Strong legs are the foundation of a strong body and strong mind. Lunges are one of the best exercises for improving your overall health, strength, and fitness.
In addition, lunges are safer for less advanced lifters because of the decreased load placed on the spine when compared to squats with a weighted barbell across your back.
Most people don’t and won’t incorporate lunges into their workout programs because they are difficult to perform, and they will make you sore if you aren’t used to doing them.
We can’t stress the benefits of lunges enough, they make your legs toned and defined, they help you run faster and jump higher, and they make your knees, ankles, and hips strong which helps protect us average Joe’s from injury.
How to Do Lunges:
As we mentioned in our previous post about Rows, we want to make sure we don’t neglect to train the muscles that we can’t see in the mirror. Planks are one of the best exercises we can do to build a strong core.
Benefits of Doing Planks and Plank Variations
Reduced low back pain by improving posture
When our core muscle are stronger in the front than in the back our midsection is continually being pulled forward by the tighter front muscles. This continual pulling causes chronic lower back pain. Doing planks evens out your core muscles because they strengthen the muscles around your spine in your low back. They correct the imbalance between our front and back abdominal muscles.
Reduce risk of back injury
Most low back injuries occur when we pick things up off the ground, boxes, bags, small children, etc. We are much less likely to get injured if we regularly train and strengthen the stabilizer muscles around our spine.
Planks also reduce our risk of injuring our backs when we workout. They are an anti-flexion exercise, meaning that we are not bending our spine and pressurizing our vertebrae and disks like we are when we do a crunching movement. In a plank position we are focusing core muscles in the back and front to keep our spine straight. If they don’t, we fall to the ground. Our core abdominal muscles were made to rotate and stabilize the center of our body, not the flex and squeeze forward.
More planks. Less sit ups and crunches.
We tend to neglect the muscles that we can’t see in the mirror and focus on those that we can. As a result, when most people workout they focus on pushing movements for their upper body, bench press, push ups, etc… However, if we neglect pulling movements such as Rows for too long we will soon experience chronic shoulder and back discomfort.
When we do pushing exercises our chest and shoulder muscles grow and tighten, which in turn pulls our shoulders forward. Ever see those guys in the gym that always look like their shoulders are hunched forward? That’s what I’m talking about.
Doing Rows will help you avoid this problem and keep your back and shoulders healthy and in the proper alignment. The 3 types of rows that I suggest are:
On all 3 types of rows your should keep your lower back tight and arched at all times throughout the movement and squeeze your shoulder blades together at the top. Incorporate 3 sets of 8-15 reps of rows into your weekly workout routine, and you’ll be well on your way to bulletproofing yourself from back pain and injury.
Look at your fitness from a holistic point of view. Looking good does no good if you don’t feel good. Remember the muscles that you can’t see in the mirror are just as important to your health as the ones you can see.