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Barbell lunges are muscle-building exercises that work the glutes, hamstrings and quadriceps. Like other lunge exercises, barbell lunges require the athlete to take a large step and then lower the body toward the floor. What distinguishes barbell lunges is that when the athlete performs the lunge, he or she holds a barbell, with or without weights, behind the neck. This enables the athlete to increase the resistance of the lunge and thus to get a more intense workout than traditional lunges provide.
To perform a barbell lunge, the athlete begins standing straight, with the feet roughly shoulder width apart. The athlete supports a barbell on his or her shoulders while holding to keep it in place. Throughout the exercise, the athlete should keep a firm grip on the barbell and should keep his or her back straight. It is also important to keep the neck straight, because the barbell will be pressed against the neck throughout the exercise.
From this starting position, the athlete takes a large forward step with one leg. Both feet should still be pointing straight ahead. The forward foot will be flat on the ground, but the heel of the rear foot will lift off of the ground.
After having taken this large step, the athlete bends his or her legs in order to lower the body toward the floor. The athlete should bend the knees until they are at a 90-degree angle. If the athlete took a step of the appropriate length, then bending the knees in this way will result in the front knee being directly above the front foot. The knee of the back leg will approach the floor but will not quite touch it.
From this position, the athlete straightens the legs and then pushes off with the front foot in order to return to the original position. He or she can then repeat the process while stepping with the other leg. Throughout the exercise, the barbell should remain in the same position on the athlete's shoulders.
Barbell lunges provide a very good workout for the glutes and leg muscles, especially the quadriceps and hamstrings. Barbell lunges can be an excellent way of building strength and muscle mass in the legs, because the barbell provides additional weight. These lunges also provide a stretch for the hamstrings and calf muscles. There also are variations of barbell lunges, including side lunges and walking lunges performed while holding a barbell.