Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Strength Every Runner Should Do: Lunges

No strength training program would be complete without including the often-underrated lunge. The lunge is an important move because it is a combination of standing and kneeling, both of which are important movements patterns we perform daily. Therefore, performing lunges will help us perform our regular daily functions in a more efficient manner. As a runner, lunges helps build strength and mobility in the hips and legs, allowing us to move more efficiently and remain injury free. Just as there are a million different ways to squat, there are a million ways to lunge. But first and foremost, it's important to master the initial lunge before progressing to more challenging variations and/or add weight to the move. If you can't master the lunge using only your body weight, adding additional weight can only further reduce the quality of the movement and potentially cause injury.

There are three main lunge movements I encourage every runner to do: the forward lunge, the reverse lunge and the side lunge. Doing these three forms of the lunge will help increase stability in the hips and legs, allowing you to move with a great range of motion. This will help you to move more efficiently and help keep you from getting hurt.

Forward Lunge:
                               


Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Your gaze is ahead of you with your ears over shoulders, your shoulders over hips, hips over knees and knees over ankles. Step forward into a lunge with your left foot. Keep your upper body upright with proper posture and your chest open and lifted (don’t bend forward at the waist) as you bend your knees, lowering your body until both of your legs form 90-degree angles. You back heel is raised with ankle over toes. Be sure to keep your hips level and do not sink into either side. Come up to starting position. Now step forward and lunge with your right foot. This is one rep. Aim for 2-3 sets of 10-12 repetitions as part of your regular strength training routine, adding weight when this becomes easy.

Reverse Lunge:

Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Your gaze is ahead of you with your ears over shoulders, your shoulders over hips, hips over knees and knees over ankles. Step backward into a lunge with your left foot. Keep your upper body upright with proper posture and your chest open and lifted (don’t bend forward at the waist) as you bend your knees, lowering your body until both of your legs form 90-degree angles. You back heel is raised with ankle over toes. Be sure to keep your hips level and do not sink into either side. Come up to starting position. Now step forward and lunge with your right foot. This is one rep. This lunging movement is typically more difficult for people with hip instability. I would make sure this lunge is always included in your workouts! Again, aim for 2-3 sets of 10-12 repetitions as part of your regular strength training routine, adding weight when this becomes easy. 

Side Lunge:

                       


Stand with your feet hip width apart with your hands clasped in front of you. Keeping your gaze forward and your abs tight, take a big step to the right with your right foot and bend your right knee 90 degrees, keeping your left leg extended. Make sure the weight is in your heel of your right foot. If you want you can raise arms straight out in front of you, keeping them parallel with your shoulder (do not raise higher than shoulder). As above, aim for 2-3 sets of 10-12 repetitions as part of your regular strength training routine, adding weight when this becomes easy. 

There are tons of different variations such as curtsy lunges, Bulgarian squats (which are a form of lunges), lunge jumps (where you jump into and out of lunge position), lunges on unstable surfaces and so many more. But, as always, be sure to master the basic lunge movement before adding weight, instability and jumps.

What's your favorite way to lunge? 


I'm linking up with Susie from the Suzlyfe, Lora Marie from Crazy Running Girl, Debbie from Coach Debbie Runs and Rachel from Running on Happy for the Coaches' Corner blog link up. Check these awesome ladies when you're done here!

14 comments:

  1. Last week, my coach had me doing forward to backward to forward and so on--no stopping x 10. It was hard but very effective!

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    1. That's great! I'm sure you were feeling that one!

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  2. One lunge set I love is what one of my workout discs calls Around the World Lunges. Side, diagonal, back. Repeat. I always end up feeling that one in my inner thighs.

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    1. Yup, that's it! Only I call it Around the Clock (12:00, 3:00, 6:00, 9:00, back to 12:00). Does the trick!

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  3. Side lunges are my favorite. I started doing more lunges and squats after meeting a hiker who said that those exercises made her legs strong enough to hike the Grand Canyon - rim to rim.

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    1. Absolutely! Side lunges are great hip stabilizers!

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  4. I'm usually really good about doing my lunges. I pulled something a couple weeks ago though so I haven't been doing them lately.

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    1. Ack! Hope it's feeling better so you can get back to lunging :)

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  5. I have a love/hate relationship with lunges (I prefer squats)....my balance is marginal (at best), so I'm constantly "swaying" as I do them. I have gotten better (since doing yoga), but I will not win any "best of form" awards LOL

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  6. Like I said last time (I think, who knows, lol)--my clients both love and hate me for the fact that I make them do so many lunges and squats and variations. But I tell you what--when you do them properly, they do amazing things!

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    1. Exactly! There's no magic to it, really. Good quality movements are all you need!

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  7. I love doing the curtsy lunge. Really works my hips too!

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