T Nation

Failing the Lunge Test !

Hi !

Just starting to use lunges as
a part of leg training.
However i have a slight stability problem. (A dendency to fall over to one side or / and keeping my legs still.

There is a lot of info about this on the
nett, but i am not shure how to understand the info.
Seems like lunges are used to test
hip stability.

A training buddy says he have heard that it could be a sign of week gluteus medius.

The stability problem is in fact worse with out dumbells !

However i have seen others also have this problem. So it can’t be uncomon.
Found this on a runners page :

The lunge test assesses hip and trunk mobility and stability, quadriceps flexibility, and ankle and knee stability. It also places the body in a position that focuses on the stresses similar to rotational, decelerating and lateral type movements. In addition, the athlete’s lower extremities are placed in a scissor position that challenges the body’s trunk and extremities to resist rotation and maintain proper alignment.

Should i just go ahead and train with lunges ? or do i have to strengthen som
smaller and perhaps, ignored muscles ?

[quote]jan1971 wrote:
Hi !

Just starting to use lunges as
a part of leg training.
However i have a slight stability problem. (A dendency to fall over to one side or / and keeping my legs still.

There is a lot of info about this on the
nett, but i am not shure how to understand the info.
Seems like lunges are used to test
hip stability.

A training buddy says he have heard that it could be a sign of week gluteus medius.

The stability problem is in fact worse with out dumbells !

However i have seen others also have this problem. So it can’t be uncomon.
Found this on a runners page :

The lunge test assesses hip and trunk mobility and stability, quadriceps flexibility, and ankle and knee stability. It also places the body in a position that focuses on the stresses similar to rotational, decelerating and lateral type movements. In addition, the athlete’s lower extremities are placed in a scissor position that challenges the body’s trunk and extremities to resist rotation and maintain proper alignment.

Should i just go ahead and train with lunges ? or do i have to strengthen som
smaller and perhaps, ignored muscles ?[/quote]

Dont use dumbbells until you have your stability worked out.

Start off with shallower lunges and gradually work your way up to longer stride ones (over a few weeks not in the same worjout). Once you feel comfortable and stable at a certain stride then move onto a longer stride.

Make sure you have the flexibility to get down into the position you’re trying to attain. Work on strengthening your ENTIRE core also.

Lets hope someone doesnt come in here and make this more complicated than what it should be.

[quote]PGA200X wrote:

Dont use dumbbells until you have your stability worked out.

Start off with shallower lunges and gradually work your way up to longer stride ones (over a few weeks not in the same worjout). Once you feel comfortable and stable at a certain stride then move onto a longer stride.

Make sure you have the flexibility to get down into the position you’re trying to attain. Work on strengthening your ENTIRE core also.

Lets hope someone doesnt come in here and make this more complicated than what it should be.[/quote]

I agree with PGA, especially about the issue of complexity.

On a side note, reverse lunges are my favorite exercise. They’re so awesome!

  1. Simplify: Maybe you don’t have a stability problem. In the gym I am at, most of the problems come down to a learning issue. The more you practice the lift with an effort toward correct form, the better the lift gets and those “imbalances” (which all the skinny trainers seem convinced we all have and that they are going to kill us) seem to just disappear. A lunge is a complex movement pattern (not as much as the full clean but certainly more complex than the biceps curl)and it will take some time get down correctly, especially if you are now incorporating external loading.
  2. Are you concentrating on what you are doing? If you are checking out the slutty in her tight pants instead of practicing your body awareness, you won’t do anything correct, let alone a complex movement like the lunge.
  3. Are you generally weak? If not, then forget about it, but I see a lot of people in my gym with trainers who can’t even do a proper squat with bodyweight, let alone with the bar, who then try to perform a unilateral movement like lunges. Are you generally inflexible? that will screw up your lunges too.
  4. Assesments are a dangerous thing. A lot of trainers like to try and be pseudo medical types and “assess” their clients. Problem is that even highly trained pt’s and ortho’s will tell you that surface assessments don’t tell you everything. The guy named boyle, who just wrote an article on this site will tell you your problem is a glute medius issue but how does he know. I was always taught that the knee buckling in was caused by weak ADDUCTORS NOT GLUTE MEDIUS. The knee adducts in order to recruit more quad into the movement to make up for a week adductor group. Now your “assessment” has got your pushing your knees out against belts and bands in an effort to strengthen up you glute medius when it may not even be the problem after all and may even complicate your problems by adding in a uneeded and incorrect motor program.

THE SOLUTION:
Regress the progression of your lunge. Hold on to something, concentrate, and have somebody watch you and judge your form. If you can do the lift with support, then move to no support and once again have the lift judged, not assessed. It may take time and concentration, but practice and feedback (not a wannabe medical test) are all you are really going to need.

I am more of the heavy type.
Never been skilfull in “balance sport”
Don’t feel week.

Have been doing 3 x 10 reps at 4 days.

“A lunge is a complex movement pattern”
Yes very true. I was surprised of hard it is to do correct.
At least I am now able to keep my torsoe
stright up, had a tendency to lean forward at first.

Perhaps I should be more patient, and
also awoid the deepest and longest
strides. (Doing this to also hit G.Maximus)

Just practise. You’ll get better.

You can do them with a db in one hand next to a rack, so you can use your other hand to stabilise on the rack. Aim to do entire sets with no touches. After a few weeks you’ll be lunging like a pro.

I agree with PGA. Don’t go all the way down at first. Just go down as far as you feel comfortable and go from there. Be careful you don’t step out too far while doing lunges.

You may also want to try starting out by lunging with a light or empty olypmic bar on your shoulders, as dumbells can get in the way of your legs when moving, I personally find it easier to balance like this.

All the other advice is great, just make sure your knee is tracking over your foot on your front leg to ensure you aren’t doing anything nasty to your knees.

If you are lacking stability when lunging, try this - When you stride out, keeping about 60% of your weight on your front heal. Drop your hips straight down, keep your shoulders right above your hips. DO NOT pitch forward, DO NOT allow your knee to move in forward of your toes. Keep both knees facing forward, DO NOT allow your back knee and hip to twist to the side. You achive this by lifting your back heal, keeping about 40% of your wieght on your toes. You do not have to go all the way to the floor.

A good away to practice is by doing a split squat. Using a lunge stride, stay stationary, use dumbbells for weight or simply hold on to something for balance practice droping the back knee to the floor. Hope that is helpful.