards the floor. Picture a pole running straight through your body and all you can do is move up or down on that pole in order to prevent you from lunging forward.

*Keep your torso erect with proper posture as well throughout the lunge movement. If you have a hard time keeping yourself upright and lean forward, this may be a result of poor hip joint flexibility and a weakened core. Try stretching your hip flexors prior to performing the lunge. This may help for the short term but keep working on the hip flexibility and core strengthening to ensure proper movement long term.

If at anytime your technique breaks, drop your weight if you have added some or take a rest. You risk injuring yourself if you continue training your body this way. Doing 8 good reps is much better than doing 12 bad ones!

Written by Dana Hansen
Fitness Director
Seattle Athletic Club Northgate


  1. Dana, Thanks for the instruction. I tend to feel stress in my knee Primarily the medial patellar tendon, but will try your technique recommendations and let you know how it works. David Weber

  2. David let me know how it goes! If that doesn't work there might be some other things going on in which I can possibly help. A lot of the time technique is altered because there is an imbalance of muscle strength and/or range of motion as well as pain. So there might be some assisting exercises that may help to build up the support of your knee while performing a particular movement.