Resistance Band Lunge: Benefits, Muscles Worked, More

published by: Debbie Luna
Last Updated:
November 27, 2022

Many workouts target the glutes, hamstrings, quads, and hip adductor muscles which are important in actions such as hip extension, knee extension, knee flexion, and leg adduction. These movements are important in everyday activities from something as simple as rising from the ground to more advanced sporting activities such as running.

The resistance band lunge is a leg-strengthening exercise that helps in both injury prevention and recovery. It involves a basic lunge motion but with the use of a resistance band, rather than free weights, to add tension during the exercise. This aids in building strength and making the workout more challenging.

Other than helping in injury prevention and recovery, a resistance band lunge also has other benefits including improved balance and coordination, weight loss, decreased risk of injury, increased flexibility and range of motion, and improved muscular symmetry.

What is a Lunge?

The lunge is a useful workout that gets the body ready for movements required in everyday life. It resembles many of the movements and muscle-activation patterns of daily activities, such as walking, running, and ascending or descending stairs. For instance, it is a frequent position individuals assume to rise up from the ground.

bodyweight lunge

During the lunge, the lower body's muscles, particularly the quadriceps, glutes, and hamstrings, engage in both eccentric and concentric contractions. With a number of variations, it is an efficient leg-strengthening exercise that will spice up the workout routine. Changing techniques enables one to highlight various muscles.

Additionally, lunges are effective in part because of the work the body must do during the eccentric period. Eccentric muscle contraction is more effective than concentric muscle contraction in increasing hypertrophy and muscle size.

This exercise is helpful for both preventing injuries and recovering from them. It frequently forms a component of a rehab protocol or foundational strength program, enabling athletes and exercisers to get back to their sport or favorite activity as soon as possible.

In a single workout, this powerful action trains a variety of lower body muscles. Furthermore, it is simple to do and offers a lot of advantages. 

Ways to Do Lunges with a Resistance Band

1. Standard Resistance Band Lunge

To perform the standard resistance band lunge, grab a resistance band holding each end with one hand then use one foot to step on the center of the band. The foot stepping on the band is the side that is targeted by the exercise.

resistance band lunge

The feet should be placed at a hip-width distance. Shoulders should be retracted while the core should be engaged. The foot that is not on the band is stepped back behind the torso so that the distance between the two feet is wider than a walking stride. Elbows are then bent until the hands reach shoulder height to stretch the band even more. This is the starting position.

The body is lowered by bending the posterior knee and bringing it toward the ground while ensuring that the body’s weight is evenly distributed between the heel of the foot in front and the toes of the foot at the back. The motion ends with the posterior knee hovering just above the ground. The movement should also be done slowly with control and held for about one to two seconds at the lowest point.

To return to the starting position, rise from the ground by driving through the front heel and extending the knees and hips of the front leg. Repeat this motion for the desired number of reps to complete a single set.

2. Resistance Band Forward Lunge

The resistance band forward lunge is performed by attaching the band to a sturdy and stable object, such as a metal pole, at hip height. The band is then stretched and positioned around the hips such that the resistance is pulling from behind.

To get into the starting position, the feet should be shoulder-width apart with the core engaged and the chest elevated. Move into a lunge by taking a large step forward while lowering down until the posterior knee is just above the ground or until both front and back knees are at about a 90-degree angle. Hold the position for about one to two seconds before pushing into the front heel and taking a step back to get back to the starting stance.

3. Resistance Band Reverse Lunge

The placement of the band for the resistance band reverse lunge is the same as that for the standard resistance band lunge. However, the starting stance for the reverse lunge is kept at a standing position where the feet are parallel to each other and shoulder-width apart.

To move into a lunge, the foot that is not stepping on the band is stepped back while lowering down to the ground until around a 90-degree angle is reached by both front and back knees. Just like the other variations, the lunge position is held for one to two seconds before going back to the starting stance.

Benefits of Resistance Band Lunge

Improved Balance and Coordination

A lunge is classified as a unilateral exercise because it works one side of the body with the other side only working to stabilize the position. The execution of a lunge requires additional stability gained from the activation of the back and the core muscles. Furthermore, because the movement is a single-leg activity, a lunge also needs joint stability and control that contributes to the improvement of both coordination and balance. 

Weight Loss

Lunges are an excellent workout for weight loss. This exercise requires the function of the large muscle groups of the lower body hence leading to a build-up of lean muscle and reduced body fat.

Due to the workload that a lunge offers, it is also able to increase the total daily energy expenditure which enables weight loss.

Decreases Risk of Injury

Without overtaxing the spine, lunges tone and strengthen the back and abdominal muscles. The risk of injury is decreased, posture is improved, and regular motions become simpler when one possesses a strong, stable core.

