My Favorite Leg Exercise With a Twist
I am a huge fan of walking lunges. In fact, if you have read my blog for awhile, you might remember a previous post where I called them my favorite lower body exercise. Nothing has changed there. They are still my favorite. I just think if you looking for a good bang for your buck lower body exercise, you can’t beat them. It works the quads, glutes, and hamstrings all at once while also improving balance and coordination. If you do them holding dumbells, you get the added benefit of upper back, trap, and grip work too. Can’t beat that. Well, maybe you can.
I digress. Anywho, the one problem I see at times, however, is that people have a tendancy to lean way forward while they are doing them, especially when the weight gets heavier. I actually don’t have a problem with a slight forward lean (as long you are not loading them with a barbell on your back, which would put your lower back in a precarious position). In fact, I think a slight forward lean may actually be a good thing in some circumstances because it leads to more glute recruitment. The problem, however, is that many people overdo the forward lean in an attempt to use more weight, and in so doing, change the entire dynamic of the exercise and make it more dangerous to the lower back and knees. This is where “1.5” reps come into play.
1.5 reps are just like it sounds. One full rep plus one half rep equals one “1.5” rep. I am not sure where this technique originated, but I learned about it from Charles Poloquin and Joe Defranco. I have used it quite a bit with inverted rows, chinups, rear foot elevated split squats (aka. Speed Skater spilt squats a la Joe Defranco) and I love it. I decided to try it with walking lunges, and it made me like my favorite lower body exercise even more.
Here’s why I like it:
1. It keeps you honest. First off, you have to use a controlled tempo to be execute the 1.5 rep technique properly. Secondly, it keeps your posture in check and prevents you from leaning too far forward. Just get up from your computer right now and try to perform a 1.5 lunge with a big torso lean. You can’t. The only way it works is to stay upright.
2. It works the heck out the glutes, VMO, and hip stabilizers as they go into overdrive to help you stay balanced and keep your knee from going into valgus.
3. There is great time under tension, which is great if you want to pack on some muscle onto your thighs.
4. It’s harder. This is great for people looking for a challenge, and can also be great for people that may have maxed out the dumbells in their gym using the regular technique. For people with back issues, I do not like the idea of using a barbell for loading, so this is a way to get more out the dumbells.
I could go on, but I think you get the idea. This one’s great, though your quads and butt may disagree with me. Try it out for yourself and see how you like it. I warn you though, it’s brutal. Check it out. Here I am doing them with my good friend Kevin Larrabee using 280 pounds for “7” reps.