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Lunge a versatile exercise

Start simple and continue to challenge yourself

Lunges are easy to incorporate into your workout routines because there are many variations, from stationary to walking and jump lunges.

The great thing about lunges is that you do not need to be a gym buff to be able to do them. They can be used as a toning exercise for beginners; however, if you are an athlete there are also sport-specific variations designed to increase your speed and power.

When performing lunges, it is important to keep your head up and back straight. Leaning forward may cause you to lose your balance and will increase the stress on your back and knees. Step out with one leg forward, dropping the back leg toward the floor by bending your knee. It is key that your front knee does not go past the front toe. The position of the lunge is achieved when your front thigh is parallel to the floor. Using your buttocks and quadriceps to push yourself up, push back up with your front leg to the starting position, legs shoulder-width apart, with approximately two to three feet in between your front and back leg. Complete this several times on each leg staying within your comfort level.

All of the variations of the lunge spring from the basic positioning of the stationary lunge. The walking lunge involves walking forward, using the lunge as your stride. The jump lunge is a lunge you simply jump into. The jump lunge is also great for adding a bit of a cardio component to the basic lunge. For more variation, alternate lunges involve alternating between each leg -- one lunge on one leg, alternated with one lunge on the other. In contrast to the walking lunge, this one is done in place, alternating between each leg for the set.

The most challenging of the lunges is the foot up lunge, which requires a little more technique than stationary and walking lunges. For the foot up lunge, elevate your back foot back on a step, and lunge on your front leg. This increases the balance requirement for the lunge, and forces the front leg to bear almost all of your body weight.

Aside from the numerous variations the lunge offers, another advantage of lunges is you do not need to use as heavy weights should you decide to integrate weights into your lunges for a greater challenge. The reduced weight also makes lunges an easier exercise on your body, specifically your back. However, if you have any back issues, it is imperative to keep good form. Watching yourself do these exercises in front of a mirror is a great way to catch yourself using poor form.

Lunges are a really versatile exercise, and subsequently leave a lot of room for you to progress. Starting off with simple lunges and progressing to more challenging lunges, such as the foot up lunge, is optimal for progressing to a higher level. Also adding a medicine ball, rubber exercise band, dumbbells or barbells can really kick up the lunge to the next level.

Shaun Karp is a certified personal trainer. For further information call 604-420-7800 or go to

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