The side lunge is one of the more effective exercises that work all the large muscles of the lower body: quads, hams, glutes, inner and outer thighs. Lunges are important in any fitness routine because they help with functional strength and support the daily rigors of standing, walking, running, and climbing. In addition, side lunges can be done with various weight accessories to add resistance and strengthen your core.
A basic side lunge consists of standing with feet together. With the left foot, take a step sideways as far as is comfortable, keeping that leg straight. As you step sideways, the right leg bends at the knees, keeping in line with the ankle. Hold this position for 2-3 seconds, push off with the bent leg and repeat the same action with the right leg. The length of your lunge is important; whereas a shorter lunge works the quadriceps of the legs, a wider lunge would emphasize the gluteous muscles.
In addition, if your lunge is far too wide, the shinbone will not align properly with the knee and can create knee damage and loss of balance, especially when doing side lunges with weights. Proper form is crucial in side lunges because if not performed correctly, leg muscles may not develop to their maximum potential, and you may not achieve the results you desire. As such, check to see if your back is straight, your chest is up, facing forward, and abdominal muscles are pulled in and tightened. This posturing will help you keep good balance and not place undue stress on your back.
To prevent twisting of the knee and/or injury, your knee should always face in the direction the foot is pointing. Both feet should remain flat on the floor to allow support as you shift your body weight into your hips. Side lunge variations mostly involve the use of different workout equipment and gadgets depending on personal preference. If you want to add muscle and mass, do this exercise with a barbell, as this gives you a better center point, stability and helps target major muscles. As such, you can do a side lunge with either a weighted or non-weighted barbell on your shoulders. This exercise variation incorporates muscles of the shoulders, upper and middle back.
A side lunge performed with a medicine ball helps add strength to core muscles. When doing a side lunge, lower the medicine ball towards the shin of the leg that is making the lunge, as this motion helps you to strengthen your obliques.
A dumbbell side lunge can be performed by doing the lunge, holding dumbbells on each side. You can also hold the dumbbells up and above your shoulders to do the lunge, as well as holding one dumbbell to the front, the other towards the back to give more variation to this exercise.
To reap maximum benefits of doing side lunges, there are also complementary exercises to incorporate for thorough and effective lower body conditioning. These are squats, leg presses, hamstring curls, straight leg dead lifts, rear lunges, etc. Side lunges are a great variation on the basic lunge; if you execute these moves on a regular basis, you will be working all the major muscles of your lower body to keep you strong, straight, and certainly fit.