Lunges are one of the best unilateral exercises and as such should be staple in any runner’s workout routine. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned pro, lunges are an essential exercise for runners. They help to build strength and stability in the legs, which can improve your running form and prevent injury.
There are many different ways to do lunges, so it’s important to find a variation that works for you. If you’re new to lunges, start with a basic forward lunge. From there, you can try different variations like reverse lunges, side lunges, and even lunge jumps.
Experiment with different lunge exercises to find what works best for you and your running goals.
What are lunges?
Lunges are a type of strength and stability training exercise that works your legs and lower body. You can do lunges with just your body weight, or with added weights such as dumbbells or a barbell.
How to Do Lunges: The Basic Format
Lunges are relatively simple to do and only require a small amount of space. To do a lunge, stand with feet about shoulder-width apart. Step forward with one leg, keeping your other leg back. Lower your body down so both knees are bent at about 90 degrees. Make sure your leading knee does not extend past your toes. Push back up to the starting position and repeat with the other leg and continue alternating legs for the desired number of repetitions.
How to Do Lunges: The Advanced Format
Once you have mastered the basic lunge format, you can try some variations to make the exercise more challenging. For example, you can try lunges with a twist. To do this, simply twist your torso as you lunge forward, reaching your arms out to the side. You can also try lunges with a jump. To do this, lunge forward as usual, but jump up into the air as you push back up to starting position.
Tips For Maximizing the Benefits of Lunges:
- Use a full range of motion by lowering your body until your knee is nearly touching the ground.
- Add resistance by holding a dumbbell or kettlebell in each hand or wearing a weighted vest.
- Perform the exercise slowly and with control.
- Focus on squeezing your glutes and quads as you perform the exercise.
- Do not let your knees cave inwards as you lower your body.
Tips for How To Do A Basic Lunge: Proper Form & Technique
Lunges are a basic, yet essential, exercise for runners. Here are some tips for doing them correctly:
- Choose the right stance.
- Engage your core.
- Keep your back straight.
- Keep your head up.
- Bend your knees until they are at a 90-degree angle.
- Start with your feet shoulder-width apart and your hands on your hips.
- Step forward with one leg, keeping your knee above your ankle. As a runner, I find it helpful to imagine that I am trying to touch my front knee to the floor with each lunge. This helps me keep my upper body upright and not lean too far forward.
- Lower your body until your front thigh is parallel to the ground. For example, if you are starting with your right foot forward then your right knee should be directly above your right ankle, and your left thigh should be parallel to the ground. If you can’t go that low, just go as far down as you can while keeping good form. Be sure to keep your front knee from going past your toes, and try to keep your chest up and shoulders back throughout the movement.
- To come out of the lunge, simply drive through your heels to return to standing position. You can also do a reverse lunge by stepping back with your left foot first. Lunges take practice, so don’t get discouraged if you can’t do them perfectly at first. Just keep practicing and eventually, you’ll get the hang of it.
- Repeat with the other leg.
- As you get better at lunges, you can hold dumbbells in each hand to make them more challenging. If you are using dumbbells or kettlebells, make sure to keep them close to your body as you lunge. This will help you maintain balance.
- Remember to keep your upper body upright and your core engaged throughout the exercise.
- If you want to make your lunges more challenging, you can try doing them on an unstable surface like a Bosu ball or a stability ball.
- You can also try doing lunges with a resistance band around your legs to make them more difficult.
- Make sure to warm up before you start doing lunges and cool down afterwards to avoid injuries.
If you want to include lunges in your training program, I recommend doing strength training on the days that you do lunges. This will help you build up the muscles needed to do lunges properly.
What Are The Benefits of Lunges For Runners?
Lunges are a great exercise for runners because they work multiple muscle groups, including the hamstrings, glutes, and quads. By working these muscles, lunges can help prevent common running injuries, such as hamstring strains and IT band syndrome. Additionally, lunges are unilateral exercises, which means they help improve balance and stability. This is especially important for runners because they are often unbalanced from running on one side of the road or trail. Finally, lunges are a great way to increase the intensity of your workout without putting extra stress on your joints.
Here are some of the benefits of lunges for runners:
1. They help to build strength and power in the legs
Lunges target the major muscles in the legs, such as the quads, hamstrings and glutes. Stronger legs can help to improve your running economy and make you a faster, more efficient runner.
2. They can improve your balance, flexibility and coordination
Lunges can help to improve the range of motion in your hips and knees. This can lead to an improved running economy and reduced risk of injury. They can also improve your balance and stability because they force you to engage your core muscles
3. Reduced risk of injury
Lunges help to strengthen the stabilizing muscles around the knee and hip. This can help to reduce your risk of common running injuries such as iliotibial band syndrome and patellofemoral pain syndrome.
