By Michelle October
Tone up your tush with this essential move!
Lunges are for legs, squats are for bums, right? Wrong. “The lunge is a much better movement to target the glutes (butt muscles) and thighs,” says Mark Kramer, lecturer in biomechanics and exercise physiology at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University.
“It also addresses imbalances since some people might be stronger or weaker on one side.” It’s a compound movement, meaning you target multiple areas at once – including your core.
And while it’s a great tool to sculpt your butt and legs, a study in the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research found that lunges also improved sprinting speed in athletes.
“It’ll enhance your ability to jump and run, improve your posture and challenge your stability,” says Cape Town-based physiotherapist Shanaaz Solomon.
The key to mastering this move is in your posture
Wobbling is a sign that you’re doing it wrong, says Solomon. Start by bracing those tummy muscles. “It’s a common mistake to forget to use your core,” says Solomon. If you’re still teetering, shorten your step distance. Watch yourself sideways in a mirror – “poor form can result in lower-back, knee and hip pain,” advises Solomon.
> You have hip or knee pain.
> You’re struggling to do them correctly, because you lose your balance.
> You’ve got poor mobility in your hips and lower back – this could lead to injury.
Learn the lingo: “Hip Flexors”
They’re not a new übercool stretch, but an important group of muscles, found around the hip area, that help you lift your knees and bend at your waist. Poor hip mobility likely means tight hip flexors.
Hurt something while lunging? Could be your hip flexors. And it affects your lunge form, says Solomon.
The test: “Watch for forward tilting of your hips or an increase in your lumbar curvature (the curve in your lower back),” says Solomon.
The fix: Stretch them with a glute bridge – lie on your back, knees bent and lift hips off the floor, pressing your heels into the floor for stability. Hold briefly, then lower and repeat.
Looking for more basic moves to master? Here are the tips you need to do squats like a pro, the key pointers for nailing the plank correctly, plus the right way to do a burpee and the sit-up.