If for some reasons you don’t want (or can’t) do the classic squats, lunges will be great alternative. Though this exercise is preferred by women (it gives an ability to work better on buttock muscles), some complicated kinds of lunges can help even experienced athlete to work on hips and increase the stretch. Also lunges can be used to warm up before the squats, preparing knee joints to increased loads. Besides, don’t forget that in daily life we load our leg muscles alternately more often – lunges give exactly that natural load.
What muscles work: quadriceps, buttock muscles, rear hip muscles.
Performing the exercise: stand straight, put your feet a little more narrow than your shoulder-width, hands on hips. Move your bodyweight to one leg, make a big step with the other one. In this position the knee of your front leg should be approximately on your toes level (calf almost perpendicular to the floor), your rear leg will be almost straight because of standing on your feet’s finger pads (photo 1). Without stopping try to go down by your knees, until your rear leg’s knee touches the floor (photo 2). By using your muscles and front leg push, go back to the starting position. Repeat the exercise on the other leg.
Notice: your back should be straight during the whole exercise. The movement should be continuous, but with slowing down (almost stop) in the lower position, and acceleration to go back. Do not let your body swing, go down strict vertically, most of the bodyweight on your front leg. When exercising on hard floor, put a towel under your rear leg’s knee to prevent injuries.
If it is difficult for you to do the full lunges – try to only do the middle part of the exercise, bending your knees without going to starting position or additionally strengthen your leg muscles by doing step ups (raises) on a pillar.
If you can do more than 20 front lunges with perfect technique – move on to the next level, doing back lunges, plate lunges and bulgarian lunges. Also you can increase the load on muscles by putting the front leg on a small, 15-20cm high, pillar (photo 3). By bigger movement amplitude, you can not only regulate the load, but achieve better hips stretch (photo 4), which allows to perform other legs exercises more effectively (for example, full squats).
Good books to read:
Bret Contreras. Bodyweight Strength Training Anatomy – Human Kinetics, 2013 – 224 p.
Kavadlo Al. Pushing the Limits: Total Body Strenght with No Equipment – Dragon Door Publications, 2013 – 224 p.
BJ Gaddour. Your Body Is Your Barbell: No Gym. Just Gravity. Build a Leaner, Stronger, More Muscular You in 28 Days – Rodale, 2014 – 288 p.
Paul Wade. Convict Conditioning 2: Advanced Prison Training Tactics for Muscle Gain, Fat Loss and Bulletproof Joints – Dragon Door Publications, 2012 – 340 p.