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!
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
DB Front Rack Alt Forward Lunge
DB Forward Lunge w/ OHC - 1 Arm, Contralateral
DB Forward Lunge w/ OHC
DB Hang Walking Lunge
DB Walking Lunge w/ OHC - 1 Arm
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).