Building A Great Lower Body Without Injury

When I see women doing walking lunges at the gym I have to fight the urge to intervene.  Walking lunges are a rather advanced exercise, and should be not be attempted by “newbies”.  

But, who do you see doing walking lunges?  Most often women holding hand weights, wobbling on every step while their trainers bark at them to do “5 more!”  An injury waiting to happen.  

Don’t get me wrong, lunges are great for the lower body, just do them standing in place in front of a mirror so you can see how your knee tracks, keeping your spine erect and core engaged.  

If your balance is not great, hold onto the back of an upright chair, and for heavens sake don’t add weight until you can do 20 reps. on each leg perfectly.  Most of the time your body weight is p-l-e-n-t-y.  

Every step you take in a walking lunge is a potential injury.  How your foot plants on the floor translates up through your ankle, knee, hip spine, and neck.  A protracted step with the weight primarily toward the inner ankle, or the opposite, a supinated foot placement will throw off the entire chain.  

Say your ankle and the muscles of your foreleg are strong and balanced, and your foot manages to land correctly on every step, you then need to worry about how your knee tracks over your foot.  That’s where most of the mistakes happen.  

Just a slight shift of your center of gravity will compromise the tracking of your knee.  Also, a muscular imbalance between the adductors and abductors can pull the knee off track.  A weak medial glute could result in a “knock-kneed” lunge, (common among women).  

Another problem is loosing your balance in the upper body due to weak core muscles, or rounding forward in the spine when your back muscles are weak. 

If you must step, try starting with your feet together and taking a long step forward to lunge on the right leg, returning to the starting position, and repeating on the left.  That would be the safest way to add a step to your lunge.  

More advanced lunge exercises, (stepping back, side or on a diagonal) should be done with a qualified trainer.  

Other perhaps safer choices to train your glutes include the leg press, body-weight squats, and ball squats (using a stability ball behind your back, against a wall). 

Any exercise that is new to you should be done with the help of a trainer in ensure proper technique for better results and injury prevention.  

I offer one-on-one training to design and guide you through a safe and effective personalized exercise plan. Contact me for a free 15 minute consultation at, or call me at 301-332-5732.