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Are Your Lunges Killing Your Knees?

The lunge is a great single leg exercise that is beneficial to people at all levels of fitness. Whether you’re a novice trainee, or a well-seasoned fitness buff the lunge can be tailored to help you get the most out of the exercise.

Proper execution of the lunge strengthens your hip and core musculature, while allowing you to focus on one leg at a time. Single leg exercises are a critical addition to your training program, as many of our daily activities and sporting events utilize single leg stances – which is why incorporating the lunge into your regular fitness regime will have a positive effect on your body.

Despite its benefits however, the lunge is plagued by the common misconception that it should not be performed if you have knee pain. As it’s believed that it will aggravate your knees more.

This misconception is 100% WRONG. Lunges don’t cause knee pain. The way you lunge is what is causing you pain. At BIM, the lunge is incorporated into 99% of our client’s programs – even those who have come to BIM in order to deal with their ongoing knee pain.

Typically we teach a lunge pattern in 2 ways:

    • A ½ step-up pattern, or…


    • A reverse slide lunge


Both versions teach you how to pull yourself up by pressing through the heel of your working leg—which should always be the front leg. When done properly reverse lunges allow for proper load sharing of your quad, hamstring, and gluteal muscles – which in turn results in the proper development of the muscles surrounding your knee, as well as the muscles used to stabilize your hips.

This is why lunges are an essential component to rehab and strength programs alike.

The video below explains how to complete a reverse-style lunge while also outlining a few common errors.


Key points

  • Make sure you don’t over or under stride. Generally a 90-degree angle at both knees will suffice.
  • Your front knee must stay in line with your middle toe and should not collapse inward. If you are struggling with this pay attention to the weight distribution in your foot – your weight should be primarily in your heel with your big toe firmly planted.
  • Keep your core tight and sit into your front hip – your shoulders should stay overtop of your front heel. Often people tend to lean back to stay excessively upright. Avoid doing this as it will cause unnecessary pressure in your knee because it encourages quad dominance.
  • Your front leg is the working leg. Press through your heel to stand tall rather than push off with your back foot. Concentrate on squeezing your glute until you have fully straightened your leg

Recommended SETS X REPS for reverse slide lunges: 3×10 per side.

  • When executing this lunge try to make sure that you descend with control and come up with purpose. Your tempo should be 3:1:1
  • You don’t need a special glider to do slide lunges. Instead just stand on a small towel or paper plate


Next time you do a lunge pay extra attention to how you are doing it. If something doesn’t feel right, let us know – especially if you are experiencing pain. We are here to help. 🙂

Here’s to effective lunging!



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About the author

Andrea Lawson has been a practicing Kinesiologist since 2008 and is the founder of Balance in Motion, a training facility created for people to rehabilitate from injuries, improve athletic performance, and crush their health and fitness goals. She is passionate about providing a space where anyone can step foot in and feel both comfortable and productive no matter the injury, age, or stage they may be at in their fitness journey. With this vision, Andrea has witnessed her clients achieve goals they never thought possible, and gain unmatched levels of confidence in themselves, helping them to Go Beyond Better.