In addition, the asymmetric, non-wide base of a lunge compromises balance during its performance. Strengthening each leg individually through a lunge helps with improving stability as it challenges balance individually and does not permit compensatory movement patterns. This, in turn, reduces the occurrence of falls and injuries.

Increased Flexibility and Range of Motion

The resistance band lunge is considered a static stretching exercise when it involves holding the lunge position to a point of a stretching sensation. On the other hand, it is considered a dynamic exercise when a limb is moved through its full range of motion and repeated several times. In both scenarios, an increase in flexibility and range of motion may be observed as a benefit of the workout.

According to some studies, static and dynamic stretching exercises such as a lunge may increase the range of motion acutely or with continued practice. The same observation is seen with regard to flexibility, however, it is important to note that the increased flexibility that may be seen with lunges is primarily due to an increase in stretch tolerance, not an increase in muscle length.

The addition of a resistance band to a static or dynamic lunge provides difficulty to the workout. Furthermore, it contributes to the benefits mentioned as the added resistance allows for a greater challenge for the muscles to overcome.

Improving Muscular Symmetry

Muscular asymmetry is at times unnoticed and unaddressed. Lunges may be helpful in these situations because unilateral exercises increase muscle hypertrophy as well as improve strength in the weaker leg. Adding a resistance band to the workout allows further strengthening of the affected side. The increase in strength and size of the affected muscles lessens movement and developmental asymmetries as well as compensation patterning.

Muscles Worked by Lunges

Glutes 

The gluteus group of muscles is made up of three muscles, namely the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and gluteus minimus. While similar in name, the gluteus maximus muscle differs from the gluteus minimus and gluteus medius in both its innervation and function.

gluteal muscles

Extension, external rotation, and abduction and adduction of the thigh at the hip joint are all functions of the gluteus maximus muscle. In contrast, the gluteus medius and gluteus minimus function to abduct and internally rotate the thigh. Additionally, the two latter muscles also provide pelvis stabilization.

Among these three muscles, it is the gluteus medius muscle that is often injured especially during sporting activities such as soccer and basketball. Injury to this muscle may occur due to poor flexibility or sudden bursts of activity hence resulting in listing of the trunk toward the weak side during ambulation. This movement pattern is termed the trendelenburg gait which may be improved through unilateral exercises such as a lunge.

Hamstrings

At the back of the thigh, there is a set of muscles known as the hamstrings. Biceps femoris, semitendinosus, and semimembranosus are the three muscles that comprise this group of muscles. Each of these muscles supports the knee and hip in a different way.

hamstring muscles

The hamstrings perform a number of tasks including knee flexion and hip joint extension. Furthermore, these muscles are essential for running, bending the knees, and walking. They cooperate with a variety of other muscles to keep stability and balance while moving.

Quadriceps

One of the human body's biggest and most potent muscles is the quadriceps femoris. Together with the sartorius, it creates the front of the thighs. The rectus femoris, vastus lateralis, vastus medialis, and vastus intermedius are its four individual muscles.

quadricep muscles

Only the rectus femoris of these four muscles can bend and stretch the knee and hip joints, respectively. These muscles, which have diverse femur and pelvic origins, all insert into the quadriceps tendon, which in turn inserts into the base of the patella.

Hip Adductors

The muscles located on the inner side of the thigh are collectively known as the hip adductors. Five muscles are in this group and these are the adductor longus, adductor brevis, adductor magnus, pectineus, and gracilis muscles. These muscles primarily work together to move the thigh closer to the central axis of the body but they are also capable of stabilizing the pelvis for proper posture. 

Final Thoughts

While lunges alone are beneficial for weight loss, improving balance and coordination, decreasing the risk of injury, increasing flexibility and range of motion, and improving muscular symmetry, adding a resistance band to the exercise enhances these benefits due to the application of an external force.

Resistance band lunges are no doubt of great use for the benefits mentioned above. However, it is also important to consider the individual’s condition before adding this workout to the exercise regimen.

References

1. Page P. Current concepts in muscle stretching for exercise and rehabilitation. Int J Sports Phys Ther. 2012;7(1):109-119.

2. Lopes JSS, Machado AF, Micheletti JK, de Almeida AC, Cavina AP, Pastre CM. Effects of training with elastic resistance versus conventional resistance on muscular strength: A systematic review and meta-analysis [published correction appears in SAGE Open Med. 2020 Sep 9;8:2050312120961220]. SAGE Open Med. 2019;7:2050312119831116. Published 2019 Feb 19. doi:10.1177/2050312119831116

Debbie (Deb) started powerlifting and Olympic lifting in High School as part of her track team's programming; She continues to train in order to remain athletic. Inspire US allows Deb to share information related to training, lifting, biomechanics, and more.
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