The lateral lunge is a very effective way to improve both mobility and stability is a variety of muscles and joints in the lower body. Here I provide 8 lateral lunge variations you can use to improve both the mobility and stability of your lower body.
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A lateral lunge is a single leg exercise that involves stepping one leg to the side and squatting (knee flexion) the knee to the floor. The lateral lunge is typically used as a warm up or for improving the mobility and stability of the joints and muscles of the lower body.
These are some of the most effective warm up exercises for heavy squatting, they allow the hip, knee and ankle to move through challenging ranges of motion. This means that when we move from a lateral lunge to a traditional squat our joints are open and ready to perform the movement, it can feel much easier performing a traditional squat after having done a lateral lunge variation.
Athletes are required to perform a great deal of organic movement patterns, moving the hips through challenging positions at different speeds. Using lateral lunges to increase the strength and stability of the hip joint will be very beneficial for athletes of all kinds. From martial arts too tennis, having great hip mobility and stability will always be an advantage.
The mobility of the hip is important for general health and movement throughout the day, so using the lateral lunge to improve both the mobility and the stability of the hip is a great way to ensure your able to perform all the activities that life demands of you. Hip mobility is also important for squat positioning, so if you’re looking to improve your squat positioning by improving the mobility of your hips then using lateral lunges can be an effective tool.
The lateral lunge, especially when loaded in a progressive manner, can be particularly effective at improving the mobility of the adductor. For people with very tight adductors, squat positioning can be a challenge, so this could be a great exercise to tackle this mobility limitation.
Adding in movements like the 45 degree lunge and other examples from this list can help avoid repetitive strain issues from constantly using the hips in a fixed position. This is not only an issue for experienced squatters who compete in weightlifting and powerlifting, but for the general public, being exposed to multiple different movement patterns is extremely beneficial for general joint health. We are supposed to be able to perform novel organic movements and sometimes just lifting weights in fixed positions can create issues.
This might be a controversial opinion, but hopefully not among seasoned strength and conditioning coaches, the lateral lunge should not be used as a strength, muscle gain or even in fitness “circuits”. This exercise has been misconstrued as a glute exercise for a while and this is a complete misuse of this exercise. Firstly because the majority of people performing it are so far from flexible enough to perform it well that it that it is a mobility exercise. Secondly, even if you have enough flexibility to perform it well it will still be very challenging on hip flexibility, which makes loading it with any form of weight challenging. Finally, even if your hyper-mobile and can perform this exercise with weights, I can see no reason to use it over a uni-lateral lunge variation.
Lateral lunging can be a useful part of a strength and conditioning programme, but never has it been an exercise that is considered adept at developing high levels of strength, gaining muscle or improving cardiovascular fitness. It is to add variety to squat patterns for both mobility and joint health, as well as to warm up for other squat variations which can be more effectively loaded.
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This resource was written by Sean Klein. Sean Richard Klein has thousands of hours of coaching experience and a BSc in Sports Science with Management from Loughborough University. He owns a gym in Bayonne France, CrossFit Essor, which runs group classes and a Personal training studio.