Lunge Variants

by Louise | August 16th, 2011 | Strength Training

Lunges are one of my favorite strength training exercises. They are great because they can be performed anywhere, they require no additional equipment, and they give you a fantastic workout that you can truly feel. They work a great portion of your lower body including your quads, glutes, hamstrings, and calves, and they also utilize your core and lower back muscles for stabilization.

Best of all, lunges are extremely versatile. Once you’re bored with the basic lunge, you can try one of the following variations to challenge yourself or to simply provide some change to your strength training routine:

  • Side lunges alter the direction lunges. Instead of forward motion, you’re looking for lateral motion. Start by standing with your feet together, and your hands on your hips. Take a large step directly to your left, leaving the other foot firmly planted in its original position. Lunge toward the floor, keeping your trail leg relatively straight. Your left knee should not extend past your toes; stay balanced by bending forward at the hips, not by rounding your back. Push off your left foot to return to your starting position, or push off your right foot to continue the lateral motion. Complete your desired number of repetitions, and then reverse direction.
  • Another way to change the direction of a lunge is to perform backward lunges. Simply bring one foot backward instead of forward to start the lunge. You will feel a difference in the muscle groups used to push back to your starting position.
  • If you carry weights or a medicine ball in your hands while you perform lunges, you can kill two birds with one stone. You will be giving your arms a workout, but you will also make the lunges more difficult by adding to your own body weight. You can make the normal lunge arm motions, or perform a bicep curl as you lift yourself up from the lowest position of each lunge.
  • Break the “right angle” theme of lunges by performing arching low lunges. After you have reached the normal lowest lunge position, press your hips forward, raise your arms straight up, and then slowly arch backward, looking up or toward your hands, being careful not to lose balance. This will add a bit of hip flexor stretching to your strength training routine.

Do you have a lunge variation that you like to perform? Leave a comment!

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All health and fitness information is provided for educational purposes. Please consult with your physician before beginning any exercise regimen.