I don’t think people dislike them just because they dislike them. I do believe people aren’t the biggest fans of lunges for really two reasons. Ironically, the real issues of lunges are tied to one another. Sure, most people don’t love focusing on lunges because they are REALLY challenging and they aren’t good at them. That’s why we have done so much to help people solve the lunge dilemma with Ultimate Sandbag exercises.
Fortunately lunges have come a long ways in the last few years. It wasn’t very long ago that lunges were being written off as cheesy aerobic class types of movements. Simply because the weights used in the lunges were so much smaller than squats and deadlifts people believed they weren’t effective in building strength.
The rise of functional fitness, or maybe I should say, the better understanding of functional training has allowed lunges to come front and center again. I like to believe us pounding the drums on this subject and showing real solutions with Ultimate Sandbag exercises has helped this cause!
More Movement, More Muscle
One of the ideas we have tried to educate people on is the simple idea that numbers lie. I get it, years ago if you told me that I could do a 300 pound squat or a 100 pound lunge, I would tell you the 300 pound squat was more useful every day of the week! As I looked into the research though, it became more and more apparent that just looking at numbers wasn’t the whole story.
In one of my favorite studies, researchers looked at female college volleyball players to see which lower body exercise stimulated the most muscles of the lower body. Probably not too shocking it came down to lunges and squats. What WAS surprising was how much more the lunges impacted muscles like the glutes so much more than squats. Especially when you realize it was a body weight lunge versus loaded squats!
Instead of just looking at this as a squat versus lunge conversation, we should look for the deeper impact. That is mostly that slight instability causes more muscles to become active. That makes sense since as we move in life, we don’t get stabilized before we produce force, we have to move and stabilize at the same time. As the researchers state….
“By training the athletes in the body weight lunge, they can obtain the same results of that of squat to 90 ̊ training. The lunge allows the athlete to be in a more sport functional position. From the basic lunge position of the knees flexed to 90 ̊ we can begin to train explosive recovery moves, which would transfer over to competition. Ideally, athletes should be training their kinetic chain fluidly and dynamically; the more dynamic the activity the more fluid the athlete’s movement and posture will be in competition. As a coach, personal trainer or athletic trainer, we should begin to worry when movement gets ridged because of the susceptibility to injury.”
Athlete or just wanting to be healthy and strong, it is obvious using Ultimate Sandbag exercises building up our lunge can build some incredible resiliency and real world strength.
Your Sold, Now What?
Even those that do believe in the power of lunging (heck it is one of the primal movement patterns), still struggle to get people to perform it successfully. There are some simple reasons that this occurs…..
-We don’t start in the right position or direction: Using half kneeling positions is a great way to teach concepts of the lunge like how to deal with frontal plane instability, engage the ground with both feet, and integrating core tension. Jessica demonstrates below a great foundational way to teach the lunge, but clients will love the core training that comes with it!
Direction with the lunge also matters. One of the things that makes lunges unique is the fact they have direction to their movement. While most of us are introduced to lunging going forwards, that is actually backwards in building progression. Moving forward means we have to decelerate more of our body’s mass, while lunging backwards means easier. That is why so much of our Ultimate Sandbag exercises with the lunge start with us moving in the reverse.
Here is a great way to teach how to progress the half kneeling posture with Ultimate Sandbag exercises like the shinbox get-up press out. Right from our Restoration program.
-Core is very important for lunges!: When people talk about lunges you will hear all about the ankles, knees, and glutes which are all important. However, what people miss is the importance of the core to building the lunge. How does the core make a lunge better?
The more stability our body creates through the spine, the better our shoulders and hips move. Jessica just talked about this the other day with shoulder (you can read HERE), but it works for the hips too! People are often shocked by how activating the core during the lunge can translate into moving and feeling so much better. That is why these Ultimate Sandbag exercises accomplish so many goals at once.
Sure, they will absolutely make your lunge better, but they will also improve your shoulders, low back, and teach the body about connections better than almost anything else. Focus on grip of pulling the Ultimate Sandbag apart, think about driving both feet into the ground, drive from the bellybutton and not the chest, and most of all see how these Ultimate Sandbag exercises are so transformative!