TRUTH About the Lunge with Twist exercise – Lunge with Rotation

I’ve found that becoming a more effective trainer is not just about constantly adding in new concepts and techniques. It’s also about taking certain things out of your program as you discover they may not be as safe or as effective as you previously thought.

Such as the case in today’s post in regards to doing the Lunge with Rotation exercise.

 “It’s not the daily increase, but the daily decrease. Hack away the unessential” Bruce Lee

The TRUTH About the Lunge with Twist

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Although the Lunge with twist exercise looks cool. It may put unwanted stress on your lumbar spine when you use a heavier load (like a dumbbell or weight plate) to perform it.

Famous physical therapist Carl DeRosa does a great job of simply explaining why the lunge with twist (along with a heavier load) may not be a safe exercise option in this video, which I recored at the 2010 Northeast Seminars Spine Symposium.

As Carl DeRossa described – The concept of splitting your stance (like in the lunge or 1/2 kneeling position) actually “locks down your hips”, which prevents them from working properly to protect your lumbar spine when you rotate your  torso under load.

Now, it’s one thing to do this in a low load situation to improve mobility – Like we do in the Yoga-Plex, or as displayed by the girl in the picture above. But, when you add a heavy (or fast) rotary action (like throwing a medicine ball or holding a heavy weight) – We believe (along with Carl DeRosa) that it could be more risky than beneficial.

This is the precise reason why at Performance U – We also DON’T use 1/2 Kneeling Rotary Medicine Ball Throws, which I covered in this post.

Lunge with a Hip Hinge – Leaning Lunges

Also in the video, Carl DeRosa and an audience member discussed using a forward hip hinge while doing the lunge exercise.

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At Performance U – We call these Anterior Reaching lunges or Anterior Leaning Lunges.

We like this lunge variation because it brings in more glutes and, because of that, it’s easier on the knees than the traditional versions with an upright torso.

My great friend and Super-Trainer Bret Contreras (who I’ve quoted below) had some fantastic comments about Research on Lunge Variations, Leaning Lunges vs. Upright Lunges and programming various lunges for different individual needs in this post.

“I once had some strength coaches come after me on a message board after I posted a video of one of my clients using a forward lean while they lunged. Their position was that lunges must be performed with an upright trunk. My position was that it’s okay to vary, especially when it leads to increased glute activity. Sometimes I have my clients perform lunges in a more upright manner, while other times I have them do them with more of a lean. In a study entitled Trunk position influences the kinematics, kinetics, and muscle activity of the lead lower extremity during the forward lunge exercise, researchers showed that performing a lunge with the trunk forward increased the hip extensor impulse and the recruitment of the hip extensors. In contrast, performing a forward lunge with the trunk extended did not alter joint impulse or activation of the lower extremity musculature.”

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Speaking of Bret Contreras and Research on Training – Go here to get your FREE copy of the 1st issue of  Strength and Conditioning Research, which is Bret’s new monthly research review service.

This awesome product provides you with a monthly summary of all the most exciting research in the fields of Strength and Conditioning, Biomechanics, Physiology and Physical Therapy.

You can see a free extract from our first issue here or just go straight ahead to sign up for the publication here.


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