If anyone is familiar with my programming or my workouts, you all know I absolutely LOVE walking lunges! Although there is a method to the madness behind all those deep steps and kisses between the ground and your knee, let me give credit to the man who first exposed me to this effective training method. Cory Gregory. I have been following Cory’s programming for my own training for over a year now and since the beginning I have been lunging around the track or down the block in my neighborhood. Cory is formerly one of the founders of the supplement company MusclePharm and now is the co-founder of Activ8 Media, co-host of the Business & Biceps podcast on iTunes and Soundcloud, and the founder of Max Effort Muscle Supplements. He also hosts his own website with all his own programming, articles and videos at corygfitness.com.
Back to the lunges. I have been lunging 400-800m, 4-5 times a week for just about a year now. Lunges have not only helped build up the definition and conditioning in my legs, but also help keep my lower back, knees, and hip joints healthy.
Whats Beneficial About Lunges?
Builds connective tissue strength in the knees and hips.
Walking lunges is a great exercise to keep your knees, hips and lower back healthy. Many people who complain about having lower back pain, more likely than not have a weak posterior chain (your erectors, hips, glutes, and hamstrings). When your posterior chain is weak, your abdominals and the muscle in the front of your trunk need to take over to stabilize your torso. Because they are not as big and powerful as your posterior chain, they tend to get fatigued fairly quickly. When they get fatigued, there are no strong muscles to stabilize your spine, and as a result your spine will fall into a bad position. Bad spinal position more likely than not can cause pain in the lower back.
Lunges are not the end all be all of exercises to build up your posterior chain, but they definitely help build up the glutes and muscles around the hip. Do you ever see those ads for videos on YouTube with titles like “Get a Big Butt Fast Workout”? I can guarantee you some sort of lunge variation is in there. Strengthening the muscles around the hip helps with stability, and will help take the work away from the abdominals.
As far as your knees go, lunging helps build up the musculature in the quads. When the muscles around the knee are strong, the knee can stay in its optimal position. Strong quads, mean strong knees, strong quads and knees mean you can squat with ease with out pain. Squatting with ease and no pain equals strong legs and a strong base, more pain free training sessions more often. The compound effect of lunging consistently helps build durability in your knee joints, and after a hard workout, help get blood flow to the area and promote recovery.
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson getting his lunges in. Here’s proof that big guys can benefit from these lunges too.
Conditioning in the legs.
All the reps that you put in doing these lunges greatly helps condition your legs. Your legs will grow and be able to handle more work with the extra conditioning. It will provide more stamina in your lower body for more reps and more sets, as well as bring out some more definition in your quads (given your diet is on point). Also, its a great form of cardio. When I was prepping for my first men’s physique show, I didn’t do any form of traditional cardio like running, the stair stepper, etc. It was ALL lunges for 25-30 minutes. This doesn’t work for everyone when prepping for a show or a photo shoot, but it worked like a charm for me.
How much and how often?
A good prescription for walking lunges in this fashion would be as such:
Beginners– If you are new to training, a great starting point would be to set a timer for 10-15 minutes and start lunging. You could do this as a finisher to your leg workout, or on a rest day. As you get better, try to get up to 200-400m of lunges with in the 15 minute time cap.
Intermediate– For intermediate lifters, you can do 400m of lunges 4-5 times a week after your work out, or on your cardio day. Try to get 400m down in around 10 minutes. Once you can consistently get 400m down in 10 minutes or less, its time to change it up.
Advanced– If you’re someone who has been lunging for a while, you have 400m down in 10 minutes and you can crush it after your workout 4-5 times a week, here are some challenges for you.
- 800m in 30 minutes or less
- 400m with a weight vest
- 400 with a weight vest, then 400 bodyweight
The variations are endless. Challenge your self in all areas. Time duration, speed, weight or nonweighted, etc. 4-5 times a week for 400-800m is my minimum dose for my self with a few changes here and there to keep it spicy. Lunges can help you build a strong posterior chain, condition your legs, protect your knees, and its a nice alternative to 45 minutes or more on a treadmill.
Now go out to the track, and lunge.