The Benefits of Lunges

Whether you're trying to shape your lower body, increase muscle tissue, develop core strength or make your hips more flexible, the lunge can help you achieve your goal. This functional, multi-joint exercise can be modified to meet your fitness level. Whether you're doing basic beginner lunges or take on a more advanced variety, such as lunges with your rear foot elevated, the exercise is beneficial in more ways than one.

Woman doing a lunge with weights (Image: Dana Bartekoske/iStock/Getty Images)

Strengthen Your Buttocks and Legs

According to the American Council on Exercise, lunges are one of the most effective lower-body exercises and are right up there with squats, step-ups and quadruped and four-way hip extensions. They effectively work your glutes and quadriceps and also engage your hamstrings. Strengthening these large muscle groups can speed up your metabolism, which is beneficial if you're trying to lose weight. When excess fat is reduced from your lower body, lunges can help you shape, tone and firm up your tush and legs.

Improve Core Strength

Believe it or not, lunges can improve your core strength. When doing lunges, you must engage your core muscles, including your back and abdominals, to keep your body upright and balanced as you move your hips up and down. Neglecting to do this results in poor form and can trigger injuries. Having a strong core is essential because it eases daily activities, relieves lower back pain and improves your balance, posture, stability and athletic performance.

Improve Hip Flexibility

Lunges can improve the flexibility of your hip flexors, which are the muscles you use to bend or flex your legs at your hips. Often these muscles are neglected, and if you lead a predominantly sedentary lifestyle, they can be tight and trigger low back pain. When you do a lunge, you basically force your hip flexors to stretch. If you place your back knee on the floor and slightly lean forward from your hips, you can really get a nice hip stretch.

Things to Consider

Before taking on lunge varieties, such as lateral lunges and reverse lunges, learn to do the basic front lunge with proper form. Mastering proper form can provide optimal results and minimizes your risk of injuries. During front lunges, it's essential that you lower straight down with your pelvis flexed forward and your back straight. Ensure that you step your foot far enough forward so that the middle of your front knee is directly above your ankle during the downward motion. Lower your hips until your knees are about 90 degrees bent and place your weight on the back two-thirds of your front foot during the exercise.

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