How to do it: With your abs gently contracted and hands on hips, take a big step forward with your right foot. Sink down so your right knee is at a 90-degree angle, then push back to the starting position without pausing. Repeat 8 to 12 times, then switch legs and repeat.
What it does: Improves whole-body control, which is key to protecting the spine during walking, running, or stair-climbing. Recruits both surface and deeper stabilizing muscles along the sides, glutes, hamstrings, quads, and calves.
Make it harder: Set up to do a basic lunge, but this time step your right foot out on a diagonal, not straight ahead, as if the foot is pointing to 2 o’clock on a clock face. (When you lunge with the left foot, step it out to 10 o’clock.) The change in foot placement makes it harder to balance. As you get stronger, try it with your hands interlaced behind your head or hold a dumbbell in each hand to increase resistance.