How to Lunge Without Crushing Your Knees

Lunges are one of my all-time favorite leg exercises.

Once I got through over the “my legs are already big enough phase” and started training seriously, squats, deadlifts and lunge variations were always staples in my training routines.

Now for some reason, many people assume that just because lunges are a common exercise that they’re somehow “easy” to perform.

But not so fast my friend!

Lunges (and especially forward lunges) are a great exercise, but they definitely aren’t for beginners. When done incorrectly they can put a ton of stress on the hips, lower back, and especially the knees.

If you have clients or athletes who struggle to lunge correctly, here’s how I coach and cue this exercise, as well as some technique issues you need to watch out for.

Now that you’ve watched the video, here are some bullet points to help drive home the big points:

  • Forward lunges are a challenging exercise because your client or athletes is forced to land, stabilize, decelerate, and then power up and back to the starting position. It may look simple, but this is a lot to unpack for many clients and athletes.
  • If a standard forward lunge is too difficult, have your client/athlete start with either a reverse lunge, a split-squat, or even in half-kneeling initially.
  • When they step forward, make sure they can feel the whole foot upon landing, and especially the heel. Many will have a tendency to drift forward onto the toes, which puts undue stress on the knees.
  • When they step back out of the lunge, make sure to keep the core in the appropriate position. Many will have a tendency to anteriorly tilt and extend the back to help power them out of the bottom.
  • Last but not least, make sure they maintain good foot-knee-hip alignment throughout. This is critical both when loading the front leg, and when propelling back to the top position.

Lunges are an all-round amazing exercise for building stability, control, and strength, but make sure you’re coaching them up if you want to get the most out of them.

I sincerely hope this video helps you with your clients and athletes. Have a great day!

All the best,
MR

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2 Comments

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  1. Good technique cues, Mike.
    What suggestions do you have for clients who always twist their hips towards the front knee when doing lunges ,or split squat?
    Appreciate you training videos!

    • Stacia – Great question! It really depends on the side, as the reason this happens could be different between the right and left sides.

      One easy solution is to stand behind them and place your hands on their hips to square them up. Then as they lower down, hold them in the appropriate position so they can feel what a neutral alignment feels like.

      Give this a shot and let me know if it helps!

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