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Why The Multi-Direction Lunge Is So Good For Your Hips

Written by: Nick Jack
Category: 2014
on 19 April 2018
Hits: 6446

Of all the leg exercises you can use in the gym, the Multi Direction Lunge is right up there as one of my "go to" exercises for it does so many remarkable things for your body. The lunge itself is a great exercise in it's own right, but the multi direction lunge takes the benefits to a whole new level which we will explain in great detail in this article. The Lunge is one of our 7 key movement patterns needed for optimal movement, and is arguably the most difficult & most athletic movement and is a key movement needed for anyone playing sports. It also is one of the most difficult to learn. Our sedentary lifestyle where we sit for long hours creates extremely tight hip flexors, which are not a good thing when doing the lunge. The lunge requires great flexibility through the hips and quads while at the same time demanding incredible strength through the core and the glutes. It is for this reason we love the lunge so much for most people are weak in these areas. The multi lunge has a few extra characteristics to it that provides you with some great building blocks for other movements. Let's look how this works.

How To Do The Multi Direction Lunge

Below is a great video showing you how this works. 

 

Instructions:

1. Each leg will be lunging in 5 different directions with good posture and facing the front.
2. Front lunge step forward and your back knee should just touch the ground.
3. Front 45° angle lunge step with your head and eyes facing forward and your pelvis and shoulders square to the front allow the back leg to pivot naturally as you lower into the lunge.
4. Lateral lunge step out to the side as per previous exercise.
5. Back 45° lunge step back and lower the back knee until it just touches the ground.
6. Back lunge step backwards

But why is this particular exercise so great? What are these unique characteristics I mentioned earlier?

1: Core Development

The first thing this exercise provides is the ability to "switch on" the core!

The Lunge is the most critical movement needed to develop core strength for it is the key pattern for activating what is known as The Slings Of The Body. Our body is made up with a complex system made up of many chains, which are also known as slings. These slings, when they are working well, help us move efficiently, produce more force, and create more speed. They are what provide our ability to throw a ball, to walk, run or simply move forwards, backwards and sideways. Deadlifts and squats are great exercises for picking things up or jumping, but they are not forward or backward motion based movements. You need the lunge for this.

There is 4 slings that are known as the:

  1. Anterior Sling
  2. Posterior Sling
  3. Lateral Sling
  4. Deep Longitudinal Sling

The split stance or lunge position is needed in every one of these slings. Watch the video below to see examples of each of these slings in action and how often the lunge stance is used in each.

 

2: Hip Mobility

As much as core development is impressive probably the biggest factor in the reason why I love this exercise so much is what it does for your hips. Hip mobility is a real big problem for so many people these days as we are subjected to way too much sitting, poor training techniques and a host of other problems. Lack of hip mobility is linked heavily to lower back pain and also knee pain which are two of the most common injuries to the general population.

 

Read this article to see more on why this happens - Are Your Tight Hips Causing Your Back & Knee Pain?

If it is a mobility problem then why not just use stretching or do Yoga a few times a week to get it back? This is the approach many take for it seems to make logical sense. The problem with this is it only addresses half of the problem. In many cases the reason it is stiff is also due to weakness at the glutes and the inability of the pelvis to stabilize itself.

The stiffness of the hips is the body's attempt at restoring the lost stability of this ball and socket joint. By trying to stretch it more you simply make the joint weaker, resulting in more stiffness when you stand up as you need stability first. You will regularly see a real stiffness with internal rotation of the hip,  as the hip flexors and adductors go into overworking mode, and the exact opposite of a weakness with external rotation of the hip due to the glutes becoming lazy and weak. This is where the chain reaction of potential problems is born.

This is where the multi lunge is so great for it not only addresses the stiffness at the hip flexors and adductors but at the same time demands you find stability and strength through the pelvis and glutes. The diagonal lunges in particular are excellent at learning how to really move the hip into internal rotation on the trailing leg, while the stance leg must find external rotation and perfect stability to be able to stay upright and then push backwards.

See pictures below.

Forwards & Backwards Lunge

Lateral Lunge

Diagonal Lunge

As you can see this lunge really is a series of hip and adductor stretches combined with core and glute strengthening and stability. We could also argue that using a barbell as pictured here is also requires thoracic extension which is another area people develop bad stiffness.

3: Greatly Mimics Sporting Movements & Change Of Direction Skills

As we saw at the beginning this movement is very similar to what is used in many ball sports like football, basketball, soccer or tennis. This is where you see agility being brought into the exercise. The foot plant with the lateral lunge is vital for learning cutting skills for change of direction. A poor foot plant results in ACL tears which are season ending injuries.

By adding loads, or making it faster, the exercise becomes a lot more demanding and enhances the body's ability at replicating it in a sporting situation. This is also generating the movement of twisting as seen with golf or tennis which is why it is an excellent exercise for a tennis or golf player as it requires the exact movement needed by the hips to provide the extreme force or rotation.

Take a look at the picture below to see how closely this exercise relates to the game of tennis.

You can read more about articles specific to sports below

4: Improve Movement In Older Adults

Amazing how one minute I am telling you this is an excellent athletic development exercise and the very next second telling you it is great for older adults looking to improve function for their senior years. This particular movement is the one we need to execute simple tasks of picking things up or getting off the floor. We use this exercise extensively in our older adults strength training program to teach clients how to preserve this movement, for if you don't use it, you lose it! Watch the videos below with 2 older adults aged between 70 and 80 years of age to see how this is performed.

 

Conclusion

I hope this explains why we love this exercise so much and why you should make this a key part of your strength program in the gym. Whether you are a sporting athlete or just an every day Joe wanting to get fit and healthy this exercise will deliver a big punch in terms of addressing stiffness and weakness all in one big hit. Learning how to perfect it is important and then once you have mastered the form, you must progress to more challenging movements and exercises. If you are an athlete you must move towards the cutting and change of direction drills. If you are an older adult learning to make this a drill for picking things up is key and for the average health and fitness person trying to make this stronger is your objective.

There is some great PDF Reports you can download instantly if you want more information for some of the specific things mentioned in this article.

  

For more ideas and information on specific topics I may not have covered in detail be sure to check out our INDEX PAGE on the website that has over 300 of our best articles. These are all sorted into categories for quick reference so you can find what you are after more easily. You can also subscribe to our FREE fortnightly newsletter by clicking here.

If you do need specific help with your exercise program please feel free to reach out to me for help and we can set you up with your individualised program.

About The Author

Nick Jack is owner of No Regrets Personal Training and has over 15 years’ experience as a qualified Personal Trainer, Level 2 Rehabilitation trainer, CHEK practitioner, and Level 2 Sports conditioning Coach. Based in Melbourne Australia he specialises in providing solutions to injury and health problems for people of all ages using the latest methods of assessing movement and corrective exercise.

References:

  • Movement - By Gray Cook
  • Functional Training for Sports - By Mike Boyle
  • Corrective Exercise Solutions - by Evan Osar
  • Athletic Body Balance by Gray Cook
  • Low Back Disorders - by Stuart McGill
  • Back Pain Mechanic - by Stuart McGill
  • Anatomy Trains - by Thomas Meyers
  • Motor Learning and Performance - By Richard A Schmidt and Timothy D Lee
  • How To Eat, Move & Be Healthy by Paul Chek
  • Scientific Core Conditioning Correspondence Course - By Paul Chek
  • Advanced Program Design - By Paul Chek
  • Twist Conditioning Sports Strength - By Peter Twist
  • Twist Conditioning Sports Movement - By Peter Twist
  • Twist Conditioning Sports Balance - By Peter Twist