Lunges are often considered to be one of the best lower body exercises. The side lunge can effectively strengthen and tone muscles in your glutes, thighs and hips. This exercise is effective because it works so many muscle groups at one time. The more muscles you use, the more calories you burn.
How to Perform the Perfect Side Lunge
To begin, stand with your hands on your hips with your feet hip-width apart. Lunge out to your right with your right leg. You want to land with your heel first followed by your forefoot. Flex your right knee and hip to lower your body. Your right knee and hip should be at a 90-degree angle. Your left leg should be at a slight angle.
To return to standing, extend your right hip and knee until they are straight and you return to the starting position. Repeat on your left side with your left leg to complete one repetition.
When performing this exercise, make sure that you keep your torso upright and abdominal muscles engaged. Pay attention to your lead knee; you want it to travel in the same direction that your toes are pointed. Be sure to double check your knees to ensure they never go past your toes.
What Muscle Groups Are Used
The side lunge is a relatively intense exercise that focuses on the gluteus maximus. This is done through the push movement and it involves more than one joint—the joints of your hips and knees. Longer lunges have a greater emphasis on the glutes. Shorter lunges emphasize the quadriceps. Other muscles that are engaged during the side lunge are the adductors, soleus, hamstring, obliques and gastrocnemius.
Making it Harder
To increase the challenge of the side lunge, you can add dumbbells or a barbell. Begin by holding the weights at hip or waist level. If you want to challenge yourself further, hold these weights at shoulder height or above your head.