4 Ways You're Doing Lunges Wrong

After a few easy fixes, you’ll be on your way to a better butt.

July 22, 2014
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There’s a reason that lunges are a gym-goer’s mainstay: The multi-tasking move is one of the best lower body exercises around, since it loosens up your hips, boosts your muscle tissue, and strengthens your core. Best of all, keeping lunges in the rotation will give you a better booty -- but only if you’re doing them correctly. 

More: 7 Fitness Fails Sabotaging Your Goals

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Want to make sure you're getting the butt benefits you deserve? Here, Danielle Hopkins, a group fitness manager at Equinox in New York City, spells out the most common lunge mistakes and how to correct them: 

#1 Lunge Mistake: Not dropping deep enough.
Regardless of whether you’re doing front or reverse lunges, you should always aim to get your back knee to almost touch the ground. “The deeper you go into the lunge, the more muscles you'll recruit so you can get the max out of this move,” says Hopkins. “Sometimes the solution is as simple as taking a bigger step forward or backward to allow for a full range of motion. Or, sometimes tight hips can prevent you from going deep into the lunge.” Leg swings are great for improving hip mobility. Another way to loosen up your hips is this move: Get into a high plank position and alternate stepping your foot outside of your hand -- bring your right hand to your right foot, then left hand to left foot; repeat. Aim to get your heel to touch the floor.

#2 Lunge Mistake: Forgetting to use your core.
“You might not know it, but lunges require some pretty serious core strength,” says Hopkins. “It's common to see people lunge and then fall forward into it with their upper body because they forget to keep their core engaged. If you can't see your face in the mirror when you're lunging, you are definitely guilty as charged.” To keep proper form, focus on opening your chest by pulling your shoulder blades together as you do the move, then keep your core tight throughout, drawing up and in from your pelvic floor. While you’re in the deepest part of the lunge, your shoulder and hip should be in the same line.  

More: 13 Core Exercises Better Than Crunches 

#3 Lunge Mistake: Allowing your knee to fall inward.
Throughout the lunge, your knee should stay in alignment with your ankle. “When the knee starts to track inward, usually that means your gluteus medius (your upper butt muscle) is weak,” Hopkins explains. “A fun way to strengthen your gluteus medius is to incorporate some band movements into your workout -- think giant rubber bands.” She recommends lateral band walks: place bands just above your ankles and with feet shoulder-width apart and knees slightly bent, take sideways steps.

#4 Lunge Mistake: Getting stuck in a rut.
“There are so many different lunge versions you can try -- incorporate different variations to increase mobility and target different muscles,” says Hopkins. “Multi-directional lunge patterns will increase strength and flexibility, and allow you to target all of your quad, glute, and hamstring muscles.” Try a three-way lunge: perform a front lunge, a side lunge, and then a reverse lunge all on one side for a few rounds.