Whether you are looking to slip into a pair of skinny jeans or sport a flirty miniskirt, lunges are one of the most effective exercises for shaping your legs and bottom. Lunges target the quadriceps, but involve additional muscles, including the glutes, hamstrings, calves and core muscles, making them an important exercise for toning the lower body. They are also back-friendly, because of the need to keep your back straight and your chest lifted, so you have little risk of back strain. Include must-do lunges in your regular workout routine to get lean, shapely legs and a firm bottom.
The Anywhere, Anyhow Exercise
Lunges are a perfect addition to your daily routine. They can be done virtually anywhere -- try knocking out a set in front of the TV or in the kitchen while you are waiting for dinner to cook. They also do not require any equipment to be effective. Lunges are body-weight exercises, meaning they make use of the body's own weight as resistance. If you tire of the same old thing and desire a bit more of a challenge, you can up the intensity of your lunges by adding weights, increasing the number of repetitions, widening your stance or using an inclined surface, such as a bench or chair.
Targeting Multiple Muscles
Lunges target most, if not all, of the muscles in your lower body. Don't be fooled into thinking that lunges only help your legs, they also require the development of your abdominal and lower back muscles to stabilize your core and provide balance. Changing the position of your lunge, for example alternating between front, side, back and deep lunges, can also change the muscles used and vary the effects. In addition to strengthening, lunges also improve flexibility in your hip flexors, which helps your body maintain alignment and reduces your risk of back pain and injury.
Balance And Coordination
Lunges are performed on one leg at a time, independent of the other leg. This is known as unilateral training. Unilateral training improves both balance and coordination rather than simply developing strength as with exercises that train both sides at the same time such as squats. Lunges also require the abdominal and back muscles to be tensed to aid in control of the movement and this helps develop your core muscles. Strong core muscles are vital for posture and balance.
Because lunges are executed using only one side of the body, they can help even out muscular imbalances in strength and control. Performing additional lunges on the weaker side can help these muscles to develop at a slightly faster rate, allowing them to catch up with your stronger side. This will aid in sports and physical activities, as well as lower the risk of injury because of imbalance.
An American writer living in the United Kingdom, Christy Mitchinson began writing professionally in 2000, during her career in laboratory science, pathology and research. She has authored training materials, standard operating procedures and patient/clinician information leaflets. Mitchinson is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in English literature and creative writing with The Open University.