Lunges are a great exercise that you can do in the gym, or anywhere, as they require little or no equipment. They work all the leg muscles, including your thighs, gluteus, hamstrings and core. Not only are lunges one of the best exercises for toned legs and a perky butt, but they also are back-friendly. Strong quads make you much less likely to hurt your ankles or knees running for a tennis shot, trail running or in yoga class. Learning how to do them properly can help you move better and enhance movement competence.

The lunge is thought of as one of the primary patterns of movement, or an essential building block of many more complex movement sequences. If you find yourself struggling to control the range, stability and timing of a standing lunge, which is a fundamental movement, you might have issues in the real world, be it tennis, stairways, yoga or soccer. The skill you develop doing lunges isn’t just that you are doing an “exercise,” but rather that you are training movement. These are the patterns the body creates in everyday life and sport. (Don’t worry, if your knees can’t tolerate lunges, there are other terrific quad-building exercises better suited for you.)

It’s always important to learn proper technique, and the standing lunge has constants. Stay tall, and keep your knee over the second toe. But that thought has its nuances. Standing poses in yoga, like Warrior One (think of a fencer), involve a minor tweak. In this lunge, the front knee actually moves toward the baby toe, and the front foot position has the leg bent to a right angle.

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