Lunge Your Way To The Top

Written by Becky

When you break down the movement of walking it really is a series of single leg balancing followed by another in a forward motion. The purpose of a strength program for hiking is to train your muscles for the specific movements that you will find out on the trail. Walking in a unilateral movement and requires strength and balance in both the left and the right feet, ankles, knees, and hips. Unilateral movement is movement that is produced by one limb at a time while bilateral movement is produced with with two limbs working together. Therefore,  if you want to train for hiking you need to strength train with unilateral movements. The split-squat is an example of a unilateral movement that is important for hikers and is an excellent body weight exercise to strengthen your legs.

The split-squat, also commonly known as the lunge is done with one foot in front of the other in a split stance. With this stance the loads on each leg are not the same during the movement as is the case in a squat. The squat is performed with both feet about hip width apart on the floor and both legs engaged to push the body up. The stance of a split-squat requires a different movement pattern and requires more balance control than a squat which help you out on rough terrain. (Check out the blog on Balance and Stability for more details). During a lunge the muscles targeted are your quadriceps, glutes and hamstrings. That being said there are numerous variations of the lunge that can be done to encourage more involvement of the abdominal muscles and upper body by adding weights to the exercise. This week’s video outlines how to properly perform the basic stationary split-squat as well as two advanced variations to try that I really recommend for advanced hikers. Add the split-squat into your workout and lunge your way to the top of that next mountain!


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