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The front lunge is an exercise suitable for intermediate and up exercisers who have the strong abdominal muscles needed to correctly perform the exercise. Although the major movements are in the legs, a lunge works several muscle groups at once, including the abdominals. Correctly performing the lunge can strengthen your legs, butt and stomach muscles. Always check with your physician before beginning a resistance-training program to ensure your body is healthy enough to safely perform the exercise.
You perform the forward lunge by taking a wide step forward. Your front leg is bent at a 90-degree angle with your foot flat on the floor. The knee should not extend over your ankle, but instead be aligned with your lower leg. Your back leg also is at a 90-degree angle with only your toes on the ground. Your back should be kept straight or you may wish to lean slightly forward, particularly if you are holding dumbbells to increase the exercise's intensity. Push off the front foot to return to your starting position, repeat as desired and switch to repeat the exercise on your other leg.
Major Muscles Worked
Several major muscle groups are exercised while performing the forward lunge. This includes the abdominal muscles and the oblique muscles on the sides of your stomach. Both your gluteus maximus or buttocks and gluteus minimus on the outside of your buttocks work during the lunge as well. A lunge also works the quadriceps muscles on the front of your thighs and the hamstring muscles on the back of your legs.
Secondary Muscles Worked
A second set of muscle groups works to provide stability and support to the primary muscles worked while lunging. This includes the soleus and gastrocnemius muscles that comprise the calf, which are used when you push off with your front foot to return to your starting position for the lunge. You also use your erector spinae or postural muscles in your back during the lunge, which help you keep your back straight as you lunge.
Variations on the lunge can help to increase its difficulty or utilize other muscle groups. For example, holding a pair of dumbbells while lunging increases the exercise's intensity and also works the trapezius muscles and lower and levator scapulae muscles of your shoulder blades. You also can perform bicep curls or shoulder presses during the lunge, which works different arm muscles as well. Lunges also can be performed in different directions, such as the sides and backward to concentrate on different muscles in the legs.