Kinesiology of Exercise

Side Lunge

The lunge can also be done in a sideward direction, known as a side lunge. In this exercise you use different muscles and actions in the hip joint although the knee actions are basically the same. 

Major Muscles and Actions Involved

The gluteus medius is involved in hip abduction when you push the hips and body out to the side. The adductor longus, adductor magnus and adductor brevis are also involved when pulling your legs together to assume the upright position. This however, is not a forceful action. The knee joint muscles and actions are the same as in the regular lunge. The main development occurs in the pushoff, with concentration on pushing the hips. This is especially true when the side lunge is done with Active Cords.

Sports Uses

One of the major benefits from doing the side lunge is in the strengthening of the gluteus medius muscle in the pushoff (especially when doing the side lunge with Active cords or on a low pulley cable) and stretching of the groin muscles (especially the gracilis). The movement used in the side lunge is most useful for lateral movements and lateral movements done in combination with running and cutting and jumping for height or distance.

Exercise Analysis

  • When doing the lunge exercise, it is important that you inhale slightly more than usual and hold your breath as you execute the lunge and the return. Exhale after you pass the most difficult portion of the return and then assume the original position. Pause and then repeat. 
  • To increase flexibility of the inner thigh, inhale slightly more than usual as you step out and land on the ground. Once you are securely in position, exhale and relax and gradually lower your body as you stretch your inner thigh. Relax in the bottom position for up to five seconds and then, before returning to the original position, inhale again and hold your breath as you return. 
  • Because the side lunge can be a taxing exercise, you should be sure you have ample strength in your knee, hip and calf muscles. Because you are moving to the side, your knees must possess additional lateral strength of the muscles, ligaments and tendons, especially the medial and lateral collateral ligaments of the knee. This is not needed to the same extent in exercises such as the squat and front lunge. It should also be noted that the hamstrings come into play to provide even greater lateral stability to the knee joint, especially when you use greater resistance. 
  • Strength is not the only physical quality needed for effective and productive execution of the side lunge. Total body balance and hip joint flexibility also play major roles. Because of this, you should not begin doing this exercise with heavy weights, even if you can handle them when you do the front lunge. Start with light weights and increase the weights only as you develop these physical
    qualities. You will know you are ready for heavier weights when you can go to the parallel thigh position and feel well-balanced with the other leg out to the side and straight. 
  • When you step out, be sure to point your toe about 45° out to the side. In so doing, the action should occur in the hip joint, so that your knee is lined up with your foot when you go into the squat portion of the lunge.  If your toes are pointed forward and your knee faces sideways over the foot, great twisting (shearing) forces can occur in the knee that can cause injury. Also, the thigh of your push-off leg should remain in the lateral plane to ensure that the push-off action is via hip joint abduction and not extension, as in the front

Side Lunge vs lunge

Discover the nuances between side lunges and front lunges: Side lunges emphasize lateral movement, targeting inner and outer thighs, while front lunges focus on forward propulsion, engaging quadriceps and glutes. Tailor your lower body workout with insights on form and muscle activation for these distinct lunge variations.

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