As a fitness professional and coach, people always ask about my favorite exercises. One of them is the lunge. This unilateral exercise is amazing for your lower body. Read on to learn what muscles do front lunges work, the benefits of front lunges, common mistakes, how to do front lunges, and watch the front lunge video.
What Muscles Do Front Lunges Work?
- Quadriceps or Quads: This large muscle group is located on the front of the thigh, the front & sides of the femur. It’s composed of four muscles (rectus femoris, vastus lateralis, vastus medialis, and vastus intermedius). The origin of the name, quad, means four – hence quadricep (four-headed muscle). The quadriceps are knee extensors and hip flexors – essential for walking, running, jumping, and squatting. They, also, help to stabilize the patella and knee joint.
- Gluteal Muscles (buttocks): These muscles are involved in the extension, abduction, and rotation of the hip joint. They also help keep the body erect and assist human locomotion (running, jumping, sprinting, etc).
- Hamstrings: Located on the posterior thigh in between the hip and the knee, and are composed of three muscle groups (semitendinosus, semimembranosus, and biceps femoris – long and short heads). These muscles are antagonists to the quadriceps and are involved in hip and knee movements. They participate in the deceleration of knee extension and help flex the knee and extend the hips. They are essential for daily movement (walking), speed (running), and deceleration (stopping movement).
- Adductor Muscles: These are a group of five muscles located in the medial compartment of the thigh (adductor longus, adductor brevis, adductor magnus, gracilis, and pectineus). They extend from the anteroinferior external surface of the bony pelvis to the shaft of the femur and proximal tibia. The adductor muscles’ function is to produce adduction of the thigh at the hip joint, in which the thigh is pulled toward or past the median plane. Additionally, they contribute to the flexion of the extended thigh, as well as the extension of the flexed thigh. Furthermore, adductors contribute to the stabilization and balance of the pelvis and body posture while standing, walking, or running.
- Core Muscles: The erector spinae (set of muscles that run vertically along the side of the vertebral column, originating at the hip and extending up to the skull. They help rotate and extend the spine and neck) and abs (muscles in the abdominal wall: rectus abdominis, obliques, transverse abdominal) make up the core muscles.
Benefits of Front Lunges
- Burn More Calories: Since the lunge is a multi-joint compound movement, working multiple muscles simultaneously, helps you burn more calories and more fat.
- Strength, Endurance, & Hypertrophy: You can target multiple goals with front lunges. By altering your sets, reps, rest times, and loading parameters, you can induce diverse physiological changes. If you want to increase your strength, do 3-6 sets of 4-6 reps with moderate to heavyweight. If you want to work on your endurance, do 3-5 sets of 12-20 reps with low to moderate weight. Lastly, if you want to induce muscle growth, do 3-5 sets of 8-12 reps with moderate weight.
- Flexibility: Front lunges involved a movement with a long range of motion. This helps you stretch your hip flexors, keeping you flexible.
- Stability: They work one leg at a time, allowing you to work on your stability and balance and actively engage core muscles.
- Correct Imbalances: Due to the fact that front lunges involve a unilateral movement, they help you to correct imbalances and weaknesses in your lower body. These can be created due to limitations or compensations being made by one side of the body.
- Better Performance: As mentioned, front lunges can help you address weak points throughout your range of motion. This improves your biomechanics improving your performance in other exercises, such as the squat and the deadlift.
- Functionality: Font lunges involve movements that are similar to those found in daily activities, making them highly functional.
- Assessment Tool: A lunge is a valuable tool. By observing the positioning of the hips and knees, a fitness professional can assess and help you address imbalances and weaknesses.
- Versatility: You can do front lunges anywhere and with diverse tools. You can start by using your own body weight, use dumbbells, a barbell, a medicine ball, and even resistance bands.
How to Do Front Lunges
- Stand tall with your back straight, shoulders back, core tight, and feet hip-distance apart
- Plant your foot firmly to the ground, pick a target in front of you (roughly 18 to 24in), and step forward
- Your front knee tracks forward — aiming between the first and second toe — while your back knee drops straight down to the ground
- Drive through the floor with the front foot and return to starting position
- Once you’re back in the starting position, you can finish all your reps with one leg and continue with the other or alternate legs
Front Lunges Mistakes to Avoid
- Avoid using your back leg to lift your weight. The front leg is the primary mover and the one that is supposed to carry the load. You shouldn’t push off with your back foot during the concentric part of the exercise (when you are coming back up).
- Avoid speeding through the movement. Take your time during the eccentric part of the exercise (when you are heading forward and down). Do the exercise in a controlled manner, engaging your legs, glutes, and core musculature.
- Avoid rushing into the exercise without preparing. Establish your stride length without weight first – the place where you are going to step forward. This allows you to safely proceed without injuring yourself. If you step too close while carrying the weight, you can lose your balance. If you step too far forward, you can have a hard time getting back up effectively due to not having the strength or flexibility to do so.
- Avoid allowing your forward knee to move too far over the toes. This puts too much stress on your knee. Even though you are stepping forward, your focus should be on taking your body down as you lunge. Try to keep the front knee in line with your second toe throughout the lunge. At the bottom part of the lunge, both knees should be in a 90-degree angle.
- Avoid externally rotating your back knee. Since this exercise challenges your balance, sometimes people naturally rotate the back knee outwards in order to stabilize themselves.
- Avoid internally rotating your back knee. This destabilizes you and can lead to pain and injury. Make sure your knee is aligned with your toes and is pointed to the floor at the bottom part of the exercise.
- Avoid slamming your knees onto the ground: As you move forward and down, your front knee can touch the floor (if you are flexible enough to do so). Yet, you must do so lightly. Otherwise, you can hurt yourself. Slamming onto the ground can be because you lack unilateral strength, stability, and control over your movements.
- Avoid having your feet too close together or too far apart: Keeping your feet too close together can throw you off balance; plus, it puts the force on the knees rather where it should be – on the glutes, hamstrings, and quads, which is where it should be. Keeping your feet too far apart can overemphasize the abductors and lateral area of your quads on the front leg instead of your adductors and glutes; it also compromises flexibility in the back leg.
- Avoid shooting the hips backward as you come up. Your hip should be aligned with your torso with a slightly forward lean and your front leg should initiate the concentric part of the movement – standing back up – not your back leg or hips. Try maintaining an upright position and shortening your stride a few inches.
- Avoid leaning back. This can overstress the lower back and deemphasize the front leg. Try to slow down and tighten your abs.
Front Lunge Video
Now that you know all the benefits and mistakes associated with front lunges, how to do front lunges, and you watched the video on how to perform front lunges, you can complete your lower body workout. You can perform other exercises Romanian Deadlifts, Side Lunges, Reverse Glute Raises, and Goblet Squats.
Lift, Burn more Fat, Get Stronger and Live Healthier!
To a Fitter Healthier You,
The Fitness Wellness Mentor