The Walking Lunge is the exercise that can have the biggest impact on achieving your fitness goals. This doesn’t mean that you don’t incorporate other movements – you should so you have a well-balanced exercise – but if you are only going to one, then this is it.
This advice applies if you have a home gym with a power rack, barbells, dumbbells and other equipment (like I do), or if you hit the commercial gym on a regular basis, or even if you have no equipment at all and just use your bodyweight.
There are many GREAT exercises…squats, deadlifts, pushups and more. But, if you had only one exercise to choose from, this is the one.
A walking lunge is dramatically superior to the standing lunge where you step forward and push back. That movement can be tough on the knees and only involves a fraction of the muscles and other benefits of a walking lunge.
The same applies to the “reverse” lunge, where you step back and then bring your leg forward so you are in the standing position. The reverse version is easier on the knees but still lacks most of the benefits of the walking version.
How To Do The Walking Lunge
Stand tall holding dumbbells or kettlebells in each hand.
Step forward and lower your body so that the knee of your back leg touches, or comes very close to, the floor.
Keep your upper body tall – don’t lean forward.
The lower leg of your front leg should be vertical or close to it
I order to take the next walking lunge step, drive yourself up and forward in a powerful motion using the leg strength of your front leg.
Repeat this walking motion taking the same number of steps with each leg.
Ramp up the number of steps to work on your cardio; go heavier weights and fewer steps (6 to 10) to build strength and muscle.
Try and keep a fluid rhythm going. Try not to do it as separate, jerky, isolated movements.
why the walking lunge is A Superior exercise.
11 Reasons The Walking Lunge Is A Great Exercise
1. Low Training Requirement
Movements like the squat and deadlift, or the Olympic lifts, are fantastic and have greater potential for developing maximum strength and size. However, they require someone to get coaching, or coach themselves through videos etc., in order to be done properly. Even then, many get it wrong. Very wrong.
2. Minimal Equipment Is Needed
No racks, bars or plates are required. Just dumbbells or kettle bells. Or, if you want to do something DIY, you can use sandbags or anything you can carry that has some weight to it.
3. It Allows For Progressive Improvement
You can start with just bodyweight, then move up to holding progressively heavier weight in your hand. You can work up to very heavy weights that will test any strong man or woman. A more advanced variation is to do them with a barbell across your upper back.
4. Great For Lower Body Strength
It uses the entire musculature of the leg. The quadriceps, and related muscles, of the front of the leg start the movement off the floor. Your hamstrings and gluteal muscles will pull your forward into the next step. Your calf muscles work to help propel you forward
5. Increases Grip Strength
Your grip is what connects your hands to the rest of your body. There is no such thing as grip that is too strong. Holding the dumbbells or kettle bells in your hands will improve your hand and forearm strength.
6. More Upper Back Strength and Posture
Holding a weight in your hands and working to maintain an upright posture requires you to use the muscles of the upper back and shoulders. Don’t let your shoulders round forward, keep them back and tight.
7. Get Some Ab Work
Your abs (or “core” if you prefer) need to work during any movement that requires you to maintain upper body control. The walking lunge is a great way to get some indirect ab benefits.
8. Improves Hip Flexibility
The hip flexors, that connect the top of the leg on the front to the ab muscles, of the trailing leg are stretched as you walk and dip down to the floor. Many people suffer from tight hip flexors due to the amount of sitting we do. If you are sitting right now your hip flexors are in a shortened state.
9. Promotes Ankle Flexibility
The walking lunge motion promotes a full range of motion of the ankle. Ankle flexibility is not something that a lot of people think about, but it is a problem that many suffer with. They may not know it until they need to have it.
10. Develops Balance
When they first start, many people will struggle to have a smooth, fluid walking lunge form. They will feel unsteady on their feet. But, if you stick with it you will find that your balance and coordination improves. All the little and big muscles will start to work together. Even the muscles of your feet will get stronger.
11. Makes Your Bones Stronger
The body responds to strength exercise by depositing more calcium. This keeps your bones healthy and protects you from injury as you get older. For this exercise, this is particularly true if you hold weight in your hands to make it harder.
The walking lunge can be used for cardio fitness if you walk for higher reps (ex. 15-20 reps for each leg). It is also an effective strength and muscle builder if you use the 6-10 rep range. Don’t be afraid to keep challenging yourself with a heavier weight. I bet you are stronger than you think.
There are other great exercises, and they shouldn’t be ignored. Incorporate walking lunges into a well rounded program that includes flexibility, deep tissue massage and heart health.