The Lunge is a great exercise for working the thighs and glutes but it has one major problem.
Every time you step forward with the dumbbells in your hands, all the force of the weights and your body shifting forward goes right into your front knee.
It's not so bad if you're using lighter weights, but it can affect your knees even then. If you're using heavy weights, forget about it! The force of each step forward gives you potentially damaging stress without any additional benefits over a split squat type of movement.
What this variation of the Dumbbell Lunge does for you is take the forward shearing force off the knee at the bottom and keeps it on the thighs and glutes, where it belongs.
Because instead of stepping forward onto the flat ground, you're going to plant your front foot on the face of a decline bench (it appears to be an incline when you're doing the exercise, which is why I called it that) so that you get a direct push back instead of an angled push back.
This difference means the force to the knee is GREATLY reduced.
Pick up a couple of dumbbells and stand in front of a decline bench. Make sure the bench isn't going to slide forward if you put any pressure on it.
Set your front foot on the face of the bench, about halfway up, dumbbell hanging at your sides.
That's your start position. Now move forward into the lunge position.
Because the bench is elevated, you can go nice and deep into the lunge position (more so than if your front foot was flat on the ground). This allows you to really get down and work the glute on that side - the greater the stretch, the greater the glutes will be involved.
Push yourself back up to the start position, keeping your front foot on the bench still - it's better for balance to keep the front foot on.
Once you've done your reps on the one leg, switch to the other leg and do your reps.
When you do the next set, start with the leg you didn't start with on the first set. This will help to keep things even in terms of strength.
One thing to note, when you're setting yourself up for the exercise, if you place your left foot on the bench, your right foot should be about 4 to 6 inches to the right of the centerline of the bench. Basically, don't set your right foot directly in line behind the left - you need to keep some horizontal separation between the two feet so you don't fall over.
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