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Thread: WTF is a lunge supposed to do, anyway? page

  1. #1
    junebu8's Avatar
    junebu8 is offline Senior Member
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    Nov 2010

    WTF is a lunge supposed to do, anyway?

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    Ok so I've tried doing lunges lots of time in my high school gym with a teacher directing, a few times during very short gym memberships involving personal trainers, and on my own with videos and books a handful of times. So far, I don't understand what the exercise is supposed to be doing. What muscles are supposed to be working? I could do lunges all day and night and never feel anything. And I am not a fit person in ANY way, so I know it's not just that I'm super strong and talented.

    I have also tried yoga positions that involve the same kind of pose and I feel no stretch, nor do I feel any muscles 'working'

    I know I must not be doing it right.

    In case this has anything to do with it, I have a tiny butt and I have yet to ever come across an exercise that works my glutes. Not on a machine or on my own. No squats, nothing. They all work ONLY my quads. Ever.

  2. #2
    Dragonfly's Avatar
    Dragonfly is offline Senior Member
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    Port Townsend, Washington
    S-L-O-W down, way down. Makes lunges and squats a lot harder when you aren't relying on momentum. Try a slow 4 count cadence--4 up, 4 down.

    Both lunges and squats will work your quads, glutes, hamstrings, calves, and all your smaller stabilizer muscles--basically all your leg muscles.

    Try 50 of Mark's PB Fitness FULL squats at this slower pace. You can see the video demo linked to his e-book to see the proper form. I'm sure you can Google and find a video for proper lunge form. Once you have the form down and can do at least 40 lunges slowly, then you can do them while holding dumbbells or wearing a weight vest to make them harder.
    Last edited by Dragonfly; 11-21-2010 at 07:38 PM. Reason: fix typo

  3. #3
    primalrob's Avatar
    primalrob is offline Senior Member
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    Manchester, NH
    if you're doing them correctly, lunges should really be working your quads, glutes and hamstrings. it is possible that you are only feeling it more in one place than the others.
    double check your form, and make sure that you are pushing through your heel and not your toes. in fact, take your toes completely out of the equation by curling them upwards. you'll still be using your quads to get out of the bend, but the power to stand up straight should come from your hips, and that will engage your glues and hamstrings. if you're still not feeling it working those muscles, try a few where you are really exploding up.

  4. #4
    Melody's Avatar
    Melody is offline Senior Member
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    Jul 2010
    My glutes kill the day after a ton (100ish) lunges. Keep your hands off your legs, take long steps, and get your knee almost to the floor.

  5. #5
    979roadrunner's Avatar
    979roadrunner is offline Senior Member
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    Aug 2010
    Columbus, Texas
    Tiny butt indicates possible glute inactivation problem, you might try some short bridges to teach the glutes to activate.
    When I do lunges I feel it in my glutes, quads, hams.
    The purpose of the exercise is to strengthen the legs unilateraly, and without invovlving the back muscles. Lunges are harder than squats for me, unless I weight the squats
    I'm not old, I'm Vintage!

  6. #6
    theholla's Avatar
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    I just wanted to add that it's really common for women who start strength training to be quad dominant, and this isn't an uncommon issue. Basically, since you start out with stronger quads than hamstrings or glutes, your body continues to rely on it's strong quads, rather than engaging those other muscle groups. It can help if you slow the exercise down and practice the motion unweighted while focusing on form and muscle engagement. I also like 979roadrunner's bridge suggestion, especially since bridges are such a fun exercise.

    Lunge Testimonial: For most of my life, I was also afflicted with a tiny (and flat) booty. Now, thanks to squats, lunges, sprints, and a primal diet, I finally have some shape back there and can fill out the butt of my pants (which Mr. Holla certainly doesn't mind). So, you can do it! Activate those hamstrings! Engage that booty !
    The Primal Holla! Eating fat. Getting lean. Being awesome.

    You were sick, but now you're well, and there's work to do. - Kilgore Trout

  7. #7
    Suse's Avatar
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    oooh this is exciting news. I have no butt whatsoever.... mind you I also have really skinny legs. I need to get my act together, if you say it has worked for you theholla, then i'm keen to know more. roadrunner, what do you mean by short bridges??

  8. #8
    forsbd's Avatar
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    Short bridges - lay on your back and keeping your shoulders on the ground, slowly thrust your hips toward the ceiling, hold for 10-15 seconds, and then lower yourself, repeat.

  9. #9
    Meg-a-Tron's Avatar
    Meg-a-Tron is offline Senior Member
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    Apr 2010
    BC, Canada
    If squats and lunges aren't activating your hams and glutes, you're doing them wrong lol! Add weight, go slow, try planche (sp?) lunges- straight back leg, and stepping out an angle instead of directly forward, and make sure you're sitting back on your squats, not tipping forward.

    And women naturally have much stronger quads apparently than hams/glutes.
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  10. #10
    dragonmamma's Avatar
    dragonmamma is offline Senior Member
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    May 2009
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    Another recommendation to make sure your weight is on your heels, not the balls of your feet or your toes. That heel should never come off the ground. Oh, and make sure there is no lift in the heels of your shoes.

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