Time to talk about knee-dominant exercises aka squats, lunges and all of the many variations. These exercises are part of the fundamentals of movement. Whether you’re after those gainz in the squat rack, sweating it out in a group fitness class, or just taking the stairs. We often don’t realize how often we are doing squats and lunges throughout our day, so having proper alignment and awareness as we perform these movements will make life smoother and keep us moving longer.
Let’s talk about those glutes…they are the powerhouse to these movements. While the quads and other surrounding muscles are working in these exercises, glute activation is crucial. I’d recommend waking up those glutes before performing these knee-dominant exercises.
Mini band walks and hip bridges are my go-to’s for this purpose. Feel free to explore variations of these or any other way you like to get your glutes fired up and ready to work!
Tight hips don’t lie! If your hips are tight, painful, and/or immobile, you might find that squats and lunges don’t feel that great. Try foam rolling your quads and hips before starting a workout. A few light stretches like leg swings, or the couch stretch will help your hips/legs move the way they really want to!
If you have unhappy knees, seek out help from a professional to check out your movement pattern and help you correct any dysfunction that could be leading to the pain.
Now that we’ve talked about prerequisites a little bit…squats and lunges!! What are we looking for in these exercises?
-upper body posture is tall & relaxed
-core is braced and on
-weight is shifted towards your heels
-knees are bent at about a 90 degree angle at the bottom position
-feeling the work in glutes and quads
During your workouts, it’s great to incorporate a combination of squats and lunges to keep the balance between bilateral and unilateral for improved balance, coordination and strength.
A “leg day” workout might look something like this:
Core & glute activation
20 alternating steps ups (with or without load)
3 x 12 goblet squats
3 x 1:00 hand plank
3 x 20 alternating reverse lunges (with or without load)
3 x :30 side planks
3 x 12 squat thrusters
3 x 12 lateral lunges
3 x :45 slow mountain climbers
15-30 minutes cardio
5-10 minutes stretch
BOOM. Super simple, but effective workout. Pick weights that push you to burn and feel challenged after each set.
If you’re unsure of any of these exercises or need assistance, I recommend finding a fitness professional to ask for help- not YouTube. A human eye is better than someone that doesn’t know you or how you move.
#funtfact: The smell of chocolate increases theta brain waves, which triggers relaxation.