How Much Ya… Lunge?

Lunge exercises show not only how strong you are but the muscular balance between your knee muscles (quads, hamstrings) vs. your hip muscles (glutes, hip flexors).

Before figuring out how much you should be able to Lunge, you’ve gotta know how to Lunge properly.

You can’t compare your Bench press to someone else if you lower down to your chest and Joey from the gym only goes down halfway – the technique must be the same.

So first, watch this vid to make sure your technique is perfect:

Now that you know how to Lunge properly, let’s figure out how much you should be able to Lunge, compared to your Squat, and compared to your bodyweight, to have a good level of strength as an MMA fighter:

The ratio that I give in my Ultimate MMA Strength and Conditioning Program is that you should be able to perform a Reverse barbell lunge at a minimum of 1/2 of your max Back squat, but I’d prefer you get that up to 2/3 your max Back squat.

And for the Lunge, this is not for 1 rep, this would be for at least 2-3 reps per leg.

IMPORTANT: I don’t recommend you try to figure out your 1-rep max on the Lunge!

"Break it down for me Eric."

OK, so if you can Back squat 300 lbs, you should be able to Lunge at least 150 lbs (1/2), but ideally 200 lbs (1/3) for 2-3 reps per leg.

When I’ve tested guys, I’ve seen guys who can Squat 350 lbs, but could barely lunge with 135 lbs on their back.

This indicates a huge imbalance because although strength in a bilateral exercise (Squat) is very good, the unilateral Lunge is weak – showing that the hip and/or core muscles are weak compared to the quads.

Now with respect to your Back squat, you should be able to lift 1.5 x Bodyweight for your 1-rep max.

That means a 180 lb dude should be able to Squat 270 lbs for 1 rep. And this is a good, low rep, not a sissy, half rep.

My max  Back squat is around 290 lbs, so I should be doing Reverse lunges with at least 1/2 of that (145 lbs), but ideally, 2/3 of that (195 lbs) on my back.

If you suck at math, then basically you should be able to do a Reverse Barbell Lunge with at least your bodyweight for 3 reps per side.

Think it’s crazy? If you haven’t been training the Lunge (tsk tsk) then it is.

But if you have been working it, it’s very attainable. Here’s proof of my Lunge with 6 total reps x 195 lbs:

[flv:heavy-lunge.flv 512 288]

This was from the basement gym where I do a lot of my training – just so much more convenient and I don’t have dudes interrupting my workouts… plus I can go barefoot – which is huge from MMA fighters…

Give it a shot and leave your numbers in a comment below – or if you have any questions, as always, leave a comment and I’ll get back to you.

Also, if you think this is a good post – please share it with your friends on Facebook or Twitter or any of the other icons directly below… Thanks!

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Matt
Matt

I just happened to be looking through some sites to see what others are saying about the efficiency of unilateral lower body movements and came across this site. Good information. After reading your strength ratios for squats and lunges it actually looks like I’m doing ok. I did reverse lunges today with 230 lbs for six reps on each leg for four sets total (each set is 6 with each leg). Since I weigh about 185 or so pounds I guess this is pretty good. Good to have an idea now as to what is considered strong on these. I agree that unilateral leg movements are much more effective and applicable to sports activities. Keep up the good forum!

Chris
Chris

Hey..thanks for the video post. Whenever I do the exercise, I feel a lot of strain on my leg that is on the bench (in the quad area). Is that normal? Thanks!

Eric

You might not be coming forward enough – there will be a little bit of work going on in that leg, but it shouldn’t be painful…

Put more weight on the front foot and allow your knee to go in front of the toe (see more comments above for more info)…

elliott
elliott

Height 6’1.5″, 245#, Max back squat: 460, max lunge: 270, max front squat: 315. I think I’m doing ok according to what you said Eric.

Eric

Yeah you’re doing fine big man!!!

A guy your size and strength should really focus on endurance/cardio/power while maintaining strength… no need for any more strength.

elliott
elliott

Thanks for the comment and advice. I still have another 12 weeks of power/strength training to do and than I switch to endurance (i’m dreading doing those core shredder and cardio workouts you posted…lol). Over the last 3 months I got my olympic C & J from 225 to 250. Took a month off and now back at it. The goal is to get it to 265-270, and than switch gears. I’ll let you know how it goes. Great website.

ivan
ivan

hi eric.god material!

