Doctor's Review: Medicine on the Move

October 17, 2017
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The world's most underrated exercise

Use the dumbbell side lunge to shore up your weak spots and improve your flexibility

When it comes to lunges, do you have a one-track mind? If you only perform the exercise by stepping forward and backward, the answer is yes. And that's too bad because side lunges -- that's right, lunging to the side -- may be one of the best movements you can do for your lower body.

The reason: Side lunges work the muscles of your hips and thighs from an all-new angle. This, of course, can spark muscle growth, as well as improve the stability of your knees -- lowering your risk of injury.

Now, the side lunge doesn't look that challenging, but if you haven't tried it before, you may be surprised at how difficult it is to perform with proper form. (Hint: Most people do this exercise wrong.)

Chances are, you'll only need a light pair of dumbbells -- or even just your body-weight -- to perform an intense set of 10 repetitions. Ready to try it? Just use the instructions that follow.

Grab a pair of dumbbells and hold them at arm's length next to your sides, your palms facing each together. Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart and pointed straight ahead. Lift your right foot and take a big step to your right as you push your hips backward and lower your body by dropping your hips and bending your knees. Push yourself back up to the starting position as quickly as you can. Your lower right leg should remain nearly perpendicular to the floor. Your left foot should remain flat on the floor. Try to lower your body until your right thigh is parallel to the floor. Do all your reps with your right leg, then perform the movement by lunging with your left leg.

Use this move in your workout Try doing two to three sets of 8 to 10 repetitions, with 90 seconds of rest between each set. One mistake most people make: They don't push their hips back as they lower their body. So really focus on that, and be sure to keep your lower back naturally arched as you perform the movement. (Read: Don't allow your lower back to round.)

While lunges are typically thought ofas a quadriceps exercise, you'll find this exercise also hits your glutes, a muscle that's weak in most people.

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