Dumbbell lunges are a great exercise that strengthens your quadriceps and also offers some exercise to synergistic muscles such as the gluteus maximums, adductor magnus and soleus. Because this exercise is performed using free weights, rather than a machine, you are forced to recruit stabilizing muscles too. The stabilizing muscles recruited in your legs include the hamstrings and gastrocnemius. In addition, your core is employed to help you keep the right posture, recruiting the erector spinae, upper and lower trapezius, levator scapulae, tibialis anterior, obliques, gluteus minimus, gluteus medius, and quadrates lumborum. As you can see, if you perform these lunges correctly and with an appropriate weight you will find that it strengthens and tones your entire body
Performing a Lunge Correctly
To perform a lunge correctly, take two equally weighted dumbbells, and stand with them grasped by your sides. Lunge forward with one leg, landing on your heel and rolling down onto your forefoot. Lower your body slowly by flexing the knee and hip of your front leg, drop your weight slowly until the knee of your rear leg is almost touching the floor. Hold there for a second or two then raise yourself back up to a standing position by extending the hip and knee joint of your front leg. Repeat the motion by stepping forward with the opposite leg. This counts as one full repetition.
Be sure to keep your torso upright while you are performing the lunge. Keep your leading knee pointing in the same direction as your foot throughout the motion. Lower your weight slowly so that you don’t damage your hip flexors. Choose a weight that will leave you fatigued after 10-20 repetitions, but that is not so heavy as to impair your posture.
Progression for Dumbbell Lunges
These lunges are a good exercise for beginners because they place less stress on your knees than a full squat, while still offering a good workout. If you have not done any exercise before, you can start by doing unweighted lunges, and then gradually working up to performing the exercise with a weight in each hand. If you have tight hip flexors, warm up and do some gentle stretching to loosen them up before you try this exercise.
You can target different muscles with dumbbell style lunges. A long lunge puts stress on the gluteus maximus, while a shorter lunge places the emphasis on your quadriceps. If you do not feel comfortable working with a lot of weight, you can perform the exercise with a lower weight and walk up and down the mats as you lunge. To build stamina, try holding the position at the bottom of the lunge for as long as you can.
Once you feel confident in your strength performing these lunges, consider moving on to squats, deadlifts, leg curls or other exercises that involve slightly more weight. Always warm up before performing any exercise that involves heavy weight, and be mindful of your form. Stop the exercise if you experience any pain.