Can’t Find Your Perfect Balance? Tips for Mastering Lunges!

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Last updated on March 11th, 2024 at 11:32 am

The most common reason you can’t balance when doing lunges is because you haven’t engaged your core. You provide the body (as a whole) additional stability by doing this. An inability to balance during lunges could also point to a muscle weakness, most specifically the gluteus medius, or the transverse abdominals, or even both.

Ensure You Keep Your Core Tight

Stuart McGill, PhD - Spine Biomechanics Expert: "The core is the foundation of all movement. Without a stable core, you cannot transfer force effectively and put yourself at risk for injury."

Regardless of the exercise, I always feel that you should engage your core when performing any movement.

In fact, I’ll go as far to say that many of us could have a much better looking midsection (without the need for ab-specific exercises) if we kept our core tight during every exercise.

This is even a great way to avoid injury with a wide variety of movements.

Keeping your core tight is probably even more important whenever you perform single-limb exercises, whether using your arms or legs.

Basically, you will have some form of instability whenever you do a single-limb exercise

So, even though lunges are predominantly a leg exercise, your core is also getting a pretty good workout.

Therefore, by activating and tightening your core during lunges you will in effect be providing more stability to the movement.

You Have Weak Gluteus Medius Muscles

Muscle weaknesses can often impact your balance during lunges.

One of the major muscles that can affect your lunge form is the gluteus medius.

The gluteus medius is located in the posterior hip and on the outer surface of the pelvis.

It’s primary function is during hip abduction, while it also has a role in rotation and flexion of the hip joint.

You may initially think that there isn’t much in the way of hip flexion, rotation, and abduction during lunges.

However, the gluteus medius definitely plays an important part during lunges.

Basically, the gluteus medius prevents the opposite side of the pelvis (to the leg bearing the weight) from dropping.

So, if a weakness in this area is forcing one side of the pelvis to drop it’s easier to understand why balance is such an issue.

The exact same principle is applied whenever you walk or run.

The gluteus medius also happens to be a muscle that doesn’t get much of a look in unless you specifically target it.

One of my favourite ways to activate and strengthen the gluteus medius muscles is by placing a band around my ankles, sidestepping for a few reps, and returning back again.

With that being said, this will only specifically work the hip abduction side of things.

You Have Weak Transverse Abdominal Muscles

Another potential muscle weakness that can affect your balance during lunges is the Transverse Abdominals (TVA).

The transverse abdominals happen to be one of the core muscles.

However, they probably don’t get as much attention as the “sexier” rectus abdominis, which are the visible ab muscles that form the “six-pack”.

The transverse abdominals is a layer of muscle on the front and side of the abdominal wall.

But, they are deep inside the abdominal wall and layered below the internal oblique muscle.

I guess as they’re not such a “show” muscle as the rectus abdominis they sometimes get left behind.

And this of course can lead to a specific weakness in this area.

Personally, I like to activate the TVA as part of my warm-up routine.

And I do this irrespective of the exercises or body parts that I’m training.

I personally believe that just about every exercise you ever perform originates from the core.

So, it makes perfect sense to have strong core muscles.

This of course also includes the transverse abdominals.

Check Your Lunge Form

The lunge may well be a fantastic exercise, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t regularly massacred by many.

There are a number of extremely common mistakes made with the lunge.

Firstly, there is the problem of not aligning the ankles with hips and knees.

Basically, you’ll often see people performing a standard forward lunge, but their front foot goes out at an angle.

This means that the knee isn’t directly over the ankle

Plus, this also means that the back leg is almost twisted to compensate, and the hip isn’t directly over the knee.

Something else that affects balance during a lunge is taking too far a step forward.

You see this literally everywhere you go.

For some reason it seems that people equate a longer step meaning the exercise is now more effective.

However, it is actually the complete opposite.

The further you lunge forward, the less distance your back knee has to travel towards the ground.

So, you’re actually reducing the range of motion of the back leg, thus making the exercise less effective.

That said, I personally don’t believe that your back knee should actually touch the ground during lunges.

Bret Contreras, Strength Coach: "Lunges are a fantastic unilateral exercise that challenges core stability, hip mobility, and lower body strength. They can be a great addition to almost any lower body workout."

I will also say that when performing lunges your eyes should remain staring at a fixed-point ahead of you throughout the movement.

Many people have a tendency to watch their feet or their eyes are darting around throughout the entire set.

This can definitely cause further instability during lunges.

So keep your eyes fixed firmly ahead throughout your entire set.

You can also add trying to do lunges too fast to the list.

The vast majority of exercises, whether performed with weights or your own body weight, should be done in a slow and controlled manner.

Yes, there are exceptions to the rule, but in the main just slow it down when doing lunges.

Try Lunge Variations

If I’m being completely honest I never actually perform what is typically viewed as the standard lunge.

I guess the forward lunge is what the vast majority of the people do.

However, for me, this puts a great deal of stress on the front knee.

Plus, there is a tendency to have a jerky movement when pushing back.

Once again, more stress on the knee.

I’m just not a fan of the forward lunge.

I always perform the reverse lunge as my “standard” lunge.

With that being said, there is so much variety when it comes to lunges, I just don’t think you should limit yourself to one.

Eric Cressey, Sports Performance Expert: "The lunge is a fundamental lower body exercise that can be used to train a variety of qualities, from strength and power to hypertrophy and stability."

Plus, if I am going to forward lunge I much prefer walking lunges.

Definitely better for strength, muscle, and fat-burning in my mind.

I would even put side lunges way ahead of the standard forward lunge.

Okay, if you have specific weaknesses in the gluteus medius and transverse abdominals then balance could still be a problem.

However, you will be working these muscles a lot better with a bit of lunge variety.

Key Learning Points

  • Always ensure your core is activated when performing lunges as this will help with balance.
  • The gluteus medius is often a reason for poor balance.
  • The same can be said for the transverse abdominals.
  • So, hopefully you have a better understanding of why you can’t balance during lunges.
  • Ensure your lunge form is correcct, such as your front knee going directly over your toes, while your back hip should in line with your back knee.
  • Find your perfect lunge stride length, as many people believe an excessive stride means a better lunge. It does not.
  • Don’t use the traditional forward lunge all the time and try variations, with different equipment too.

Next, check out my comparison of barbell lunges vs. dumbbell lunges to detrmine which is best for you and your body.

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