4. Improve running economy
Lunges can help to improve your running economy by teaching your muscles to work more efficiently. This can lead to an improved running economy and faster running times.
5. Increase hip mobility
Lunges can help to increase the mobility of your hips. This can lead to an improved running economy and reduced risk of injury.
6. They can be performed with bodyweight or with added resistance.
Performing lunges with resistance, such as holding dumbbells, can help to increase strength and power. For example, holding dumbbells in each hand will increase the difficulty of the exercise. If you are new to lunges, start with bodyweight only and gradually add resistance as you get stronger.
7. They can be done anywhere, without needing any special equipment.
Lunges are a great exercise to do if you’re travelling because you can do them anywhere, without needing any special equipment. All you need is a flat surface.
8. They target all of the muscles in your legs.
As we mentioned, lunges target all of the muscles in your legs, including your quads, hamstrings, and glutes. This is important because all of these muscles are used when you run.
9. They can help to improve your running form.
If you have good form while you’re running, you’ll be able to run faster and with less effort. Lunges can help you improve your form by teaching you how to properly engage your muscles.
10. They’re a great way to warm up before a run.
Lunges are a great way to warm up before a run because they get your muscles warm and ready to work. This can help you avoid injuries and help you run better overall.
11. They’re a great way to add variety to your workout routine.
If you’re looking for a way to add some variety to your workout routine, lunges are a great option. They’re relatively easy to learn and they can be done in a variety of ways.
How Often Should You Do Lunges?
Lunges are a great way to improve your running form and speed. But how often should you do them?
For most runners, doing lunges two to three times per week is plenty. But if you’re just starting out, you may want to do them more frequently, such as every other day.
Here’s a quick guide to help you determine how often you should do lunges, based on your goals and running experience.
If you’re new to running: If you’re just starting out, you may want to do lunges every other day. This will help you get used to the movement and improve your form.
If you’re training for a race: If you’re training for a race, you’ll want to do lunges two to three times per week. This will help improve your running form and speed.
If you’re an experienced runner: If you’re an experienced runner, you may only need to do lunges once or twice per week. This will help maintain your running form and speed.
No matter your experience level, be sure to listen to your body and not overdo it. If you start to feel pain in your knees, hips, or back, take a break from lunges and consult with a doctor or physical therapist.
Other Lunge Variations to Try
Lunge variations can really add a lot to your workout routine. You can do them with or without dumbbells, but they’re a great way to make the move more challenging. There are tons of variations out there, so don’t be afraid to experiment and find the ones that work best for you. Here are a few to get you started:
1. Forward Lunge:
This is the most basic lunge form and is a great starting point for beginners. Simply step forward with one leg and lower your body until your front knee is at a 90-degree angle and your back knee is just above the floor.
2. Reverse Lunge:
This variation is performed by stepping backwards instead of forward. This puts more emphasis on the muscles in the front of your legs, so it’s a great way to add some variety to your routine.
3. Side Lunge:
This variation targets the muscles on the sides of your legs. Step out to the side with one leg and lower your body until your knees are both at 90-degree angles.
4. Walking Lunge:
This variation is great for adding some cardio to your routine. Instead of standing in one spot, keep moving forward by taking alternating steps forward with each lunge.
5. Curtsy Lunge:
This variation adds an extra challenge by requiring you to balance on one leg while you lunge diagonally behind you with the other leg. Start with your feet together and then step one leg behind you and across your body as you lower into a lunge.
What Muscles Do Runner’s Lunges Work?
When you are running, your body is working hard to move you forward. Your leg muscles, including your glutes and hip flexors, are doing a lot of work to keep you moving and balanced. Lunges target and work these muscles.
When you do a lunge, you are essentially working one leg at a time, which can be beneficial for runners who are looking to improve their single-leg strength.
There are a few different muscles that are worked during a lunge, but the main ones are the quadriceps, glutes, and hamstrings. The quadriceps are the muscles on the front of the thigh, and they are responsible for extending the knee. The glutes are the muscles of the buttock, and they help to extend the hip. The hamstrings are the muscles on the back of the thigh, and they are responsible for flexing the knee and extending the hip.
So, when you do a lunge, you are essentially working all of these muscles at once. This can be beneficial for runners because it can help to improve their overall lower body strength and power.
Why Use the Reverse Lunge?
The reverse lunge is a variation of the traditional lunge, which targets the quads, hamstrings, and glutes. The reverse lunge also works the core muscles and stabilizers.
Here are some of the benefits of the reverse lunge:
1. Improve Balance and Coordination
The reverse lunge helps to improve your balance and coordination. This is because you are constantly changing directions and moving your body in different planes of motion.
2. Increase Speed and Power
The reverse lunge can also be used to increase your speed and power. This is because you are using your bodyweight to resistance train.
