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5 Flexibility Marks Every Man Should Hit

Improved flexibility can ward off injury. Here's how to find out if you're lacking.

Test #5: Inline Lunge

Although it may look more like a balance test, the inline lunge is a flexibility assessment that can identify differences between the right and left side of the body. By being forced to move in a completely straight line, it's easy to pick up on side-to-side weight shifts during the exercise.

Directions: Hold a dowel rod with both hands on your back as if you were going to do a back squat. Stand with one foot on a line (either draw one out with tape or string or use lines in the floor), take a step forward (about 2-3 feet) with the other leg, making sure to place it on the line as well. With your feet in place and your chest tall, slowly bend your front leg and lower your back knee to the floor in a lunging motion. Stop just before your back knee touches the ground and repeat several times before switching legs.

Results: If you're among the majority of guys, you likely will have one dominant side that will feel more comfortable than the other. Although there are several areas to watch, the most common are the shoulders, lower back, and knees.

Throughout the exercise, the shoulders should be tall, not hunched forward. If your shoulders tend to round forward during the movement, there's a good chance that your chest and lats need some extra work.

The lower back should remain flat through the inline lunge as well. In most cases, the lower back will excessively arch, particularly at the bottom of the movement. In that scenario, the hip flexors are generally tight restricting the hips and not allowing them to move as the back leg goes into extension.

Finally, the knees should track straight out over the toes during the exercise. If they dive in or out, it's a sign that there is likely an imbalance with the muscles of that particular leg. In the majority of cases, the knee will dive inward, indicating that the inner thigh and adductor muscles are too tight pulling the knee in during the lunge.

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