Before you focus on doing these for conditioning purposes, you need to make sure that you are able to maintain proper form at ALL times, and are not just focusing on making yourself tired. Do not allow your form to get sloppy as this will negate the effectiveness of this exercise.
While yes this is a technical explanation, form matters. If you struggle to perform this variation, start out by performing split squats. Then master the reverse lunge. Then progress to the forward lunge. And lastly, learn the forward/reverse lunge variation.
- Your working leg should be doing as close to 100% of the work as possible. When you are performing the forward lunge, don't cheat and push off with your back leg, and when you are performing the reverse lunge, don't transfer your weight onto your back leg. Lightly brush the floor with your back foot.
- Have a very slight forward lean in your torso (versus being totally upright). This is a much more athletic stance. If you want to target your posterior chain muscles more, lean forward a bit more (don't overdo it) and take slightly larger strides. The stance I am using is more quad dominant, but is also torching my glutes.
- Before each lunge, take a deep breath in through your nose (360 degrees of air around your spine), brace your core (pretend you are about to get punched in the stomach), and tuck your ribcage towards your hips.
- Once you have lunged and your foot has planted on the floor, your body should travel straight down and in a vertical path. Do not allow your body to continue to travel in a horizontal path. This is a sign that the muscles in your lower body, glutes, and core are not doing their job.
- Make sure you keep your hips forward, and don't allow them to shift back. For instance, during the forward lunge, many people position their hips so they are too far back as 1) they have fallen for the outdated myth that the knee shouldn't come over the toes (or anywhere near them), or 2) they are unintentionally ''cheating'' and are trying to unload the quad and glute of the working leg. I find that this is actually when many people complain about knee pain. With the reverse lunge, many people shift their hips posteriorly as they are inadvertently ''cheating'' and are transferring their weight to their back/non-working leg, instead of allowing their front/working leg to do the bulk of the work. Do not make this mistake. It will cost you gains in strength, muscle development, and stability.
- It is crucial that you do not allow your lower back to hyperextend or ribcage to flare. Your head, torso and hips should remain in a stacked position.
- Do not allow your knee to collapse in or fall outside of your foot.
- The foot of your working/planted leg should be in a tripod position. Meaning, the weight should be on the mid/back of your foot, and all of your toes should be in contact with the ground, especially your big and baby toe.
- Keep your arms rigid and drive them into your sides. Pretend that you are crushing something in your armpits. This will help keep your torso and upper body in a stable position.
- Exhale after you have initiated the lunge. ''Reset'' the inhale, brace/rib tuck before you descend into each lunge so your body is stable and ready to go.