Multi-Directional Lunge Variations
I’ve previously posted about the benefits of multiplanar strength exercises for runners, triathletes and others like us who engage in linear running activities.
As distance runners, we spend a lot of time moving in straight lines, with even the action of running itself being a very repetitive largely linear movement.
I guess that’s why so many of us fall in to the trap of replicating this linear motion with the exercises we do to strengthen our bodies to stand up to the demands of running. Lots of squats, step-ups and other forward and backward motions. Motions we’d refer to as being in the sagittal plane.
Now when you break the action of running down a little further, it becomes clear to see that there’s not just lots of back-and-forth motion going on, but also lots of rotation and lateral (side-to-side) motion also.
In fact, at every joint, there’s movement going-on in all three planes of motion.
Think of this way, the stronger you become in the frontal and transverse planes of motion – movements occurring side to side and into rotation – the better you can focus your running efforts on moving forwards efficiently.
That’s why we need to make sure that we strength the body in all planes of motion also.
A great place to start with this is at the hip, and I want to quickly show you two exercises to help you become stronger in both these side-to-side and rotational movements.
The first of the two exercises featured in the video above, the lateral lunge, often highlights just how tight many runners are through the adductor muscles of the inner thigh, so take it gently to begin with.
Begin standing tall with your feet much wider than shoulder width apart, and toes slightly pointed out.
From there keep one knee straight and flex the other, as you shift your bodyweight across and down towards the same side as the bent knee.
Sit back into the movement, and keep your torso relatively upright.
When you’re as low as you can comfortably go, push yourself back up to the start position in one powerful movement.
Remember you’re a runner – not a dancer – I don’t need you to be able to do the splits, but we are going to work though the range of motion you have available.
You should aim for three sets of 10-15 on each side, 4 or 5 times per week.
The lateral lunge is a great exercise for working your lateral quads and glutes on the bending leg, and adductors on the straight leg.
This next exercise is a cross-over lunge and is brilliant for challenging your glutes in the transverse and frontal planes.
From a standing position, reach one foot back and across your body as you bend both knees. Be sure to reach way back and across at roughly 45 degrees, almost like you’re doing a giant curtsy, which is why you’ll sometimes see these referred to as curtsy lunges!
As you reach back and across, the hip on your front leg is being loaded into adduction and internal rotation, which the glutes have to work hard to pull you out of as you down down with the front leg and stand up tall, returning to the start position.
I usually get runners performing cross-over lunges on alternating legs, but you can also do a set on one leg then the other. The choice is yours!
Maintain a relatively upright torso throughout the exercise and remember to breathe out as you push your self back to the start position of this cross-over lunge.
As with any exercise, make sure you focus on form primarily, and stop if you feel any pain.
Let me know in the comments how you get on with these two simple but effective exercises.