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Lunge Progression

Let’s just begin by stating that the lunge is a beast mode movement! Just because it’s a movement that doesn’t require ample amounts of load via bilateral mechanics, it still needs some praise.

Unilateral (single leg work) strength is a necessary effort in a variety of tasks such as daily living, walking, balance, and of course, training. Many fitness professionals and researchers recognize the need to program unilateral movements into training regimens due to the applicability to sports and daily activities (Muyor, Martín-Fuentes, Rodríguez-Ridao, & Antequera-Vique, 2020). The use of unilateral work has been utilized even in the rehabilitation environment for many years. The use of a lunge can be critical in the use of healing and returning strength to the legs with the minimal strain (Escamilla, Macleod, Wilk, Paulos, & Andrews, 2012). Escamilla et al. (2012) provide data from a variety of lower-body movements and the forward lunge only had an average of 1.8 to 2.0% strain at the ACL with knee angles of 30, 50, and 70 degrees. Therefore, the programming a lunge can be useful not only for sports, daily tasks, but the rehabilitation settings for physical therapy and athletic training environments.

Like with many movements, the use of dynamic strength is critical. Athletes all around need to have the ability to produce both isometric and ballistic contractions of the muscle to optimize performance transformation (Bishop, Read, Lake, Loturco, & Turner, 2018). These muscular demands will help develop the athlete's skill for acceleration, top speed, change of direction, and jumping, all with the consideration to generate peak forces in appropriate ratios (Bishop et al., 2018). Although the effects applied in a bilateral fashion (2 limbs) are essential for athletic success and training integrity (Bishop et al., 2018), the unilateral movement is multiple joint demands that become pivotal under these actions.

In the perception of functional movements, it essential to understand how the body functions in different environments (Henkin, Bento, & Liebenson, 2018). The context of daily living is known to produce movements in unknown environments, everything in life isn’t seen through known experiences. Simply put, life throws us curve balls from time to time and it is important to be prepared for the demands. Be prepared for the unknown environments that may require the use of superior unilateral strength to react appropriately. Functional movements such as unilateral movements, don’t need to be considered a movement of a bore but rather a way to improve the efficacy of multidirectional sport skills plus with the benefit of enhancing the quality of resistance training (Aguilera-Castells et al., 2019).

When performing unilateral movements, they require skills of locomotor, manipulative, and demanding stability actions while managing the control of the kinetic chain (Aguilera-Castells et al., 2019). The kinetic chain needs to be managed appropriately to prevent unwanted rotations or undesired spinal flexions for superior movement quality. In training, don’t neglect other functional movement patterns but think about rather supplementing other movement patterns to help improve bigger lifts. If you program unilateral work such as the lunge into your training routine, it will significantly enhance the force production for bigger lifts in a bilateral fashion.

Check out the lunge movements that can be programmed to enhance performance!

Reverse Lunge

BW Alt Reverse Lunge

Reverse Lunge to Straight Leg Kick

Alt Reverse Lunge to Straight Leg Kicks

DB Hang Reverse Lunge

DB Front Rack Alt Reverse Lunge

DB Reverse Lunge w/ OHC - 1 Arm, Ipsilateral

DB Reverse Lunge w/ OHC - 1 Arm, Contralateral

DB Reverse Lunge w/ OHC

Forward Lunge

DB Front Rack Alt Forward Lunge

DB Forward Lunge w/ OHC - 1 Arm, Contralateral

DB Forward Lunge w/ OHC

Walking Lunge

DB Hang Walking Lunge

DB Walking Lunge w/ OHC - 1 Arm

Lateral Lunge

BW Lateral Lunge

BW Alt Lateral Lunge

DB Hang Lateral Lunge

DB Hang Alt Lateral Lunge

Alt Lateral Lunge w/ KB Drop

Slider Lateral Lunge w/ MB Squeeze

LM Isometric Lateral Lunge w/ Contralateral Hold - Perpendicular to BB

LM Lateral Lunge w/ Contralateral Hold - Perpendicular to BB


  • Aguilera-Castells, J., Buscà, B., Morales, J., Solana-Tramunt, M., Fort-Vanmeerhaeghe, A., Rey-Abella, F., . . . Peña, J. (2019). Muscle activity of Bulgarian squat. Effects of additional vibration, suspension and unstable surface. PloS one, 14(8).

  • Bishop, C., Read, P., Lake, J., Loturco, I., & Turner, A. (2018). A Novel Approach for Athlete Profiling: The Unilateral Dynamic Strength Index. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, Publish Ahead of Print.

  • Escamilla, R. F., Macleod, T. D., Wilk, K. E., Paulos, L., & Andrews, J. R. (2012). ACL Strain and Tensile Forces for Weight Bearing and Non—Weight-Bearing Exercises After ACL Reconstruction: A Guide to Exercise Selection. Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy, 42(3), 208-220.

  • Henkin, J., Bento, J., & Liebenson, C. (2018). The Kettlebell Lunge Clean exercise. J Bodyw Mov Ther, 22(4), 980-982.

  • Muyor, J. M., Martín-Fuentes, I., Rodríguez-Ridao, D., & Antequera-Vique, J. A. (2020). Electromyographic activity in the gluteus medius, gluteus maximus, biceps femoris, vastus lateralis, vastus medialis and rectus femoris during the Monopodal Squat, Forward Lunge and Lateral Step-Up exercises. PloS one, 15(4).



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