Lunges are not a fun exercise. I hate them, but they engage the hip area and offer work on balance that is irreplaceable. Add a kettle bell extended above your head and this low load activity creates new levels of resistance, especially to the transverse abdominis. Research is clear that adding free weights to even traditional non-core exercises activates the lumbar multifidus. Adding a kettle bell above the head while completing the low load balance exercise of a lunge creates an all body exercise.
The maintenance of upright posture in performing non-core exercises such as overhead presses with external resistances produces large activation magnitudes for the transverse abdominis. Implementing ground based free weight exercises provides an optimal core challenge that can be adapted into exercise training programs.
– Systematic review of core muscle electromyographic activity during physical fitness
exercises by Jason Martuscello
Start with a light weight. Remember, the goal of a low load exercise is to focus on quality of movement and efficiency. You will add weight later as your balance, muscle response and nervous response improves.
Lift the kettle bell above your head and hold your arm locked in a straight position. Complete the lunge by putting the same side knee to the ground while stepping forward with the opposite leg. Focus on stability and keeping your arm straight in the same position throughout the whole exercise. This will activate critical resistance throughout your whole trunk while the lunge movement focuses on your hip area. Head on over to functionalmovement.com for a simple image on what it should look like.
Turn boring lunges into a whole body exercise. Alternate ways to perform the lunge are to complete a one armed dumbbell shoulder press while completing the lunge, walking overhead lunges, lateral lunges, curtsy lunges (awesome for balance while holding weight over your head, but keep it light and focus on balance), add a woodchop while lunging, add bicep curls, or really anything that allows movement in your torso which requires your core muscles to activate while you keep your balance. What can you come up with to drive the lunge exercise into a core strengthening exercise?