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Lunges can be effective for targeting the thighs and glutes.
Lunges are basic movements that you may often find yourself performing during everyday activities and sports. When used as an exercise, lunges can be a safe and effective way to strengthen several muscles of your lower body. They are also versatile, as lunges can be done in various different directions to target different muscle groups. They can also be modified in intensity to allow for your improving fitness level.
Lunges: Up Front
Front lunges target the muscle group of your front thigh known as the quadriceps. It consist of four muscles: rectus femoris, vastus lateralis, vastus medialis and vastus intermedius. These muscles play a vital role in movements of the lower body, such as walking, running or jumping. Front lunges also target the glute muscles of your rear end as well as the hamstrings. To perform a front lunge, step forward with your right leg leaving the left leg behind you and slightly bent. With your arms down your sides and your shoulders back, bend both legs keeping your front knee behind your toes. Push off the right leg and return to start. Switch legs and do the move on your left side.
Lunges: To the Side
Side lunges target your abductor -- or outer -- and adductor -- or inner -- thigh muscles. These muscles are crucial to lateral movements, such as shuffles and speed skaters. Begin by taking a step to your right side. Bend your right knee and send your hips back while keeping your left leg straight. Push off your bent leg and return to start. Step out to your left and perform this lunge on the other side.
Lunges: In Reverse
Like front lunges, reverse lunges also target the quadriceps muscles of the front thigh as well as the glutes and hamstrings. However, instead of taking a step forward to execute the exercise, reverse lunges begin by stepping backward. Initiating the lunge to the rear can be easier for beginners or those with knee concerns. To try a reverse lunge, step backward with your right foot. Bend both legs, keeping your front knee behind the toes. Your arms are kept down at your sides and your chest is lifted. Return your back leg to the starting position. Initiate the move on the other side by stepping backward with your left leg.
By incorporating a full range of motion in the movement, dynamic lunges can help you prepare your lower body for strenuous activities such as cycling, running, or plyometrics. The mechanics are the same as front, side, or reverse lunges. However, the step you take to initiate the move should be longer to make the lunge deeper and increase warmth in the muscles. These lunges not only target thigh muscles, glutes and hamstrings, they can also ignite and stretch your hip flexors. This can prepare the muscle group for higher intensity exercise as well as prevent injury. Before you perform dynamic lunges, be sure to thoroughly warm up the thighs and hip flexors to prepare for the full range of motion.