Few exercises tone the butt better than good old-fashioned lunges. In a 2012 survey, a group of more than 36,000 American Council on Exercise-certified fitness pros dubbed squats and lunges the most effective exercises for toning and defining the all-important glutes. Although both crescent lunges – which you may know as “high lunges” – and low lunges find their roots in yoga, you can practice them as traditional body-weight exercises. Both effectively shape the lower body, but they differ a little in execution and benefits.
Crescent Lunge: How To
To perform a crescent lunge, begin in Downward-Facing Dog – a pose your yoga teacher might call the Adho Mukha Svanasana – an all-fours position with your palms flat on the ground in front of your head, feet supported on your toes and butt in the air with a 90-degree bend at the waist. Step forward to place your right foot between your hands as you lower your hips into a lunging position, with your right leg bent 90 degrees at the knee and your weight on the rear foot, extended behind you and balanced on the ball of the foot. Inhale as you straighten your back and, with a sweeping motion, raise your arms overhead with your palms together. Reach your left leg as far back as you can and press your tailbone and shoulder blades toward the ground, feeling the extension of your spine as exhale. Hold the pose for 30 to 60 seconds, breathing regularly. Return to the starting position and repeat on the other side of the body.
Crescent Lunge: Benefits
The high lunge focuses on shaping the glutes, thighs and abs, but it also activates the ankles and gives the chest a good stretch. According to “Shape Magazine,” in addition to strengthening the legs and stretching the hips, the crescent lunge increases your heart rate, which in turn quickens your metabolism – a good way to burn calories at rest. Although this is true of all cardiovascular exercise, the fat-burning potential here outclasses that of the less-intense low lunge.
Low Lunge: How To
Like the crescent lunge, the low lunge begins in the tried-and-true Downward-Facing Dog pose. Just as in the high lunge, you begin by stepping forward with your right foot, entering a lunging position so your heel rests under your knee with your foot flat on the ground. The position of your rear, or left, leg separates this pose from the crescent lunge – simply lower your left knee to the ground with your calf extending straight behind you on the floor and your toes pointed out. Smoothly sweep your arms up and raise your torso so your back is straight, pulling your tailbone and shoulders toward the ground, just as you would during a high lunge. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds and repeat on the other side.
Low Lunge: Benefits
Compared to the crescent lunge, the low lunge offers an easier option for entry-level exercisers. Consider the low lunge the exercise to learn before moving on to the crescent lunge. While the low lunge does not activate the ankles, it still works the glutes, thighs and abs and stretches out the chest, just like the crescent lunge.
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