The forward lunge is excellent for building strong thighs and hamstrings—just ask the track and field community. Tracksters and their coaches love this move during training.
Forward lunges can strengthen leg muscles and prevent injuries without any special equipment or weights. One study found that the forward lunge activated three major muscle groups in the legs to some degree during the lunge cycle: the front of the thighs, the hamstrings, and the calves.
And if you’re a total cardio person, don’t forget how essential strength-training is to running. Even if your goal is endurance or losing weight, cross-training with strength exercises can prevent injuries (and help you run longer and faster).
There are several varieties of the lunge, with varying degrees of movement. Stationary lunges make a great stretch, while walking lunges and jumping lunges add more action. This forward lunge is somewhere in the middle: there’s a lot of movement, but you stay in one place, so it’s perfect for crossfit workouts. (We have proof: practice your proper forward lunges in this 6-minute interval workout that tones the lower body!)
How to Do Forward Lunges
From an upright position, take a big step forward. Keep your back as straight as possible and make your legs do the work. Push back up into an upright position, and repeat with the opposite leg.
Your forward knee should not extend past your toes, making a 90-degree angle with your leg. Your back knee should not touch the floor. Following both these rules will help prevent injury.
With your arms, try clasping your hands at your chest as you move up and down. This helps with balance, but it also keeps you from pressing on your knee as a way to push yourself back into upright position. (It’s tempting, we know.)
Alternatively, you can hold onto dumbbells while you do a forward lunge. If you use weights, you can simply hold them with your arms hanging at your sides.