It’s all about functional movement.
What is the point of working out if it’s not making your life better? Sometimes I ask people why they chose to do an exercise (aka biceps curls – you know who I’m talking about…) and they either have no idea or it’s just to make their arms look better (come on, bro, enough with your arms! ). I mean, I get the reason, but what if the exercises you choose to do are actually REDUCING your functional movement? And what does that mean? It means your body will not work as well, which leads to muscle imbalances, chronic pain and a much higher injury risk.
Instead, I always start by asking which exercises would give you the most bang for your buck? Which exercises will help make you look good, while also IMPROVING functional movement. Improving functional movement means you will improve coordination and strength, while also improving your body’s ability to move in different directions and planes with balance, power and flexibility. This lowers your risk of chronic pain and injury and helps you move better in sports and life.
Okay, so can we agree that these are the kind of exercises you want to focus your time on? If you agree, then have another look at lunges. They tone your legs and butt, burn lots of calories and also strengthen your glutes and core, while improving flexibility in your hips, ankles, etc.. Plus, they are super functional. Almost every sport and everyday life requires some kind of lunge movement. Yes, this is a love letter to lunges and I don’t care who hears me… I LOVE YOU LUNGES!
It’s all about good form.
Okay… it’s not enough to love lunges… You have to use good form or they won’t love you back! Check out the image above. It gives you all the notes you need to get the most out of lunges. What I love most about them is they really challenge your balance. They’re hard to do the right way. In the beginning, you’ll feel wobbly. Good!! That’s all those little muscles in your body working to keep you from falling. It’s a full body exercise that will make you sweat! You might feel creaky. It may be hard to get the full range of motion. That’s okay… just do what you can. As time goes on, try and get the full range of motion of the exercise.
Then, when you’re ready, add some weight. Kettlebells are great, but you can also hold dumbells. Heck, you can even hold heavy books or water jugs. You’ll start to get the motion down and it will start to feel a lot more fluid and natural. Good, now you’re ready to challenge yourself some more. Here’s the really good news. You can do ALL kinds of different lunges in different angles, planes and with different amounts of power (static, walking, jumping, etc).
Here’s a quick example… Reverse lunges:
You can do lunges anytime, anywhere.
You get the idea? There are all kinds of different lunges you can work up to… As you know, I created HEM Ankle Rehab and I use lunges to also help challenge your ankles and balance. It’s a great way to start increasing strength, balance, and flexibility in your ankles. It’s just one little tool, but man, it’s a good one!
Oh and I forgot the best part… you do NOT need a gym for this incredible exercise. You don’t need weights or equipment. You can do them anywhere, anytime. I do them sometimes when I’m walking my dog. Yeah, I’m doing lunges over here!!
So, get after it. Start incorporating lunges into your workouts. Or here’s a thought… If you’re at your desk for more than 1 hour. Stand up and do 3 sets of lunges on each leg. Oh yeah… get the blood flowing and make your body move functionally for 5 minutes. It certainly does NOT hurt to strengthen your glutes more, since most people sit all day!
You don’t need a full workout. Just get them in throughout the day. The thing that will surprise you the most is how much BETTER you get at doing them. And then, you’ll notice you move better throughout the day too, just naturally.
So, that’s my love letter to lunges. I hope you learn to love them too!!