When Lunges Go Wrong

My time at the gym is taken up by my programmed activities. I tend to bury my head in it. Every now and then I look around and see good people doing good exercises really badly. I very rarely act on my urge to correct them.

I recently came across a chap doing dumbbell lunges bolt upright with obvious low back extension, forward traveling knee and a pelvis that was out of control. On every rep yet! I could see an injury in the making. This time (a rarity) I stepped in by asking if he would mind a little constructive criticism. After doing my thing for a minute, he explains that he was doing it in this manner to get a hip flexor stretch. And that’s when it struck home. Either he misunderstood whoever or whatever media he got it from or his source of instruction wasn’t comprehensive enough. Basically he was doing a loaded strength exercise using form cues from a flexibility/mobility perspective. Not correct.

Enter my favourite cue and movement pattern-the hip hinge which loads the glutes and hamstrings; the basic movement engine. The hip hinge is used for everything else we do for the lower body-squats, deadlifts etc., but tends to disapear during some peoples lunges. I teach a slight forward lean that comes from hinging at the hip for a more powerful, solid lunge and subsequent powerful hip and knee extension as you step up and out. there is an unmistakeable sense of strength and stability from doing lunges in this manner compared to the full upright version. Knee and pelvic stability improve greatly because of this movement cue.

If you’re doing these because you feel they will make you look better then have at it but if you care about moving in the real world than I suggest you practice the hip hinge version. Your joints will love you for it.

Are We Doing Lunges Wrong? Hint: Maybe

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