I am a big fan of lunges. EVERY SINGLE TYPE!
I incorporate lunges in 90% of my fitness programs. I believe the benefits are great for athletes and beginners alike.
I could write all about lunges and the countless variations, but to keep from writing a book today I am going to focus on the walking lunge. The walking lunge primarily strengthens the quads and the glutes, but strengthens many other parts of the body as well. I picked the walking lunge for two reasons; 1. I have been doing a lot of them, thus they are on my mind and 2. I use them the most with the majority of my athletes.
Walking lunges are beneficial to both elite athletes and newbies to the fitness world. The reason for this is simple: walking lunges carry over to everyday life. Walking lunges strengthen the muscles used when walking or running and increases your stability.
For athletes, the walking lunge is a unilateral anti-rotational/flexion movement that allows them to isolate and strengthen both legs. They spend most of their time on one foot running, jumping and diving, so I want them to be as strong as possible in those positions.
Athletes need to build stability in all areas, but especially in the legs and specifically in and around the knee. A lot of injuries in sports are non-contact and deceleration injuries. Utilizing the walking lunge correctly can prevent many of these injuries. If you learn to control the deceleration of your lunge, you can strengthen your muscles in and around your knee and prevent injuries on the field.
I see athletes all the time who do not spend enough time on unilateral movements. For instance, I have an athlete who squats 400+ and deadlifts 500+, but struggles with walking lunges. This is because he has spent so much time in the bilateral stance, so single leg stability isn’t there yet. He is improving and will continue to do so as he continues to implement unilateral movements like walking lunges into his program.
There are few variations to the walking lunge. I primarily use the dumbbell walking lunge, but you can also use the goblet position or a barbell in the front or back position.
In the video below I will talk about form specifics but a few things to make sure you’re doing:
- Keep your shoulders back. Don’t want to let your shoulders roll forward, causing your torso to collapse
- Keep your torso upright
- Brace your core to prevent movement
- Nice long stride you can control
- Land heel to toe
- Keep your shin vertical
- Drive up through your whole foot
- Your body should move forward as you move through the concentric part of the movement
- Avoid leading with your hip as you come out of the lunge position
With any lunge you want make sure to keep your shin as vertical as possible and keep your knee from moving forward.
One added benefit of the walking lunge is that there is a mobility component to it. You get to work on hip mobility and also build strength at the same time. To get that added benefit make sure you take a nice big stride but still stay in control of the movement.
When adding this to your fitness program, use it as an assistance movement to your main movements as it will build up your weaknesses.
I like to use it in the 2-4 set range from anywhere to 6-15 reps.
WARNING you will get sore!
I am big fan of this movement and use it with all types of clients. I think it will be a great addition to your programming and help you in many ways.
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