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Why the Forward Lunge Is Such an Important Strength Exercise

With all the insanely cool exercise ideas out there (ahem, this toilet paper workout, for example) it's easy to get excited about trying tricky moves. But that doesn't mean you should forget about standard moves; maintaining mastery over the basics is always important.

Take the forward lunge: "This is a great functional exercise because it puts the body in a motion that's similar to our day-to-day movements of walking and running," says trainer Rachel Mariotti, who is demonstrating the move above.

Forward Lunge Benefits and Variations

Whether you've always wanted to run a faster marathon, push a heavy sled, power hike up a mountain, or execute a perfect pistol squat (or the even more advanced shrimp squat), the forward lunge is going to help get you there. This classic move is a great way to build base strength in each leg. When you're doing two-legged moves (like squats), it's easy to compensate for weak muscles on one side. But when you're lunging, you're forced to acknowledge any imbalances you may have. "The forward lunge isolates and strengthens each leg individually and can be a good indicator of how strong each glute and hip is," says Mariotti.

Begin with bodyweight lunges, then progress by adding weight via dumbbells or a barbell. Want a cardio-strength challenge? Try walking lunges: Take eight to 12 lunge steps forward without stepping feet together between each lunge.

How to Do a Forward Lunge

A. Stand with feet together and hands clasped in front of chest or on hips. 
B. With core engaged, take a large step forward with the right foot, lowering into a lunge until both knees form 90-degree angles.
C. Push off the middle of the front to step right foot back next to left and return to starting position. 

Do 8 to 12 reps, then repeat on the other side. Perform 3 sets. 

Forward Lunge Form Tips

  • Make sure both knees are bent to 90 degrees in the bottom of the lunge position.
  • Keep chest tall with shoulders stacked over hips. Resist the urge to lean too far forward.
  • Don't allow the front knee to move too far forward past the toe, and avoid front heel coming off the ground.

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