Side lunges are one of more effective exercises which can work all your lower body large muscles such as glutes, hams, quads, inner and outer thighs. 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 gluteus 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.
Tips to Improve Stretching Yoga Lunges
Some yoga poses require you to do lunges. But many beginners find it difficult to do lunges properly. It is very important that you learn to do it the right way, the first time itself. Here we shall discuss a few tips that you can bear in mind when doing lunges.
When you do a lunge, you can start from a kneeling position where your thighs are vertical and shins horizontal to the floor. Lift one leg, say your right leg and place it in a position where your thigh is horizontal and shin vertical. The precaution for you to take here is to ensure that you place your right foot with the toes pointing straight ahead. Do not turn your foot to your right or left, as this would not give you an effective foothold when you do the following steps.
Also ensure that your knee is right above your ankle and that your shin is not slanted. Now place your palms on either side of your right foot and lift your left leg on your toes. Your left knee is aloft the floor. Ensure that while stretching out your left leg, you do not lock your left knee. At this stage ensure that your head, neck, spine and left leg all are aligned at the same angle. The crown of your head should be aligned with your left heel. This would be a perfect lunge.
Those who find the length of their arms not just enough can also use props like yoga blocks, which you may place on either side of your right foot. You would need to do this if you find it difficult to place your palms on the floor on either side of your right foot, and also keep your head aligned with your left heel. You can now place your palms on the yoga blocks and ensure that the crown of your head and your heel are aligned at the same angle.
To ensure that the lunge is most effective for your spine, you would need to lower your hips to give exercise to your spine. With your right leg bent from the knee you would feel the stretch at your right glute (buttock). Another part where you would feel a stretch at this position is at the left thigh. At this stage, keep inhaling deeply in long sustained breaths. After three to five breaths at this stage, you can gradually lower your left knee to the floor and withdraw your right leg to bring it along side your left leg to exit from this lunge.