I started doing more walking lunges when my upper body finally got big enough that my legs looked even more stick-like than usual and I had to bring them up. I know that lunges aren’t the first thing that most people probably think of when they think about quad building (all hail the squat), but for me they’ve been a substantial piece of the puzzle, both in terms of size and body control.
I started my leg phase with barbell back squatting, and then had to dial it back when I got up around 300 pounds. My height of 6’8″ turns heavier squatting into a lower back exercise.
Then I switched primarily to front squats. This has worked great for my legs as it keeps my long torso very upright during the descent. I go down, not back.
But before too long I wanted something different. Kettlebell front squats, bulgarian split squats, and then the walking lunge. And because that was the movement that felt the most unnatural, I suspected it would have the biggest payoff if I could master it.
The problem I had–or problems, I should say–was that the movement felt very, very awkward to me. I watched a couple of Youtube videos to learn form. This was back before I understood that Youtube is not necessarily the definitive authority on all things strength training. I was an impressionable but enthusiastic lad.
When I stepped with my left leg I was fine. My right leg was beyond clumsy and the ankle and toes felt more bound on that side as well.
I could not mimic “good” form without some pain, and I’m not talking about the discomfort of working hard. My body’s tissue just wasn’t at a place where it could handle textbook lunges as I saw them.
Lunge variations for the tall, clumsy man
There were five things I needed to experiment with:
- The length of the lunge
- The depth
- The direction
- the angle
- the weight
I stepped forward as far as I could without starting to feel all goofy and clumsy. This was about half the length I saw in books and videos. the better I got at the shorter steps, the easier the full-length lunges became.
Easy one here. If I couldn’t descend completely under control, I went more shallow and then worked on control and strength from there.
Stepping backwards instead of forwards
I found I could handle lunges out at approximately 45 degrees much better than trying to step straight out
Sometimes holding kettlebells or putting a bar on my back tightened me up and gave me more control. But not always.
If you feel like a clumsy fool like I have as you try these, do some experimenting and see if there’s a way to feel more comfortable while working within the basic movement pattern.
Do whatever it takes to make the workout more enjoyable. If you look forward to your strength training or bodybuilding sessions, progress will be easier. It’s hard not to look forward to something fun.