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  • Writer's pictureKeep It Moving PT & Wellness

Week 19: Lateral Lunge to a Heel Ramp with a Dumbbell

Updated: Oct 16, 2023

For the month of October, we have selected hiking specific exercises that will help prepare you for a more adequate navigation of uneven terrain often found on hiking trails

Purpose: To load primarily the lateral hip and thigh muscles in the frontal plane with a hip dominant/hinging movement pattern. The purpose of the heel ramp is to allow for a deeper hip hinge in the frontal plane, and to put increase demand on the lateral chain of muscle from hip to foot

What It Targets: Loading of the Lateral Hip Muscles: Gluteus Medius, Gluteus Minimis, Gluteus Maximum, Hip Internal and External Rotators; Loading of the Lateral Lower Leg Muscles: Quadriceps, Hamstrings, Peroneals, Foot Intrinsics


  1. Stand with your feet together and weight (Dumbbell) in the hand opposite of the lunging leg

  2. Place a heel ramp, wedge, or towel roll about 1.5 feet to the side of your lunging leg

  3. Keeping your feet in line, step onto the ramp as you hinge at the hip of the lunging leg

  4. Keep your elbow straight and aim the dumbbell over the foot of the lunging leg

  5. Be sure to keep your feet, shins and thighs parallel, and spine straight as you hinge at the hip

  6. Weight should be evenly distributed throughout the foot, keeping heel firmly planted on the floor

  7. Return to upright standing with feet together

  8. Repeat as prescribed

Main Cues:

  • Load the lateral hip muscles by hinging at the hip and sticking your butt back

  • Keep spine straight as you hinge

  • Keep foot, shin and thigh of working leg in line with working hip

  • Maintain even weight distribution throughout the entire foot (heel, big toe knuckle, pinky toe knuckle aka “Tripod” of foot)

Common Compensations/Adverse Effects:

  • Excessive fatigue in quad rather than hip muscles

Correction: You may be using a knee dominant strategy instead of a hip dominant strategy. Bend/hinge more at the hip and stick your butt back further to achieve more hip flexion/hinge

  • Discomfort in low back

Correction: Maintain tension in core and avoid bending (flexion) or arching (extension) of your low back (Lumbar Spine) throughout the entire movement. Spine position should remain neutral throughout the whole movement.

  • Pain in hip of lunging leg

Correction: Reduce depth of lunge to pain-free point

  • Feeling of instability or loss of balance

Correction: Reduce depth of lunge to a range of motion that is challenging but that you are still able to control

Why We Love It:

  • Loads a plane of movement (frontal plane) that is often neglected in functional and recreational training movements

  • Utilizes a hip dominant loading strategy in a quad dominant world

  • Properly loads the hip so the low back and the knees don’t have to work so hard and risk being overused

  • HIKING SPECIFIC: Utilizing a ramp is an introductory challenge that simulates the uneven terrain often found on hiking trails

*Disclaimer: Not all exercises are suitable for everyone, and participation in novel activities may increase the risk of adverse effects such as pain, soreness, or injury. Please consult with your Physician or a local Physical Therapist prior to attempting any exercise you feel uncomfortable performing. If adverse reactions occur, discontinue performance of the exercise and consult your physician or trusted clinician for evaluation.


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