Lunges, like the name implies, involve lunging forward on one foot as if you're taking one large step. These muscle-strengthening exercises can be switched up by incorporating weights, changing the size of your stride or increasing your speed and number of reps. No single exercise can provide you with all of the physical fitness benefits you need for a healthy body and a toned appearance, but lunges do offer several benefits that can help you meet your fitness goals.
Lunges target many muscles in your abs, butt, thighs and hips. If you incorporate weights, you can help strengthen your arms, shoulders and chest. Because lunges use your body weight as the primary form of resistance, they're especially good for exercise novices who are not yet ready to begin weightlifting and other challenging forms of strength training.
As you lunge forward, you must hold your position and then return to your starting position, making your muscles work together to coordinate movements. Lunges can help improve overall muscle coordination and help prevent the muscular imbalances that sometimes occur when people focus on training only one muscle or muscle group.
Lunges don't just strengthen your muscles. They also help stretch them. Because lunges require several groups of muscles to work together, they can help increase your overall flexibility and range of motion rather than just increasing flexibility in one targeted area.
The lunge builds upon movements you probably make every day -- taking steps, leaning forward and bending. As you practice lunging, your body gains better balance.This can help improve your balance in normal activities which, in turn, can help you avoid injuries and even improve your posture.
- American Council on Exercise: Forward Lunge
- National Athletic Trainers' Association: Biomechanics of the Squat, Lunge, Kick and Pivot
- Harvard Health Publications: Strengthening Your Core
- The Women's Health Big Book of Exercises; Adam Campbell
Van Thompson is an attorney and writer. A former martial arts instructor, he holds bachelor's degrees in music and computer science from Westchester University, and a juris doctor from Georgia State University. He is the recipient of numerous writing awards, including a 2009 CALI Legal Writing Award.