Taking a traditional exercise like the lunge and pushing it to the next level is a solid way to make your workout more functional. The continuous movement of the walking lunge makes this exercise more natural to perform and turns it into a full-body exercise that targets areas in both your upper and lower body. While the walking lunge places the most emphasis on your quads, nearly a dozen other muscles also activate during this move.
As you walk forward, bending your hip as you lower down into a lunge and then straighten your knee to rise back up, your quadriceps do the majority of the work. This is the large muscle lying on the front of your thighs. It has four heads, or starting points, and comes together to insert into your patella, or knee cap. It works when you straighten your knee and bend your hip.
Three different muscles assist your quadriceps to complete the walking lunge. Your adductor magnus, one of your hip adductors, and your gluteus maximus, the largest muscle in your butt, help you rise up out of the lunge. Down in your calves, your soleus works to flex your ankle when you lower into your lunge.
Half a dozen muscles throughout your body contract to stabilize joints while you do the walking lunge. To keep your spine rigid, your erector spinae, quadratus lumborum and obliques muscles engage. The two other muscles in your gluteus, your gluteus minimus and gluteus medius, work to stabilize your hip, and in your shin, your tibialis anterior contracts to stabilize your ankle.
A few muscles work double duty during the walking lunge by stabilizing not just one joint but two joints. Your hamstrings, which lie on the back of your thighs, begin at your pelvis, stretch down across your knee and insert into your tibia and fibula. This muscle works when you straighten your hip and bend your knee. Another dynamic stabilizer is your gastrocnemius, the larger muscle in your calf. This muscle stretches from your femur across your knee and ankle and attaches to your Achilles heel. It works when you flex both your knee and your ankle.
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