Kettlebell Rack Lunge
By Will Lind
Images © Will Lind / Functional Running
For pure strength, I recommend bilateral movements (such as the squat). For building some strength while comparing strength limb to limb, keeping your workouts interesting, challenging coordination, developing stability and gaining movement awareness, you can’t go past unilateral lower body exercises. Runners especially have a strong affiliation with the lunge due to its accessibility and effectiveness.
Here we throw a kettlebell into the mix to challenge you even further. We’re gonna use a standard rack position that will force greater engagement through the midsection, demanding a strong bracing of the spine to maintain posture, while throwing you off balance thanks to the weight placed off centre at your chest.
We’re gonna start with the rack position here, because a comfortable rack position will make or break your experience. You might need to play with the positioning to get this right. The rack position is a hold position used when playing with kettlebells but on it’s own can be used for exercise variations. Even a standard walk with a kettlebell held in rack position will start to take it’s toll.
Note – kettlebelling has a number of variations, including for the rack position. This is just one way to go about holding a kettlebell in rack.
1. The kettlebell is held in palm at the corner of the handle.
2. To get the right height, get your thumb at your sternum with index finger pointing up and just brushing the underside of your chin
3. Elbow into your hip with the forearm angling slightly across the body.
4. The kettlebell rests in the crook of your arm on the outside. It will rest against bicep and forearm.
5. Inside of bicep rests against the body.
6. Wrist should be straight.
7. Handle of the bell should be held at 45 degrees across palm.
7. To get familiar with the position you’re best bet is to simply walk around in that hold.
The Rack Lunge Pointers
1. Check to see that you’re not standing with feet on the same line. You want feet around hip width apart.
2. Easiest (in terms of balance) is to take a step backwards in your lunge.
3. At first, don’t over stride. A safe, practical lunge is achieved with both knees at 90 degrees when bent. If mobility and strength allows, challenge yourself with a longer stance.
4. Ensure you’re focus is on the front leg. That’s the leg you’re working.
5. Squeeze the butt of the rear leg to bring your pelvis underneath you.
6. Keep your shoulders down and your torso upright. Try not to look down at your feet.
7. For the most basic lunge, don’t bring your feet back together.
8. Look to drop the rear knee rather than drive forwards.
9. Work to keep the front knee tracking inline with second toe, and don’t shift your weight in front of the foot.
10. The knee should not plonk to the ground. Control your descent as much as your ascent (just like in running).
Rack Lunge Basic
Rack Lunge Long Stance
How to Execute
A basic guide is to complete 1 set of 8-12 lunges on each leg with the rack position on your left, then switch the rack hold to your right and repeat on both legs. That will give you 4 sets in total with equal work performed across both legs.
However, I strongly encourage (safely) playing with your workout and mixing things up. You’re runners, not weight lifters, and your strength work needs to be stimulating.
Make the lunge harder by alternating legs every lunge, or harder again by lunge walking around a room. Include changes of direction to spice things up.