Skater lunges | How are they performed? Muscles involved and common mistakes

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Joe Dispenza

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Skater lunges is a lunge exercise by keeping most of the weight on one foot and crossing behind the other foot.

It is therefore a unilateral and multi-joint exercise with a closed kinetic chain. To perform the exercise correctly it is necessary to have good hip mobility and strength in the hip rotators.

The exercise itself stresses the ligaments and the knee joint in general, and if you don't have the mobility and strength requirements it is not a good idea to perform the full variation of the exercise. This does not mean that it is an exercise to be avoided.

It is a movement that aims primarily to maintain good mobility and to strengthen the ligaments, both of which are fundamental in preventing injuries and maintaining general health of the joints.

Often in fact a lack of mobility of the pelvis goes to "compensate itself" in the adjacent joints, this often happens and it is mostly the lumbar area and the knees that suffer from it.

In real life, moreover, one does not pay attention to how the knee is positioned with each movement and if the ligaments are not ready for a certain stress, this joint is vulnerable even if you have massive quadriceps and hamstrings.

This exercise should therefore not be underestimated and it might be a good idea to include it at the end of a leg workout or the day after a heavy lower body workout to help reduce DOMS and regain mobility.


The starting position is standing upright with feet slightly apart. From this position:

  • Remove one foot behind and to the side of the one that remains in support. The legs must therefore be crossed
  • Simultaneously with this movement, flex the knee of the foot in support
  • To balance the movement it is necessary to flex the hips bringing the trunk slightly forward
  • Touch with the knee of the displaced leg on the ground while keeping the weight on the leg that has remained stationary. The pelvis of the stationary leg should be in slight adduction and intra rotation
  • From this position extend the knee of the still leg and at the same time abduct and extend the pelvis, recovering the initial rotation. To do this without over-stressing the joints, you need to actively contract the quadriceps and glutes
  • Repeat the same movement for the other leg or continue with the same side and after the desired number of repetitions perform the same series for the other side. If you continue on the same side you maintain a longer tension and the exercise is more difficult

Muscles involved

The muscles involved are practically all those of the pelvis and thighs. Particularly :

1. Quadriceps

They have to move practically all of their body weight on one leg and also with a lot of control over the movement (which should be done constantly). The ROM of the knee is also large and therefore the work is important.

2. Buttocks

We are talking about gluteus maximus, gluteus medius and gluteus minor. These work hard to stabilize the pelvis, extend and abduct it, and rotate it during the entire repetition.

Generally the gluteus medius and gluteus minimus are not very strong and therefore they are the ones that first give the signs of fatigue. The usefulness of this exercise is also to dynamically train these often ignored muscles.

3. Hip rotators

These muscles are mostly deep stabilizers often not stimulated due to the constant movement only in the sagittal plane.

These muscles are very important for hip health, joint stability and mobility. Ultimately, training these muscles means safeguarding the lower back and knees.

Common mistakes

The errors that occur are mostly due to a lack of motion control:

Knee excessively valgus: the execution of the exercise brings the knee to fall in and to rotate. The aspect of intra rotation is not very controllable because if the foot remains fixed on the ground while the hip rotates, there is necessarily an intra rotation of the knee. However, valgus can be avoided by actively keeping the knee outwards. The condition of intra rotation combined with a valgus strain the knee a lot and therefore it is better to avoid it.

Excessive inclination of the trunk: when you cross your legs, you often tend to bring your torso to the other side to balance the weight. This occurs because the hip is not adducted and therefore the gluteus medius is not eccentrically loaded. It is necessary to push sideways the hip of the foot that remains in support when crossing the legs.

Perform the exercise too quickly: this is not necessarily a mistake but a higher execution speed is generally associated with less control of the movement. As this exercise is very technical, it is certainly a good idea to perform each step slowly to maintain a low-risk attitude during the entire movement.


The positive aspect of this exercise is to work the movements in the frontal and transverse plane. Work in the sagittal plane is something you already have with many other exercises.

A good idea might be to remove sagittal plane instability by leaning your hands forward on something stable. This allows you to concentrate on the work of the pelvis and on the position of the knee, also increasing the ROM of the exercise by working more on the aspects usually lacking in the other exercises.

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