Why Forward Lunging With Weight Can Be Dangerous

Forward Lunging in Place With Weight

 Shearing forces push in one direction at the top, and the opposite direction at the bottom, causing shearing deformation. 

Breaking down the forward lunge (in place):

  1. Neutral standing position with weight racked in the form of kettlebells, barbell, dumbbells, or other types of added resistance
  2. Lunge forward
  3. There is a time with no stable support provided during the forward lunge
  4. This is the time for highest potential of the shear force affecting the rear knee
  5. All weight will be shifted to the front leg once the front foot hits standing again
  6. To come back upright the athlete will need to generate enough power to come into neutral standing position without shear force affecting the rear knee
  7. The potential for the shear force to effect the rear knee from lunge position into neutral standing is the highest during the up transition
  8. The power generation will need to be enough to drive bodyweight plus added resistance up; without putting shear force on the rear knee; to completely prevent the potential for injury


The Alternative

The much safer alternative to weighted forward lunges in place, are weighted reverse lunges. Breaking down the reverse lunge in place:

  1. Neutral standing position with weight racked in the form of kettlebells, barbell, dumbbells or other types of added resistance
  2. Lunge backward
  3. There’s stable support provided at all times during the reverse lunge
  4. The athlete can use the strength of the front supporting leg to come back up
  5. At no stage is there potential for the shear force to affect the rear knee unless the athlete trains to failure


If I asked you to think about the movement in its entirety and focus on the coming back up part from the forward lunge. You need to press your front foot explosively into the ground to come back intro neutral standing position. Explosive is the keyword. In-place forward lunges are to work explosiveness. These lunges are always programmed in high volume considering all reps performed in the WOD, with high volume and added weight, one can’t remain explosive. Several things start happening, sliding the front foot back in place, or starting to put weight on the back knee, creating shear forces. Knee pain much?

Forward in-place weighted lunges in anything other than super low rep schemes are bad programming, period.

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