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!
You need to gain if you want to lose…. Talk about an oxymoron! When someone asks me, “What is the most effective way to lose weight and get into shape?” My answer is not what you might be thinking. It’s not by doing three hours of intense cardio everyday, but by lifting weights and strength training. That lovely yellow mass in the picture above is fat. It’s 5 pounds of fat, to be exact, and is about the same size as 2 footballs! Think about this, if a person is 50 pounds overweight, multiply that fat mass by 10. 20 footballs! In the battle of muscle vs. fat, it’s the density, not the weight that matters. 5 pounds is 5 pounds. BUT, because muscle is so much more dense, about 18% more, than fat, it takes up less space in your body. The more muscle, the smaller/leaner the person! I’m not talking about lifting light weights, but weights that will challenge your muscles. That is how you BUILD muscle. So, despite hesitation and hype and rumors, if you can lift heavier weight, go for it! You’ll be stronger, less prone to injury, and have a leaner body by dropping inches!
A woman who weighs 160 pounds and has 35% body fat will be larger (in inches measured) than a person who weighs exactly the same, but only has 20% body fat. How crazy amazing is that? So, those two women may wear different sized clothing, yet weigh the same! This is why STRENGTH training is so incredibly important. I can’t say it enough. The more muscle, the leaner you become (with proper nutrition and exercise). This is exactly why lifting weights will NOT make you bulkier or bigger. In fact, it will not only cut inches, it will help your body burn more fat. Muscles use/need more energy and burn more calories, even when you’re not working out. Talk about boosting your metabolism! That is something a 3-digit number on the scale won’t tell you. Throw the scale away and go lift some weights. 😉
Fun fact: Muscle is about 18-20% denser than fat tissue. Looking at the picture below, you can see that even though they may weigh the same, muscle is much more compact than fat. So, it makes sense that more muscle = a leaner body, despite what the scale may say. A pound of muscle takes up less space in your body than one pound of fat. To help you visualize what I mean, check out the pictures on this site posted below. Remember, muscle also burns fat! Your metabolic microwave kicks into overdrive when you have more muscle because it burns more calories naturally. It all comes full circle. So this year, jump on board! Happy New Year everyone!!
I hope everyone enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving with family and friends! Today is a new day! Let’s start it off right! Here’s a great circuit training workout with a kick (or should I say HIIT?)! Circuit training is the best because you can work every muscle group in one session. It creates muscle confusion so you never use one muscle over and over again like a traditional “back and biceps” or “shoulders and triceps” strength workout. It also creates more muscle endurance! Props to circuit training! Game on!
For this workout, you’ll do 12-14 reps, 3 sets for each exercise. All of your muscles are going to be working! In between, do the HIIT section for a minute to rev up that heart rate.
Sumo squat with an overhead press (inner thigh, glutes, shoulders, biceps, triceps, core)
Legs shoulder width apart. Toes facing the corners. Make sure feet don’t go over your toes and your arms don’t drop below 90 degrees with the overhead press.
Dead lift with hammer curls (biceps, shoulders, core, glutes, hamstrings)
Legs just slightly bent, hip width. Palms face inwards. Dead lift then curl up. ** The difference between a traditional biceps curl and a hammer curl is your hand/wrist position. For a traditional curl, your palms face forward as well as the vein-side of your forearm. On a hammer curl, your palms face inward and pinky side of your wrists face front.
Triceps kickback (right and left sides) (triceps, core)
Keep back and arm parallel to the floor to avoid any back strain and to really target the triceps.
HIIT: run up and down the stairs as many times as you can in one minute. If you don’t have stairs, put a towel on the floor and jump over it side to side as if it were a jump rope for a minute.
Back leg lifts with biceps curl (right and left leg) (glues, biceps, hamstrings)
Squeeze your glute at the top of the back lift at the same time you hit the top of your curl. Your legs and arms make the same motion.
Curtsy lunges with an overhead press. (glutes, outer hip, shoulders, core)
Start right leg front, cross left foot behind diagonally (like the position you’d be in if you had just thrown a bowling ball down the alley). All of your weight is on your front leg.
Push your butt towards the back corner of the room to target the glutes and outer thighs
As you rise up, to an overhead press with the right arm.
Repeat on left side. http://www.shape.com/fitness/workouts/top-10-moves-tighter-tush/slide/5 **it looks like this picture in the link, but there are two slight differences from my exercise. 1. Stay in the lunge position with one foot back for the whole exercise. Don’t step up after each lunge. 2. Stick your butt out towards the back corner of the room. Since you have the weight in the same hand as the direction your butt is moving back, it acts as a counterbalance. It also adds weight resistance for more muscle activation.
X push-ups ( back and biceps, shoulders, core)
Standard push up, but your back legs are shoulder width apart (your body is in an X shape!). Keep core tight, body should be parallel to the floor.
HIIT: Mountain climbers or wall runs (doing mountain climbers against the wall instead of the floor)
HIIT: pick a spot high on the wall. Go into a low squat and jump up to touch that spot on the wall. Jump as high as you can, fully extended. Repeat 10 times. Then do 10 burpees. Repeat these two exercises for a minute.
Triceps dips (triceps, shoulders, core)
Fire hydrant leg pulses. (abductor muscles (outside of hip), glutes, legs)
Go onto hands and knees. Lift right leg, keeping it at a 90 degree angle, up until parallel to the floor. Pulse twice at the top. Return to start. Repeat on left side.
Start in plank position. Keep core tight, don’t let hips drop down or lift up. Body should be straight at all times.
Starting with the right leg, bend the leg and pull it towards the left arm. As you pull, twist the torso. Your knee should disappear below your arm. If it doesn’t, twist a little more. Remember to keep as straight in that plank position as possible, even as you twist. Don’t let your butt go up in the air! Go straight into the left side. Alternate sides 20 times.
Hope you had an amazing workout! You worked it ALL! 🙂 Awesome job!!