SCULPTING THE LOWER BODY: THE LUNGE

You are a Sculptor. The medium you work in is the human physique. If your goal is to become a Master Sculptor and create your own “Masterpiece,” have you ever stopped to consider that while you are chipping away at the “LOOSELY PACKED MUSCLE (FAT),” you have over 600 underlying muscles that need to be exercised according to their own specific contractile functions? If you are performing the same two dozen or so popular exercises that 98% of the “Gym Rats” are performing, how many of the over 600 muscles of your physique are maximally contracting? Think about the limitless movements your body can make and that will give you a rough idea of how many exercises you need to do to sculpt your Masterpiece!

Study just one of the tools of a Master Sculptor of Physiques: The Lunge, and you will see the wide variations available to you.

(1) The Resistance: Most Sculptors will use barbells or dumbbells for the Lunge. Obviously there are other forms of resistance, medicine balls, weight plates, etc., but these two are most convenient.

(2) Foot Placement: Sculptors will use three primary foot placements: short, medium and long for dramatically different changes in stress on muscles and muscle activation.

(3) Muscle Action: The three primary muscle actions are: Stationary, Push-Back and Walking Lunges. Since the Gluteus Maximus will only maximally contract on long walking strides, the “Walking-Long-Stride-Lunge” is very popular amongst Sculptors.

(4) Direction of Step: Front, Side, Rear, Crossover Front and Crossover Rear are the five most frequently used exercises in the Lunge. The Gluteus Medius and Tensor Fascia Latae are activated in ‘Side-Lunges.” In order to create your own “Masterpiece” these muscles must be exercised.

(5) Intensity: Master Sculptors must be aware of the different fiber types that make up each individual fiber. The Hamstrings (Biceps Femoris, Semimembranosus and Semitendinosus) are made up of a high percentage of Fast Twitch muscle fiber and therefore require high-intensity exercise (6-10RM sets). By comparison, the Calf (Gastrocnemius and Soleus) is made up of a high percentage of Slow Twitch muscle fiber and therefore requires low intensity exercise (15, 20, 30, 50, 100 Reps to a set).

(6) Proper Technique: If you really, truly wish to be a Master Sculptor you must learn the proper technique, along with the benefits and risks associated with each technique, the muscles activated with each technique and your reason for performing each technique.

If you are a math wiz, you have probably already calculated that the variations listed above equal 270 different ways to do the Lunge. How many do you do? Are you sure you are doing them right? Are you getting the maximum benefit for the minimum risk of each exercise?

The SAFEST position is the Stationary Front Lunge (eyes focused on one spot), medium step (do not exceed Knee-Toe-Line or Knee-Hip-Line, rear knee under hip, front knee over toes). This position places stress on gluteals and quadriceps.

The Short-Step-Front-Lunge (front knee exceeds Knee-Toe-Line), takes some stress off the gluteals and increases stress on quadriceps, but also increases stress on the knee joint capsule (as a result of exceeding Knee-Toe-Line).

The Long-Step-Front-Lunge increases stress on the gluteals and hamstrings, but increases stress on the sacroiliac joint (one ilium moves forward with the front leg, while simultaneously, the other ilium moves backward with the rear leg). This position is NOT RECOMMENDED for beginners, anyone with sacroiliac dysfunction or anyone with limited range-of-motion (ROM). Limits in ROM are a result of lack of flexibility and must be corrected first before increasing ROM in strength movements.

You can increase your ROM by doing your Flexibility Exercises at the end of your workout as part of your COOL-DOWN. Make sure you follow all the Rules for Stretching as specified in your IFPA Training Manual: THE BOOK ON PERSONAL TRAINING!

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