Lunges and Split Squats can be an extremely useful tool in any workout plan. They allow us to sculpt and strengthen the largest muscles in our lower body including our hip complex, hamstrings, glutes, quadriceps, and even our calves. Perfecting this motion can be a challenging pursuit since it exposes many weaknesses in our body.
Split Squats vs Lunges
Both motions end in the same position, although a lunge starts in a neutral position and is initiated by a step (forward, backward, right or left). A split squat on the other hand, starts with a wide, staggered stance and finishes when the back knee is about 6 inches above the ground, placing the load in our front leg. The depth of a split squat can be modified depending on our body and our ability to maintain form*.
How to Keep Form*
The split squat / lunge stance is challenging because the end position of both motions put our body in an unsteady position; forcing us to keep our balance, while engaging each leg independently - primarily our front leg.
Equal Weight Distribution In Foot - We should be engaging both our hamstring and our quadricep as we lower and come out of the position. This is especially important to practice as we warm up so proper form can be maintained as we get farther into our workout.
Hips Square - Squaring our hips and not allowing them to turn out helps ensure we will engage our muscles equally, without favoring one part over another.
Core Engaged - Keeping our core engaged prevents us from slumping forward. It also helps line our hips up so they do not turn out (as previously mentioned).
Comfortable Stance - Our stance is contingent upon our leg length. Make sure your front knee is stacked over your ankle as you lower down.
Manageable Weight - Using too heavy of a weight can cause us to lose form. The best way to get stronger is to first start on the lighter-side, and then work your way up, but only as form can be maintained.
Split squats and lunges expose weaknesses in our: hip mobility, balance, ankle mobility, quad, hamstring, adductor and glutes strength. If any one of those is out of sync with the rest, it can cause any number of these mistakes:
Stance is Too Wide or Narrow - The flexibility of our hips plays a big part into the travel pattern of our split squat or lunge. There is a fine line between having too wide and too close a stance. The key is lining-up your knee over your ankle, and then listening to your body.
Rear Knee Turns Out - Another mistake caused by having tight hips is when our rear knee turns out. If this happens, it is best to shorten the depth of the motion and continue to stretch and foam roll your glutes, hips and inner thighs.
Rear Toes Not Planted - Ankle flexibility is an often overlooked factor in proper lunging. When our ankles are tight, we have a harder time getting the mobility we need from our ankles, calves and achilles tendons. If our ankles cannot comfortably bend and adjust as we lower, our hips will immediately turn out and we'll lose balance.
Shoulders or Torso Drop - When our core is weak we have a harder time maintaining posture. Our upper back and posture muscles are also part of our core muscles. Practice drawing your navel in, then pull your shoulders back. This position should be maintained through every stage of the motion.
Lunge Too Far Forward - Be mindful of where your front knee travels as you lower your back knee down. Engage the quadricep of your front leg to maintain control as you lower. Your front knee should never pass your toes.
The key to any progressive workout program is to start at a level in which our body allows. If we haven't worked out in a while, have been recovering from an injury, or perhaps have been battling something else, we may not be in our peak shape right now. That's okay!
🚫 What's not okay is to put your ego before common sense 🚫
Some examples of this are:
Not taking enough time to warm up
Grabbing too heavy of weight
Not modifying certain movements
The best way to ensure your workout is just as safe as it is effective is to use modifications or alternates when our bodies feel aches or pain.
We know it can be hard when the person next to you is moving faster and grabbing heavier weight than you. Especially when you know that you're stronger, faster, better, etc. than that person. Congratulations you are, now check your ego and do what's best for your body.
The benefit to controlling your ego is that you can better prime yourself for future performance. Here are 9 useful modifications for Lunges and Split Squats:
1️⃣Body Squat w 2 Sec Hold
2️⃣Resistance Band Squat
3️⃣Body Band Hip Extension
4️⃣March w Knee Extension
5️⃣Squat to March w Leg Extension
6️⃣Single Leg Squat
7️⃣Lateral Step Down
8️⃣Elevated Split Squat
9️⃣Alternating Reverse Lunge
▶️ Full Video
📷 The key to optimizing any multi-joint movement like a lunge and split squat is taking the time to PRIME your body. Sometimes that doesn't come at all during the workout, and that's okay. That's what the next one is for. #SmarterNotHarder
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