In my opinion, the lunge is one of the most misunderstood movement patterns in terms of programming regression based exercises that will help a client or athlete develop the necessary strength to complete the movement. As a result, we often see lunges performed in a painfully awkward manner that is not only bad for the person performing it, but also bad for the reputation of the trainer responsible. However, once you break down the lunge and understand the needed components to perform them with good form, it is pretty easy to master this last movement pattern in our supplemental and accessory exercise series.
Key Components of The Lunge
To start, there are two main components to performing a lunge, and much like any of the other movement patterns you must be able to have complete control and strength throughout the entire range of motion. So, in my opinion, the first component is to improve your general leg strength and mobility outside of the range of motion before you move into the two exercises I recommend. Also, it is imperative to improve core strength (think stabilization and not doing 1,000 crunches). Exercises such as farmer’s walks, planks, suitcase carries etc. are great for developing core strength, which will support your extremities while they are in motion.
Two Best Exercises To Perfect The Lunge
Now as I have mentioned in previous articles, focusing on eccentrics and isometrics are imperative to building strength in a particular range of motion. I will not beat a dead horse here, so check out my last article on the pulling movement pattern to get a breakdown on how to utilize isometrics and eccentrics. With that being said, the rear leg elevated squat (also known as the Bulgarian split squat) and a split squat are the best regression exercises to build the lunge because they eliminate the extra movement and simply focus on the concentric and eccentric portions of the lunge. Think of it this way. These movements remove the step involved in a lunge and as a result are a great regression to the movement itself. Once control is gained with these two exercises you can begin to move towards the lunge.
This completes the supplemental exercise portion of our supplemental and accessory exercise series. Be on the lookout next week as we move towards accessory exercises to improve each of the fundamental movement patterns.
Gerry DeFilippo: ISSA CPT- CPPS, AAPS. Founder/Owner: Challenger Strength.