Why do Lunges? Facts and Tips on Lunging to Work Your Legs

Stop forward walking lunges if they hurt your knees!
Modify the lunge to be nicer on the knees. Click here to find out how.

leg and leg muscles

> Incorporates movement from all the major leg muscles 
> Develops strength and endurance of the lower leg muscles
> Requires balance, flexibility, strength and coordination
> Will make your bum tight and your legs strong
> Note: it’s complex movement, difficult for beginner exercisers

When you lunge, there’s a lot of joint action happening.
All the joints in the legs move during a lunge – the ankle, the knee, and the hip joint. The muscles that act on those joints move you into and out of the lunge. Gravity helps on the way down, during the eccentric phase of the movement. No help on the concentric phase.

Tighten and tone the following muscles doing lunges:

Calf muscles* act at the ankle joint 
   What’s the joint action? plantar flexion
   Tip: Keep your heels down

Quadriceps** act at the knee joint
   What stands you up? Knee Extension
   Tip: The joint works best when knees don’t knock in or bow out

Gluteus maximus and hamstrings*** act at the hip joint
   The more range of motion, the better the hip extension. 
   Tip: Drop low, then stand tall between lunges. 

NASM CPT Study Tip: In NASM’s Essentials of Personal Fitness Training, muscle image and descriptions in the appendix make learning the muscles and muscle functions very difficult. Under quadricep muscles, for example, you’ll read “Isolated Function: Concentrically accelerating knee extension”. In similar textbooks the wording is a bit friendlier, like AFFA’s description in Personal Fitness: Training, Theory and Practice: “prime mover for knee extension”. Find a CPT study resource that works for you, regardless of what test you’re taking.

*What are the muscles of the calf? The gastrocnemius is the meaty calf muscle; the soleus sits beaneath it.
**What are the quadricep muscles? Rectus femoris, vastus medialis, vastus lateralis, vastus intermedius.
***What are the muscles of the hamstring? Biceps femoris, semimembranosus, semitendinosus

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