Lunges are among the best exercises to enhance one's posture, simple but deceptively difficult to execute properly (you can think of them as controlled falling). Like so many exercises in this book, lunges require patience and repetition to achieve the perfection that maximizes core muscle tone and improves spinal stability.

Lunges increase the muscle tone of the gluteus, quadriceps, and hip flexor muscles, while stretching the quadriceps of the rear leg. The addition of hand weights to the routine not only increases the effort of the lower extremities and therefore the gain, but it engages the muscles of the upper extremities and trunk as well. Lowering the height of the hand weights also lowers the body's center of gravity, adding stability and ease to the lunges (think high-wire artist); the opposite, lifting the weights higher, increases the degree of difficulty of the exercises. Begin with the easier exercise variations first until you feel ready to try the more difficult ones.

The Forward Arm Raise variation, pictured here, is the best lunge because the position of the weights shifts the center of gravity of the trunk high up and to the front, thus activating the posterior muscles of the upper, middle, and lower spine, so important for posture maintenance. This particular lunge holds an extra level of difficulty, which is more than rewarded by improving your stance and balance.