In today's installment of Move It Monday, I've got a classic lower body move that is sure to strengthen your entire bottom half: the reverse lunge.
Whether forward, reverse, side-to-side, walking, you name it, lunges are amazing because they work the entire lower body including the glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps and calves. They target the large muscle groups in the legs but also engage some of the smaller stabilizing muscles making the exercise an excellent all around lower body movement.
Lunges also work the body unilaterally, meaning you are using one side of the body at a time (as opposed to a bilateral movement such as a squat). The advantage here is you can more easily notice differences in each side of the body which may be a result of muscle imbalances or overuse/underuse of a particular muscle group. For example, you may have a weaker glute on the left side of the body and when performing lunges, you are able to notice a difference in exercise output when doing lunges on the left side versus the right. Over time, if you didn't change anything, you might begin to experience synergistic dominance in which you engage other muscles to compensate for the weaker glute muscle. This could lead to faulty movement patterns, further imbalances or even injury. However, the good thing is, if you are able to pinpoint this difference when performing lunges, you can use this information to your advantage and work to further strengthen the area of weakness.
Why reverse lunges?
While reverse lunges are not necessarily 'easier' than other types of lunges, they are a bit easier to control making them an excellent place to start if you are new to working out or performing this type of lower body work. Because you are using your standing leg as the primary stabilizer and stepping backwards, you have a bit more control over the overall movement. Reverse lunges are also a better choice if you have any knee pain because the backward movement is less likely to cause extra rotation of your knee joint.
If you're looking for an a little extra balance and stabilization reverse lunges are a great option. Using the standing leg as your stabilizer, you can place more emphasis on the backward step by raising your opposite knee before slowly stepping back into the lunge. On the flip side, if you would rather add more power and plyometrics into the move, you can change up your reverse lunge by speeding up the movement and jumping between right and left sides.
Similar to the plank, you can do reverse lunges, or any lunges for that matter, anywhere! Waiting for dinner to cook, reverse lunge. Watching the kids at the playground, reverse lunge. Commercial break of the Bachelorette, reverse lunge. You get the idea. They don't take a lot of time, space or equipment but do them and you will feel them for sure!
Because of the versatility, plus the fact that you don't necessarily need any additional weight, makes reverse lunges an great choice for a lower body exercise.
How do you reverse lunge?
- Begin with your feet hip width apart with your hands on your hips.
- Stabilize on your right foot and take a large step backwards with your left leg gentling landing on the ball of your left foot.
- Make sure your knee tracks behind the toe of the standing foot and lower both legs to 90 degrees.
- Keeping your shoulders directly above your hips and chest proud avoiding overleaning forward or backwards during the movement.
- Push through the heel of the left foot and return to standing.
- Perform a set number of reps one the same side and switch leading legs or alternate legs for a set number of reps.
As you step backward and forward to stand, keep the legs at hip width or even a little wider to remain stable. Keep your spine long and engage your core as you step through the lunge movement to get a bonus core front/back workout while performing your lunges.
What are you waiting for? If you aren't already reverse lunging while reading this post, get to work already! My goal for you is to do 20 reverse lunges today and increase by four each day this week. By Sunday you should be rocking 44 reverse lunges!
Until next Monday's new move, happy lunging!!