Perfecting the Lunge

December 9, 2020

It’s All About Angles in Lunges


The lunge is a VERY good exercise to strengthen the quads (thigh muscle) and glutes. However, if done incorrectly, it is a wasted movement that causes major injury in the knee.

Now, this is about the forward and backward lunges. If you hear me in class, I usually shout, “Take big steps and drop the body down!”


Lunges do not need to be a big step if 90 degree angles are formed at the knee joint.

You can see in the picture to the left that the knee is in front of the foot. These types of lunges put IMMENSE stress around the knee cap area.

2 things often happen when this occurs:


1) The user feels discomfort/pain

2) The user does not get low enough to engage all the possible muscles


Remember: to get stronger, you must work the muscle in its full range of motion.

If you are constantly cutting your range 50+ or more, that is less than 50% of the muscle fibers working and there will be ZERO progress and growth.


Looking to the next picture on the left you can see the user has a 90-degree angle in both knees.

*ignore the knee down, that isn’t necessary* 

This person simply looks cleaner versus the photo on top where the small, improper lunge looks awkward. 


Additional Key Pointers
(Please refer to the second picture on the left):


  1. Back heel MUST be up to give your heel and calf the flexibility to lunge
  2.  Tall chest *aka no forward* to avoid low back involvement
  3. The back knee is after the hip versus the back knee before the hip in the top photo
  4. When stepping, step wide if you feel unbalanced. If your step is narrow like a supermodel on a runaway, you will spend more time trying to balance.
  5. Widen your base for better balance. Once your quads and glutes are stronger, you can start to narrow your base.



The Author

Carlo Varquez, M.S.

I believe in the practice of preventative health. The only way to combat chronic diseases is through preventative action such as exercise and diet. My health and wellness career started within myself. After being an active person in high school through sports, my fitness dropped entering college. I gained unhealthy habits that lead to weight gain. To prevent any complications, I made some time to be active again by picking up weight lifting. Through that, I found myself wanting to help others before it was too late for them. As I gained my masters degree, I interned at the Cardiac Rehabilitation department at Advocate Lutheran General. I saw firsthand what cardiovascular disease can do, and what the action plan is to help those people return back to their daily routine. The time to make change is now, but it doesn’t need to be done alone. The science behind exercise is a powerful tool that is often overlooked. I want to motivate and increase self-efficacy to help others achieve their goals.

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