by Sally Whitaker
Squats and lunges often elicit moans and groans from fitness classes. They can be challenging, but should never be painful. Nearly all fitness programs involve some sort of squat or lunge, from weight lifting to yoga to martial arts.
Benefits include increasing total body strength, improved circulation and posture, better balance and mobility, as well as toning the legs, rear, and core muscles. Proper form is key to making these movements beneficial.
Use the tips below to perfect your form, whether for a current activity or to add a bit of a workout to your day. Go slow with the movement to perfect your form. To make this into a workout perform 5-15 repetitions of each, squat, lunge with right leg forward, lunge with left leg forward.
Stand with feet hip-width apart, toes pointing forward. Stick your rear out and act like you are sitting down into a chair 5 feet behind you. You can raise your arms in front for leverage if you would like.
When you glance down at your feet you should be able to see your toes in front of your knees. If you can’t, stick your rear out more.
Shoulders should be relaxed, not hunched.
Toes, knees, hip bones should be facing forward.
Step one leg behind, one leg in front. Far enough apart that your back heel is elevated. Torso, arms, and feet all face forward.
The front knee should be directly above the ankle, and when you look at the front foot you should be able to see the big toe and the next couple toes on the inside of the knee. Shift your weight behind you, and as you bend your knees think of the back knee cap being drawn directly to the floor, or “stamping” the floor.
Front knee should stay over or behind the ankle, do not let your weight shift forward.
Core should be engaged, think of lifting your ribs away from your hips.
You should consult your physician or other health care professional before starting this or any other fitness program to determine if it is right for your needs.
Do not start this fitness program if your physician or health care provider advises against it. If you experience faintness, dizziness, pain or shortness of breath at any time while exercising you should stop immediately.
Sally Whitaker is a Pilates and Yoga instructor with 15 years of experience teaching group classes and private clientele, primarily in Independence, MO. During the summer months you can find her teaching Sunset Yoga at Armstrong Park in Grain Valley.
Sally Whitaker, Pilates and Yoga Instructor, demonstrates the proper form for a squat (above) and the proper form for a lunge (below). Photo credit: Sally Whitaker
During the summer months, you can find Whitaker teaching at Sunset Yoga at Armstrong Park in Grain Valley.