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Proper Way to Do Lunges: Tips, Tricks and Warnings

written by: Rochelle Connery • edited by: Cheryl Gabbert • updated: 4/20/2011

Lunges are a common exercise stable in the strength-building and weight loss world. Many people don’t enjoy performing lunges, no matter how popular they are. However, this might be due to improper lunge execution. Learn the proper way to do lunges, plus some tips on how to make them more fun.

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    Tips for Proper Lunge Execution

    There is a right way and a wrong way to do lunges. The proper way to do lunges begins with a straight upper torso. You don’t want to lean forward or backward too much. You also don’t want to put undue pressure on your knees, so don’t press down hard on your legs to maintain balance as you lunge.

    Put your best foot forward when starting a lunge. Step a foot one length out in front of you, but not so far you have to really heave yourself forward to get launched. Place your foot flat on the floor – no toes only! Bend your knee to a 90 degree angle, keeping your knee directly up from your toes. Drop your back knee until it’s just a couple inches off the floor in a similar 90-degree position. Hold this position for two seconds, then walk forward into the next lunge.

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    Warnings for Proper Lunge Execution

    Doing lunges improperly can result in damaging your knees and getting tendonitis, not to mention some serious joint pain.

    The biggest problem most people have in doing lunges is overextending the knee past the toes. They end up leaning their whole bodies forward, which results in putting way too much pressure on the front foot.

    Also, keep your hands hanging by your sides as you lunge. Folding your hands and leaning them on top of your knees will place more undue pressure on your joints, making them get sore before long.

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    Tricks for Proper Lunge Execution

    The proper way to do lunges involves a few tricks here and there. Here’s what you can do to improve the way you do lunges and keep them pain-free.

    • Leave your weight on your back leg. Putting pressure on the front knee is a no-no. If anything, tip slightly back so you don’t stress the front leg. But ideally, you want to keep that spine straight, which will keep the weight where it needs to be.
    • Wear tennis shoes. Slipping around in bare feet isn’t great on your joints, and keeping your feet supported in shoes is better than lunging without any support. Working your feet too much without the right support can cause tendonitis (which is incredibly painful, by the way).
    • Relieve knee pressure with altered lunges. Sometimes dipping that back leg down close to the ground results in joint pain. You can avoid this by keeping the back leg extended at an angle, instead of bent inward. This is more comfortable and isn’t so hard on people with stiff joints or those prone to knee pain.
    • Give your arms something to do. Keeping your hands off your legs is tough, as it’s a subconscious habit sometimes. Add a little extra challenge – and keep your hands off – by carrying a small dumbbell in each hand as you lunge. Start out with an easy weight, then work up as you improve.