Last week we talked about a very fundamental exercise that every player must master long before they progress to more advanced movements like weightlifting or explosive work, the squat. To review, being able to maintain a good, stable, upright posture while loading the legs and hips using just bodyweight is very important before considering using weights. Like any exercise, check with a physician and qualified trainer before incorporating any movements into your program safely and effectively.
Another basic movement that should be included in some form in a player’s program is the lunge. The lunge is one of the first progressions in performing single-leg exercises in a program, meaning I want athletes to be able to correctly perform lunges with good balance and posture before we move on to more advanced exercises like single leg squats or directional lunges, which we’ll talk about later this summer.
The lunge starts with the athlete in a standing position, head and chest up, feet flat. The athlete will then place one foot about 3 feet forward and while maintaining an upright posture, lowers the hips to the ground while maintaining toe contact with the back foot. The back knee comes close to touching the ground, if possible within an inch or two. The athlete then pushes back with the forward foot to return to the original starting position.
Key things that should be mastered are body posture, balance and leg movement. The body should remain upright throughout the entire movement, with the torso lowering to the ground by dropping of the hips straight down rather than leaning forward. The athlete should have good balance throughout the movement with no sway or falling. The knees should point in the same direction as the toes, always bending forwards, not bending in or out while loading or unloading.
Mastering the lunge is important as it is the first step in developing single leg strength, a vital component of the development of power, critical to success in hockey.