Another benefit of lunges: you can do them nearly anywhere.
If your idea of exercise consists of pounding out hours of cardio each week, you're missing an important component of overall fitness: strength training. This essential form of exercise often includes lifting additional weight, but it can also include simple body-weight exercises such as lunges or step-up exercises. For the best health outcomes, incorporate strength training into your routine two to three days a week.
Beneп¬Ѓts of Strength Training
The п¬Ѓrst beneп¬Ѓt of strength training is, of course, building muscle mass and gaining strength. Stronger muscles will help you maintain mobility as you age and help you prevent the falls that can lead to debilitating injuries. But there's more. Strength training also helps you build bone mass, warding off the threat of osteoporosis, as well as helping you burn more calories throughout the day. Muscle tissue requires more energy to maintain than other tissue, so by building more muscle it can be easier to create the calorie deп¬Ѓcit that leads to weight loss.
The Benefits of Lunges
Lunge exercises strengthen most of the muscles of the lower body. The main muscles you'll work are the quadriceps -- that group of four muscles that make up the thighs. Additionally, lunges strengthen the gluteus maximus of the backside, as well as the calves and the adductor magnus of the inner thigh. If you want to incorporate lunges into your routine, start out with one or two sets of 10 repetitions, and try doing different versions of the exercise every few weeks. Options include the side lunge, forward and back lunges, and for the more advanced, lunges while holding a pair of dumbbells.
Stepping up onto a box works similar muscles as the lunge, but instead of lowering your body down toward the п¬‚oor, you're working against gravity in something of the opposite direction. Step-ups will primarily work the gluteus maximus but will also strengthen the quadriceps, adductor magnus and soleus of the calves. Because it strengthens the muscles surrounding the knee, the exercise is often used during knee rehabilitation, suggests the T Nation website. Beginners should typically start with a step that is a few inches off the ground and progressively add more height to increase the challenge. You can also hold a pair of dumbbells or even a barbell to add more intensity. Try stepping up from the front, side and even backward to work your muscles in a variety of ways. To ensure you're isolating the muscles of the leg that's doing the stepping up, make sure you're not pushing off with the foot of the leg that's on the ground.
Another Way to Use the Step
Step-up training has a more vigorous cousin that can come in handy if you're looking to increase the height of your jumps or to gain more explosive power for sports such as basketball or volleyball. Plyometrics is basically a fancy name for jump training. The idea is that the muscles' elasticity or "spring" action gets more effective through repeated jumping or hopping. You can do this training on the п¬‚oor, too, but it gets more challenging with the use of a step. Try jumping onto the step with both feet, jumping back down and quickly jumping back onto the step a total of 10 to 20 times, doing several sets in succession. To add variety and challenge, hop onto the step with one leg or jump onto the box sideways.