How NOT to Lunge: Your Guide to Pain-Free Training

Do you feel like something is not quite right when you perform a lunge?

Despite it being a basic exercise, and a staple of preparing for hiking and climbing, it’s a move that can do more harm than good if it’s not used safely.

So in this blog post I’m providing you with some examples of how not to do the lunge as well as a philosophy that could change the way you move for the rest of your life.

The aim here is to eliminate knee, hip and ankle pain when hiking and to move more confident, both in your training, and in the mountains.

So let’s dive into this movement and go back to basics!

You’re undoubtedly familiar with the basic lunge and how it’s done, right?

I’m sure with a glance at the photo below you can immediately understand what to do.

But there’s so much more to the lunge than these photos show.

When I released version 1 of our online training programs in 2015, I only supplied photos and a few cues on how to perform the exercise  – but I soon realised, photos just don’t cut it – they can’t possibly contain the necessary information that the average person needs to know in order to get the most out of this movement.

Some old program photos from 2015 – not bad, but the way I lunge now is far more upright.

To illustrate my point, here is an example of how a lunge could be interpreted and performed without any cues. I captured this video by accident a few weeks ago as the camera kept rolling after I had been filming my own videos for my programs.

Warning, this video is hard to watch (well, at least for me it is)

My intention isn’t to publicly shame these guys – I congratulate them for getting out of bed on a Monday morning and coming down to the beach for a group exercise session. I just want to provide an example of how I would not want you, or anyone who’s following my programs to perform a lunge.

As a personal trainer to hikers for almost a decade, my guess is that all 3 of these humans have very tight hips and tight backs from spending a lot of time sitting – and you can see that it’s effecting the way they move.

It’s highly likely that if any of these three individuals loaded their body with a heavy backpack for a few days in the mountains, at least one of them would suffer some sort of injury.

I don’t want that for you, especially if you’ve got a trip coming up.

If you’re preparing for the challenge of your life, like climbing Kilimanjaro, Denali, or something even bigger – you know that there is a lot on the line: thousands of dollars in trip and equipment costs, a year or more of planning and a once in a lifetime opportunity to do something incredible.

I don’t make shortcuts when the stakes are that high, nor should you.

All this time and effort is being put at risk if you are training through the pain and ignoring obvious areas of weakness, and just hoping that you’ll get to the summit and back without an injury.

Don’t train through the pain.

Whoever said no pain no gain was incredibly misguided.

If you’re experiencing ankle, hip or knee pain when squatting or lunging then something needs to change.

Change the way you move. Focus on quality.

Try this lunge variation from the video below, focus on the cues and note the difference in your body.

If your movement patterns are still a bit wonky, if you feel tight and unstable and a bit awkward in the way you move, then that’s ok, it will improve with time and with the right instruction.

Don’t focus on how many reps you can do. Focus on quality.

Focus on how your body feels – move slowly and purposefully.

This is the best way to learn your body and to become your own therapist who can identify and solve an injury before it occurs.

That is a skill could save your life in the mountains.

So watch the video below and focus on these major cues:

I know, its a lot to think about…

  • Practise PPT (posterior pelvic tilt) before, during and after the lunge.
  • Keep your chest up and shoulders back
  • Lower the back knee down slowly
  • At the bottom of the lunge, scoop your hips and squeeze your butt
  • Lean back slightly, not from the lower back but from the hips
  • You should feel tightness in the front of your hip, that’s good!
  • Squeeze your legs together as you push out of the lunge
  • Stand tall to complete the rep and repeat on the other side

This is just a small step to learning how to move better. If you like this style of training, and you are willing to cast your ego aside and go back to basics in order to give yourself the best chance of reaching your goal, then download my sample program and try it out!

If you have questions, if you’re still not sure you’re doing it right and you want to catch up with me 1 on 1 for a skype consultation contact me – I’d love to share what I’ve learned to help you move better.

I’ll see you on the summit.


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