If you’ve ever knelt down to tie your shoe or seen someone propose on bended knee, you're familiar with a lunge. A lunge is a single-leg bodyweight exercise that works your hips, glutes, quads, hamstrings, core, and the hard-to-reach muscles of the inner thigh.

Lunges can help you develop lower-body strength and endurance, and unlike squats, they are highly effective at evening out muscle imbalances. They're also a great beginner move. Why? Because you pretty much do them daily (they mimic our walking pattern).

Ready to take the lunge? Master the move by following the steps below from personal trainer Greg Nieratka. Then keep reading to learn how to fix common mistakes and try some variations.

Perfect Lunge

1. Stand tall with feet hip-width apart. Engage core.

2. Take a big step forward with right leg and start to shift weight forward so heel hits the floor first.

3. Lower body until right thigh is parallel to floor and right shin is vertical (it's okay if knee shifts forward a little as long as it doesn't go past right toe). If mobility allows, lightly tap left knee to ground while keeping weight in right heel.

4. Press into right heel to drive back up to starting position.

5. Repeat on the other side.

The Most Common Lunge Mistakes (and How to Fix Them)

How To Do The Perfect Forward Lunge

The Mistake: The Tightrope Lunge

Sure, lunges will challenge your balance, but there's no reason to make it extra hard on yourself by narrowing your stance. Avoid bringing front foot directly in line with back foot (as if you're walking on a tightrope). "This dramatically reduces stability," Nieratka explains.

The Fix: Start with feet hip-width apart and maintain that distance as you step.

How To Do The Perfect Forward Lunge

The Mistake: The Heel Pop

We hate to break it to you, but "pop, lock, and drop it" should be reserved exclusively for the dance floor. When it comes to lunging, you want to step forward enough that your front heel won't pop off the floor. "If your step is too shallow, your knee will travel forward past your foot, which puts unnecessary stress and strain on the knee," Nieratka says.

The Fix: Take a larger step, plant heel, and drive into floor to return to starting position.

How To Do The Perfect Forward Lunge

The Mistake: The Upper Body Drop

With a forward lunge, it's okay to, well, shift your weight forward. But beware of bending at the hip and letting your upper body drop, which will put added strain on your knee. "This is especially important if you are doing a lunge under load or with a weight," Nieratka says. If your chest falls, you run the risk of losing balance, falling, or even dropping the weight on yourself—ouch!

The Fix: Engage your core (think about pulling your belly button to your spine) and keep your eyes forward instead of looking down.

Take It to the Next Level

Once you master proper form, you can add weight to make it more challenging—and rewarding. “The weight can be a barbell, one or two dumbbells, a kettlebell, or really any object you have at home,” says Nieratka. Water bottles or a jug of laundry detergent totally counts too. Or try these lunge variations to switch up your routine.

Special thanks to Greg Nieratka, trainer and coach at SOLACE in New York City, for demonstrating these moves for us. Nieratka wears a Ten Thousand shirt, his own Lululemon shorts, and his own Nike sneakers.

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