3. Increase Range of Motion
The reverse lunge also helps to increase your range of motion. This is because you are stretching your muscles in new ways and challenging your balance.
4. Builds Muscle
The reverse lunge is an excellent exercise for building muscle. This is because you are using your own bodyweight as resistance.
5. Improves Posture
The reverse lunge can also help to improve your posture. This is because you are lengthening your muscles and improving your balance.
6. Prevents Injuries
The reverse lunge is also a great exercise for preventing injuries. This is because you are strengthening your muscles and improving your balance.
7. Increases Endurance
The reverse lunge is also a great exercise for increasing your endurance. This is because you are using your muscles in new ways and challenging your balance.
8. Burns Fat
The reverse lunge is also a great exercise for burning fat. This is because you are using your muscles in new ways and challenging your balance.
9. Improves Flexibility
The reverse lunge is also a great exercise for improving your flexibility. This is because you are stretching your muscles in new ways and challenging your balance.
10. It’s Fun!
The reverse lunge is also a great exercise because it’s fun! This is because you are constantly changing directions and moving your body in different planes of motion.
To perform a reverse lunge, stand with your feet hip-width apart and your hands on your hips. Step backwards with your right leg and lower your body until your left thigh is parallel to the floor. Return to the starting position and repeat with your left leg.
The Common Mistakes People Make When Doing The Runner’s Lunge
The lunge is a great exercise for runners, but many people make some common mistakes when doing this move. Here are some tips to help you avoid these mistakes and get the most out of your lunge workout.
Mistake #1: Not Keeping Your Core Engaged
When you lung, be sure to keep your core engaged the entire time. This will help you maintain good form and prevent your lower back from rounding.
Mistake #2: Letting Your Knee collapse Inward
Letting your knee collapse inward when you lunge is a common mistake. This puts unnecessary stress on your knee joint and can lead to injury.
Mistake #3: Not Reaching Full Range of Motion
In order to fully benefit from the lunge, you need to reach the full range of motion. This means lowering your back knee down to the ground.
Mistake #4: Not Keeping Your Front Foot Flat
If you don’t keep your front foot flat when you lunge, you’ll put unnecessary stress on your ankle and knee.
Mistake #5: Not Keeping Your Weight Equal Between Both Legs
When you lunge, be sure to keep your weight equally between both legs. This will help you maintain good form and prevent one side of your body from getting more work than the other.
By avoiding these common mistakes, you’ll be able to get the most out of your lunge workout and prevent injuries.
Other Unilateral Exercises to Try
When you think of unilateral exercises, what probably comes to mind are things like lunges and single-leg deadlifts. And while those are great exercises for building lower body strength, they’re not the only unilateral exercises out there.
In fact, there are plenty of unilateral exercises that can benefit runners. Here are a few of our favorites:
1. Skater Hops
Skater hops are a great way to build explosive power in the lower body. To do them, start in a half-squat position with your feet about hip-width apart. From there, jump to the side, landing on your left foot and bringing your right leg behind you.
Once you land, immediately jump to the other side, landing on your right foot and bringing your left leg behind you. Continue alternating sides for 30-60 seconds.
2. Lateral Lunges
Lateral lunges are a great way to target the muscles on the sides of your legs. To do them, start standing with your feet together. Step to the side with your right foot and lower your body into a lunge.
Make sure your right knee doesn’t go past your right ankle and your left leg is straight. Push off your right foot and return to the starting position. Repeat on the other side.
3. single-leg deadlifts
Single-leg deadlifts are a great way to build strength and stability in the legs and hips. To do them, start standing with your feet together.
Lift your right leg off the ground and balance on your left leg. From there, hinge at your hips and lower your torso until your upper body is parallel to the ground.
Make sure to keep your left leg straight and your right leg elevated the entire time. Return to the starting position and repeat on the other side.
4. Bulgarian Split Squats
Bulgarian split squats are a great way to target the muscles in the front of the legs. To do them, start by placing your left foot on a bench or step behind you.
lowering your body until your right thigh is parallel to the ground. Make sure to keep your torso upright and your left knee from going past your left ankle.
Push off your right foot and return to the starting position. Repeat on the other side.
5. single-leg RDLs
Single-leg RDLs are a great way to build strength and stability in the hamstrings and glutes. To do them, start standing on your left leg with your right leg behind you, hinge at your hips, and lower your torso until your upper body is parallel to the ground.
Make sure to keep your left leg straight and your right leg elevated the entire time. Return to the starting position and repeat on the other side.
Overall, lunges are a great exercise for runners because they help improve strength and stability in the legs. They also help increase range of motion in the hips and knees, which can lead to better running form and performance. Lunges can be done with bodyweight only, or with added weight for more challenge. Be sure to warm up thoroughly before attempting any lunges, and listen to your body to avoid injury.