Perfect Form Lunges – “The Paper Plate Technique”
Lunges. We hate them. We love them. We do them wrong the vast majority of the time.
To really nail that lunge, there are three things you’ll have to check-off the “lunge perfection” list. If you can do all three actions when in the down phase of the lunge (not while you’re standing with legs straight- that’s cheating!), I’d bet my bottom dollar that your form is simply fantastic.
- You can lift up your toes.
- All of your weight should be in the heel of your front foot, not your toes or back foot. You get the most out of the exercise because it really targets your hamstring (back of the leg) and glute (the booty) muscles. If you’re going to do the exercise, make sure you are truly working those muscles! So, if all the weight is in the front heel, you should be able to lift your front toes. Test it. If you can’t, push your hips towards the back of the room, causing more weight to be transferred into the heel. This takes some practice to really get a feel for it, but you WILL be able to do it.
- You can see the tip of your shoe.
- When doing a lunge, the knee should not extend beyond your front foot. Too much weight is being pushed forwards instead of transferred evenly and then targeted in the front heel. Ideally, if you have a mirror, look and make sure the knee is over the ankle. This protects your joint by alleviating pressure. Your knee shouldn’t be doing all of the work. That’s what causes injuries. Now, there is a lot of debate about whether you should be able to see your shoelaces or the tip of your shoe. I personally have found that if I can see my shoelaces, I’m leaning my torso forward too far, which puts pressure on my back. But, for those people who are very tall or have a long torso, looking for those shoelaces could be the way to go. My best advice is to do what feels comfortable for you and look at the side view of your lunge in the mirror to make sure the knee isn’t our over your toes.
- You can see both feet in the mirror.
- Don’t want one foot directly behind the other. You want a stable base so that you can lift your toes and see your shoelaces. Without a stable base, these can be compromised because you are putting too much weight into the front foot to try and balance/prevent from tipping. I tell people to pretend they are standing on railroad tracks with one foot on each side of the track.
Special secret tip: The Paper Plate Technique
Watch my video below where I explain each of the three key components of a perfect lunge and how to effectively use the paper plate technique!
A great way to practice perfect lunges is by using a paper plate. I know it sounds odd; but let me explain. Take a paper plate and put 2 pieces of duct tape, gorilla tape, or athletic tape right in the middle to make a “+” sign. With one leg, step onto the plate with the ball of your foot. The heel should be off the plate. From a standing position, push the plate back. It’s just as if you were stepping back into a lunge, except you’re sliding instead of stepping. Feet are still on railroad tracks. Keep pushing the plate back until you can see the tip of your forward shoe (or shoelaces if you’re tall), but making sure you’re not leaning over and throwing weight into your back. All of your weight is in the forward HEEL. Keep your core tight! If you’ve pushed the plate far enough back, can see the tip of your shoe, and feel that all of your weight is in your forward heel, lift up your toes. Can you lift them off the floor without losing balance? If you can, then you know your weight is distributed correctly and that your knee is over your ankle at a 90 degree angle. Using the plate technique is so great for practicing form, but it also optimizes your workout by targeting those key muscle groups, the glutes and hamstrings. These muscles really work hard because the plate forces them to!
Click on the video to watch me demonstrate and teach all three key components of a perfect lunge and how to do the paper plate technique TODAY, right in your family room! Get to workin’ it!
Yours in health & resiliency,