How To Do The Pendulum Lunge Properly

When it comes to building your lower body strength, the pendulum lunge is undefeated. You only need a few reps before you start feeling the burn in your lower body.

Unlike the conventional lunge, this variation involves one foot remaining on the ground as the other leg alternates between a reverse and forward lunge, which immensely tests your overall balance because you have to try your best not to fall down.

It can be hard to master but once you get the hang of it, you will reap benefits far beyond tight glutes and toned legs.

To do it properly, follow these steps:

  • Stand upright with your feet side by side.
  • Step one foot into a forward lunge to bring the back knee toward the floor. Your forward knee should stay stacked above the ankle.
  • Brace your core.
  • Without lifting the back foot off the ground, move quickly into a reverse lunge with the forward leg.
  • Repeat this motion for 3 sets of 8-12 reps each.

WHAT MUSCLES DOES THE PENDULUM LUNGE WORK?

The pendulum lunge increases the mass and strength of the muscles in your lower body.

It specifically involves your abdominals, glutes, back muscles, hamstrings, quadriceps and calves.

BENEFITS OF THE PENDULUM LUNGE

ENHANCES BALANCE AND STABILITY

The pendulum lunge is a unilateral exercise that works each side of your lower body independently.

Training each side independently causes your body to have less stability, which makes your core and spine work even harder to keep your body balanced.

IMPROVES ALIGNMENT

This movement is better than most bilateral exercises used for rehabilitation purposes since it helps correct muscular imbalances and asymmetry.

If your less dominant side is less flexible or strong, the pendulum lunge can help work it so that both of your legs get an equal amount of work.

IMPROVES POSTURE

This exercise is one of the few that strengthen your core and back muscles without putting too much pressure on your spine.

With a strong and stable core, your posture improves and the risk of spinal injury greatly reduces.

MINIMAL STRESS ON YOUR JOINTS

The pendulum lunge is ideal for people with knee problems and less hip mobility since it is a lot easier on your joints compared to most lower body exercises.

ALTERNATIVES TO THE PENDULUM LUNGE

CHAIR SQUAT

The chair squat can help you develop lower body strength which then improves your ability to perform a pendulum lunge.

Steps:

  • Position a chair behind you (should be about 45 cm high).
  • Stand one foot in front of the chair, with your feet shoulder-width apart and turn them out to about 10 degrees.
  • Initiate the motion by hinging your hips backward and sitting back as you lower your hips.
  • As you move your hips back, generate some tension in your legs and feet by pushing your knees outward. This will prevent the knees from turning inward or caving in.
  • Continue lowering your hips until they touch the chair. Do not actually sit down on the chair.
  • As soon as your hips get into contact with the chair, push through your feet to get back up to the starting position.
  • Keep your knees and toes pointing towards the same direction throughout the range of motion.

Make sure to lean forward slightly as you squat down to position your shins and torso in the same angle.

If you do not have a sturdy chair, a surface around 45 cm high could still get the job done.

SPLIT LUNGE

Also known as the Bulgarian split squat, this lunge is an advanced variation where your front leg bears more of your bodyweight than the rear one, hence increasing the stimulus to your front leg without the need of additional external load.

Steps:

  • Stand upright with your back to a chair seat about 18 inches tall, with your feet hip-width apart.
  • Put one leg on the seat, placing only the toes and balls of your foot on it.
  • Slowly lower your hips by bringing your rear knee toward the ground. Do not drive forward with the front knee so that you only use your rear knee and hips instead.
  • Continue lowering your body until your front thigh is parallel to the ground. At the bottom position, the front shin should either be angled forward or perpendicular to the floor.
  • Alternate legs with each rep.

JUMP LUNGE

The jump lunge is a great alternative because it also tests your balance, coordination and stability.

It increases the explosiveness and intensity of the standard lunge, which means you should only try it if you are already comfortable with the split and standard lunges.

Steps:

  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart.
  • Take a big step forward. The front foot should be pointing forward while the back one turns out slightly.
  • Bring your back knee slowly toward the floor to lower your hips. For optimal movement, rotate the back foot inward, lower your knee and raise the back heel.
  • Once the back knee is about 5 inches off the floor, drive through your front foot explosively and jump off the floor.
  • Switch the feet mid-air and land on the floor in a lunge position, so that the foot that was in front in your previous lunge becomes the rear foot.
  • Once the rear knee reaches full depth, get into the next rep.

Note that it is very important to land with the correct form so that your feet absorb the force safely to prevent injury.

PENDULUM LUNGE MISTAKES TO AVOID

INCORRECT STANCE

A lot of people do the pendulum lunge with a stance that is too narrow. This makes it hard to achieve balance and increases pressure on your joints.

Make sure you begin every lunge with your feet hip-width apart so that you target the right muscles without hurting your knees.

LETTING YOUR FRONT KNEE GO PAST THE FRONT TOES

Doing so increases pressure on your knee joints, which could cause knee pain or discomfort over time.

Widening your stance can help ease the strain, but be careful not to put too much weight in the back leg as this could make the issue even worse.

CONCLUSION

If you love lunges but you’re getting a bit tired of doing the forward and reverse lunge every day, how about you try this hybrid of the two- the pendulum lunge?

You’ll have nothing to regret, that’s for sure.

But of course, you have to be consistent and use proper form to see any good results.