EXERCISE BREAKDOWN: REVERSE LUNGE
HOW TO DO IT
START WITH ALL YOUR WEIGHT ON THE WORKING LEG – either with one leg off the floor if you don’t have issues with balance, or with the other leg just chilling, toe down but only just enough to stabilise you.
TAKE A BIG STEP BACK – a lunge, if you will.
LAND GENTLY ON THE TOES, FOOT STRAIGHT – you must keep your foot in-line, not let it rotate out. You’ll need to flex the foot as you lower.
BUT KEEP ALL YOUR WEIGHT IN THE FRONT LEG – if it feels awkward, like you’re trapping your back foot… you’re putting too much weight into it. Make sure it all stays forward, your front leg should be doing all the work here.
LOWER SO BOTH LEGS ARE AT 90 DEGREES – front knee stays still. It takes a bit of practice to get the right length of stride, but that’s the whole point…. practice, it won’t take long to get the hang of it. Get the hang of it and then get really good at it.
TAP REAR KNEE TO GROUD – Its OK to start with a short range of motion while you’re learning, but when you get used to these it is imperative that one taps the rear knee to the ground so that you know you used full range of motion every time. I would suggest that you don’t tap it very hard or crash into the ground – that will hurt and injure you. Use a pillow or mat if you’re a high risk candidate.
LEAN IN SLIGHTLY – this engages the hips a wee bit, but don’t flex the spine, move from the hip.
COME BACK UP – Pause there briefly, then use your front leg to come back up. Focus on the front heal pushing into the ground, the torso remaining still and drive yourself back up.
LOCK OUT FRONT LEG – Keep going until we get Glute Lock and a straight working leg. The other leg must return to whichever position you started with.
HOW IT GOES WRONG AND HOW TO FIX IT
TOO MUCH WEIGHT BACK – it’s just a classic horrible lunge error. You think you have it right until huge amounts of force hit your back foot and its uncomfortable to go through the motion. It often happens when you lack balance and control. It can be corrected by focusing harder, by using the Hip Flexor Pull to initiate the move, by imagining its a Skater Squat, or by practicing with your feet in position and holding onto something to make control easier. Also, crave the work in the front leg, if you’re avoiding it, you’re kidding yourself. Make sure you feel what you should feel in the front peg.
YOU FALL OVER – Falling over dramatically reduces the effectiveness of the reverse lunge even though it can be funny to watch. If it keeps happening to you, don’t do it near and stairs or busy roads. Do do it though, next to something you can hold onto – take balance out of the equation and focus on building strength while getting used to the move.
KNEE SLIDES FORWARD – If this happens, we potentially have too much stress on the knee, but we definitely lose the intention we have for this drill. We want to feel the whole leg working with particular focus on the extensor chain’s Hamstring and Glute muscles… so focus on keeping the knee still. If you struggle, ask someone to hold it gently and practice feeling the move at the hip.
SPINE ROUNDS – As with anything leg that might involve added weight, we need to keep the spine still. If you struggle to control the hips, or have too much weight, you may lose your spine angle. Keep practicing, feel like you are moving around the ‘Iron Spine’.
KNEE CAVES IN – The old loss of alignment at the knee error. Your knee will seem to move inwards as you go. You don’t want this. Injury, pain and weakness will meet you here. Focus on pushing your knee out as you go through the move. Read the Skater Squat breakdown for a few more ideas on this.
WEIGHT IN FRONT LEG – keep telling yourself to keep 95% of the weight you use in the front leg, you’ll probably do it right then.
FEEL GLUTE – mind muscle connection alert! If you feel the right muscles, you’re probably doing it right. Focus on feeling the Glute stretch slightly at the bottom and lock/contract at the top and you’ll get a lot out of these.
Pull through the Hamstring to initiate, squeeze the Glute to finish – On the way back up that is. I got this cue form the blog of Tony Gentilcore. Its great, if you know your anatomy and have experience with the mind-muscle connection.
BIG CHEST/ IRON SPINE – a transferable cue with many applications. Good strength training = training with good posture.
PUMP UP THE FRONT LEG – The front leg is doing nearly all the work on these. If you do a fairly high rep set, you should be able to feel all the muscle of the front leg contracting and filling wroth blood on every rep. Imagine your pumping the leg full of blood with strong rhythmic repetitions.
MOVE AROUND THE FRONT KNEE – One must imagine the front knee & shin are locked in a concrete block, and the only way to complete the lunge (if you were still concerned about this despite your concrete block issues) – is to move around it.
STAMP FLOOR – Simply imagine you are stamping down hard through your front heal to drive back up. This should activate the right stuff.
ADD WEIGHT – Hold by your sides, or Goblet style.
SKATER SQUAT – Similar move if you do it in a hip dominant manner. Quite a bit harder depending on what sort of weight you’re lunging with.
INCREASE RANGE – use a step or step like object. Go down further, you’ll know about it.
HOLD ON – As discussed. Don’t be too proud. If poor balance interrupts your set more than once, hold on to something lightly until you get better. We want to get strong, we don’t have time to wobble around all day.
DECREASE RANGE – You don’t have to go all the way down at first, just make sure you’re working on getting there as soon as you can. Start with short range if you find it tough, just make sure you control the front leg and make sure you are in charge of the move when you stop.
DON’T BALANCE AT TOP – If you can’t balance, put your leg down and get on with it. Discussed this above, but just reminding you!
GLUTE LOCK & DOUBLE LEG GLUTE BRIDGE – If you can’t control your body at the top, can’t feel the Glute Lock, regress to these exercises, or do them as well, it will help you control things and help you stay safe when you get stronger.
WHY DO IT
COMPOUND LEG – This is a classic compound leg manoeuvre. Its not about one muscle, its about everything in your thighs – you need to train this. There is also a lot of upper body things happening to you as well when you start loading it.
GREAT STARTER EXERCISE, EASY TO LOAD – Its great for beginners, better than a forward lunge as its slightly less likely to make you sore. Plus an easy way top start hitting the Posterior Chain. It’s usually quick to learn – compared to a squat for sure, and it’s easy to load and take to high levels.
BALANCE, NATURAL, EFFECTIVE – its also a natural human move – a primal pattern. We base our training around these because our bodies crave these movements.