TRH
TRH

I agree with the convenience of training at home, thereby elminating the big-chested jocks constantly asking you “are ya done with that bench yet?” so they can continue their strictly bench pressing workouts. I’ve been training at home with bodyweight exercises since late 2005 (and kettlebells since early 2009) and have never looked back. Eric, what’s your take on Jumping Lunges? I practice them regularly (I’ll do a set of 20 per leg followed by 30 sec in the Wall Chair, and repeat 3-5x) as they’re my favourite leg exercise, and being explosive I would imagine they would carry over excellently into MMA. P.S.: I noticed those push-up handles across from your squat rack. Did you buy those from SportChek? If they’re the brand I think they are, be careful when using them. I was using mine one day and *SNAP* went the plastic foot on one of them. Not… Read more »

Chris
Chris

Thanks for all your help Eric.
I was wondering, should I push from my toes or from the ball of my foot to target my glutes? I really want to strngthen my glutes.

Another question is that I heard and have read from different sources that the perfect balance between strength and endurance is 10reps per set x 10 sets per major muscle with 1 minute rests between sets
I have tried this for a month now and my energy levels are higher and I still have incredible endurance while maintaining pretty good strength.
Have you heard whether that is scientifically proven? It seems to work for me.

patrice
patrice

Hi Eric,

I now know that my legs are REALLY weak !

Your videos show your tibia being angled forward at the bottom of the movement, with your knee in front of the tip of your toes.

I have always done lunges (forward or reverse) so that my tibia is vertical at the bottom of the movement (i.e. my knee is in line with the heel).

This maybe why heavy weights are hard for me.

Am I doing this wrong ?

It would also be interesting to proper squats and deadlifts.

Keep up to the great work,
Thanks in advance,

Eric

If you’re always keeping the tibia straight up then you’re limiting the amount of quad development you get with the lunge, and you’re putting a lot of stress on the back knee.

Heavy weights are harder when you keep the tibia straight up because of the stress on the back knee.

When you drive the tibia forward while still keeping your foot planted firmly and weight either pushing through the heel mostly or evenly distributed, you engage the quads and glutes through a full range of motion and take stress off the back knee.

… and maybe I’ll throw a squat or deadlift video up soon… good idea… 🙂

patrice
patrice

Thanks for the response.

I tried angling the tibia, and it does hit the quads harder.
But the knee MUST stay behind the tip of the toes. When my knee goes beyond the toes, the quads work even harder but the knee is really stressed.

Cheers,

Eric

The knee isn’t stressed anymore than it can handle as long as you keep the foot planted firmly down into the ground.

This is a myth that many people have learned “Don’t let the knee come in front of the toes” hell what do you do when you drive in for a takedown?

What does the knee naturally do when you climb stairs or a big hill?

That’s right – go in front of the toes…

Train it intelligently, use good form, and progress up and the strength of the muscles will take the load away from the joint structures and you’ll be good to go.

Gary
Gary

just because mma guys need to bend the knee to go in for a take down and the knee naturally goes over the toes i really would advise against this if your not an mma guy and if you have bad knees. Most people would hurt their knees and remember most sports are really bad for the knees and body anyway!

Glauco
Glauco

Hey!
First of all, thanks for your wonderful material.

I can lunge with 70 kg on my back (I weight 73 kg. so it’s quite close to the goal)
Ooh, yes that’s around 155 pounds (when are you americans going to update and use the metric system?)

Regards

Eric

I’m Canadian, so although we officially use metric – we’re still so influenced by the Imperial system of the USA that most people use it for things like pounds and inches… But yes, metric just makes SO much more sense it’s amazing that inches still exist!

Tania
Tania

Hi Eric!

What do you think about doing lunges with the front leg on a soft balance board?

Eric

Useful for low level rehab to regain proprioception but not very useful for strengthening/sports performance unless you’re training a skateboarder, snowboarder, surfer, or circus performer.

If you’re in a sport where the ground doesn’t move underneath you – don’t train by standing on unstable surfaces!

hayden
hayden

I dislocated my knee cap a while ago will lunges help prevent that happening again?

Eric

Strengthening the quads will help – but somethings you can’t prevent – like if you get caught in a vicious armbar and you don’t tap, no matter how strong you are – POP!