People have always assumed that it is Squats that have helped me developed my full lean glutes. Absolutely not, I do very little squatting! It is a large variety of different lunges that I find to be the dominating exercise in a good glute training routine and a full understanding of how to utilize the powerful function of the gluteus maximus is imperitive.
Bad form in lunges. This is one of my pet hates. I cringe and turn away when I see a personal trainer allowing their client to lunge with a) too shorter a stance b) allowing the front leg to take all the work load, the front knee jutting forward of the front toe, front heel lifting off the floor c) chest dropping forward d) core unstable e) lack of hip and knee stability.
In order to understand how to fully recruit your glutes using the lunge, there are a few fundamentals we need to understand first.
In a standard stationary lunge, the load of the individuals’ body weight should be evenly distributed between both the front and the back leg. The stance needs to be long enough so that right angles can be reached at both knees at the bottom of the range of motion (ROM). In this position the quadriceps in the back leg are stabilizing the lowering (eccentric) action, and the glutes of the front leg are providing the power of the lifting (concentric) phase. The ROM needs to be deep enough so that the back knee can touch the floor at the end of the lowering phase, that way the glutes on the front leg are forced to provide a powerful concentric contraction to push the body back up until the knees are extended again.
The ROM can very often be limited by tightness in the lower back, hip flexors and quads and this is why we so often see individuals dominating and lunging into their front leg as there is not enough flexibility in these areas in order for the back knee to reach the floor with the knee at a right angle. Therefore then the glutes on the front leg are not being targeted enough within the action. To add to this puzzle, tight hips often mean tight shoulders and weak upper back (thoracic), hence why in these individuals we see the chest drop forward and the core become unstable without the assistance of the muscles upper back. The entire muscular chain is tight and as a result becomes weak.
How do we overcome this tightness and weakness so that we can train our glutes and legs properly in a lunge? You don’t want me to say it but Im gonna say it: STRETCH your quads, hip flexors, glutes and chest. At this point you’re probably going to close the page and say “stuff that!” and biff the idea into the ‘too hard basket’ but if you have the discipline to read on I will tell you that stretching is not as complicated and overrated as you may think and if combined with strengthening can rectify a number of imbalances, injuries and weaknesses and develop muscles throughout their entire function and create a well balanced, aesthetically pleasing physique.
In this series of blog posts, I’m going to:
- Teach you how to eliminate those tight areas that are restricting your lunge.
- Teach you my top tips for setting your stance and beginning the effective action of your stationary lunge in order to use your glutes as the powerhouse that they are to develop that lifted, tight, round appearance of a well trained gluteus maximus, and;
- Show you some of my favourite varieties of lunges and lunge combinations so you will never be bored of lunging and will always have a taut, strong and very good looking behind!
This program is a 5 week program and each week the boxes can be printed and filled in with the weights that have been achieved. The column on the right gives technique information.
Some of the lunges I will be blogging about are in this program, it is a thorough program for Glutes and Hamstrings for someone (probably a woman) wanting to tighten up their hamstrings and glutes. It is not particularly advanced and fairly general but some knowledge and base strength is necessary.