Welcome friend! In this post, you will learn about lunges for seniors. Are they safe and should you do them? Read on to find out.
Lunges are a great lower body strength training exercise. They are a great example of a functional exercise that helps develop strength in your legs.
Because lunges require you to move your legs in separate positions, they are also great for improving stability and balance.
But this is also one of the main issues with lunges for seniors. Because you lift your whole body weight in a split position, they can be very demanding.
A full lunge also requires a surprising amount of flexibility and mobility. All this means that lunges are not safe for all seniors.
But before we talk more about that, let’s look at the movement in more detail. So you have a better understanding of it.
What Are Lunges
Lunges are a strength training exercise that targets mainly the legs. In a lunge, you squat close to the ground with your legs in a split position.
They are a bit of like one-leg squats but in reality, both legs do contribute to the movement.
Lunges target especially the quads and the glutes. But also your hamstrings, calves, and hip adductors are very active in the movement.
Lunges are very functional. You are basically performing a lunge anytime you tie your shoes in a certain way bringing your other leg forward.
Lunges help develop athletic ability, stability, and balance which transfer well to day-to-day life.
They are very beneficial for seniors that have the mobility and strength to develop them. But they are not suitable for everyone, as you will soon learn.
Lunges Vs. Squats
You might be thinking that what’s the difference between squats and lunges. And that’s a great question.
The main difference between a lunge and a squat is that the lunge is a more dynamic exercise. It challenges your balance more than a regular squat.
Lunges are also significantly more demanding for strength than squats. A full range of motion lunge is almost like a single leg squat for the front leg.
To understand the difference in the strength requirement, picture this. A person who weighs 160 lbs squats about 140 lbs or 70 lbs per leg (the weight of the lower leg isn’t really lifted).
When the same person performs a lunge, the front leg lifts a much higher percentage of that 140 lbs. Probably somewhere around 100 lbs or even more.
The legs also have to work more to stabilize the uneven movement compared to squats. You can learn more about squats in the articles Squats For Seniors and Weak Legs On Seniors.
So when performed with bodyweight, the lunge is a much more demanding exercise than a squat. It’s also more effective for training your legs if you are strong already. But it can be too much for many seniors.
Safety Of Lunges For Seniors
The biggest problem with lunges is that they can be too demanding for many seniors. Because they require more flexibility and balance than a regular squat, the risk of injury is real.
The strength requirements are also so high that it’s very easy to pull a muscle or injure a joint if you try them without preparation.
That’s why I recommend you don’t include full lunges in your routine until you can perform at least 20 full deep squats.
You can also do partial lunges and gradually increase the range of motion. Just make sure to warm up and stretch before attempting. Even partial lunges can be surprisingly hard.
Also, beware that if you have any issues with balance, it’s probably not a good idea to do lunges until you have improved leg strength.
The lunges challenge your balance by compromising your stability. On the other hand, this makes them great for improving balance skills. But the risk of falling is very real.
If you want to learn about safer ways to improve your balance skill, read the articles Fall Prevention Exercises For Seniors and Standing Balance Exercises For Seniors.
How To Perform Lunges For Seniors
When you start a lunge, one leg steps forward, while the other one stays back. Once the knee of your back leg touches the ground or at least gets close to it, you explode up with the front leg.
Once you are at the top, you change the leg and perform the exercise again. This is the most common variation of the lunge.
Here’s a great example of the exercise by Women’s Health (YouTube embed, content not owned or created by ElderStrength.com).
Lunges can be performed in several variations. You can also do them walking forward. This variation is called walking lunges.
Another variation is the reverse lunge. In reverse lunges, you step backward instead of forward. So the front foot stays put but it’s still the back foot’s leg that touches the ground.
Here’s a great example of the walking lunge by Howcast (YouTube embed, content not owned or created by ElderStrength.com).
And here’s a great example of a reverse lunge by Well+Good (YouTube embed, content not owned or created by ElderStrength.com).
I hope you found this post about lunges for seniors useful. If you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments section below and I’ll get back to you.
As a recap, lunges can be a very effective strength training exercise for the legs and the glutes. They are also great for improving balance as they challenge your stability.
The problem is that they require quite a lot of strength and mobility. This can be too demanding for many seniors with flexibility issues and a lack of leg strength.
That’s why it’s better to improve your leg strength with squats and other leg strength exercises (like the leg press) before attempting lunges.
A routine of stretching is also good for improving flexibility. This helps avoid injury when attempting lunges.
Thanks for reading and see you next time!