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What it’s good for Strengthens all the big muscles of the legs and but­tocks. Especially good for knee con­di­tion­ing. Everyday bene­fits include:

  • Lowering down to pick some­thing up off the floor
  • Kneeling down to fasten shoes
  • Doing an emer­gency stop to pre­vent a trip turn­ing into a fall
  • Getting safely down to and up from the floor
How often to do it Daily
Equipment you’ll need A chair-​back for bal­ance sup­port

Standomg with rear leg up on toe, ready to start lungeStanding with back knee dropped down into lunge

  • Stand side-​on to a chair-​back for bal­ance sup­port, with feet hip-​distance apart
  • Take a long step for­wards with the leg farthest from chair, tak­ing your body for­wards with you but stop­ping just before your back foot lifts
  • Now your back heel should have lif­ted off, so that just your fore­foot and toes are still on the ground
  • Steady your­self, look­ing straight ahead, and start to dip your back knee down gently, as though curt­sey­ing or receiv­ing a knight­hood
  • Hold steady with in that bent knee pos­i­tion for a count of 3
  • Straighten your back leg, keep­ing your heel off the ground and your body­weight for­wards
  • When the leg is straight, pre­pare to lower the back knee again for your next repeat
  • After your final repeat, push strongly off your front foot, back to your start­ing pos­i­tion

Aim for 12 repeats without stop­ping. Complete all repeats on one leg, then swap chair pos­i­tion and start over with the other leg for­wards.

♦ The chair-​back is for light touch sup­port to help you bal­ance, so avoid grip­ping or lean­ing on it
♦ Do not nar­row your base of sup­port as you step for­wards. Imagine each foot stays on its own rail­way track. This will help you feel more bal­anced and stable
♦ Think “chest over toes”, so your weight stays for­wards over your front leg through­out
♦ Check that your front hips and shoulders stay level and square to the front, not twist­ing or tip­ping
♦ Keep breath­ing!

Cannot do this at all? Try Sit and stand leg strengthener instead. If your knees are the prob­lem, get going on the knee strengthen­ers

Varying the exer­cise for more chal­lenge

Once you can do 12 good qual­ity squats, you need to make the exer­cise harder to carry on strength­en­ing. Try the pro­gres­sions below.

The pro­gres­sions

1. Longer holds
Hold the lunge pos­i­tion for 5 seconds each time

2. Reduce bal­ance sup­port
Hover your hand above the chair-​back, so you have to work harder to con­trol your bal­ance. When you get good, keep arms down by your sides, so you have no bal­ance sup­port

3. Deeper lunges
Dip the back knee just a frac­tion lower. Caution! If you have dodgy knees, skip this pro­gres­sion

4. Drop & stop lunges

  • From your start pos­i­tion, step your front foot with greater impact, push­ing down into the ground, but then stop­ping your­self at the last moment, hold­ing steady in bal­ance. This “drop­ping” step is pretty much the same as if you’d done an instinct­ive step for­wards after trip­ping over a raised pav­ing stone — it’s the bra­cing pos­i­tion that we use to stop ourselves top­pling for­wards to the ground
  • As soon as you are steady in lunge pos­i­tion, push strongly back­wards off your front leg, back to your ori­ginal pos­i­tion. Your feet should end up exactly where they star­ted, hip-​width apart
  • Repeat, this time stepping/​dropping the other leg for­wards

Both legs = 1 repeat. Build up to 12 repeats

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