Lunging Around: 5 Different Lunge Exercises to Try
by Autumn Jones
The lunge has been a go-to exercise for years — and its staying power is no coincidence. In fact, powering through a few good lunge exercisesmight just be one of the best things you can do on your fitness journey!
So, Why Lunges?
Looking to strengthen a long list of muscle groups? Consider the lunge your one-stop shop. As Fitness Magazine explains, "Lunges train your glutes, hamstrings, quads, and core," as well as help you burn more calories. And thanks to the activation of those core muscles, lunges help improve your balance (which can be key to preventing falls and injuries).
Aside from strengthening your lower half, lunge workouts are great because they can be done anywhere with nothing but your own body weight. If you're traveling or can't make it to the gym, lunges are the perfect way to stick with your fitness routine.
How to Do a Lunge
Good form should always be a priority when you're exercising, and a lunge is no exception! To avoid joint stress — or worse, injury — be sure to follow these four steps for top-notch lunge execution:
- Stand up straight and look ahead of you. To keep your spine positioned correctly and shoulders aligned with your hips, tighten your core muscles. Then, find a spot or object in front of you to stare at, as Shape suggests.
- Once you're steady, step forward with your right leg and lower yourself toward the floor until both knees form 90-degree angles.
- Keeping your knee in a vertical line with your ankle, shift your weight to your heels and push off your right foot, coming back to the standing pose you started in.
- Repeat with the left leg.
Keeping Lunges Fresh
While there's nothing wrong with the classic version of the lunge, it can help to switch things up every now and then. If you're looking to freshen up the lunge, try these five variations:
1. Reverse Lunge
This one is as straightforward as it sounds. To do a reverse lunge, begin just as you would for a regular lunge but instead of stepping forward, take a step backward. As Men's Journal points out, the reverse lunge is a good option for people with knee issues, since it can be easier on joints.
2. Reverse With a Kick
Raise the stakes of a reverse lunge by adding in a kick! As you return to standing by pushing off your back leg, kick that leg out in front of you before returning it to the ground. This not only adds some flair to your workout, but it also helps work your core muscles.
3. Lateral Lunge
As Women's Health explains, this lunge exercise is performed by moving your leg out to the side instead of in front of you. Keeping your leftleg straight, step out with the right and bend your knee as you lower your body into a modified squat position. Then return to the starting position and repeat on the other side.
4. Curtsy Lunge
Begin in the classic lunge position. Now take a bigger-than-usual step back with your right leg and cross it behind your left leg before lowering both knees down to form 90-degree angles. Once you return to standing, repeat with the opposite leg.
5. Lunge With a Biceps Curl
Looking to add an extra challenge to your lunge workout? Grab a set of dumbbells to curl as you lunge. This turns a single movement into a full-body experience, allowing you to work multiple muscle groups at once.
If you want to incorporate these lunges into your gym routine, skip the leg press machine and select one or two of the above lunge variations instead. Between sets, complete a series of pushups or some shoulder exercises to work the upper body as well.
You don't have to wait until your next gym visit to try these lunge exercises. You can take a break from sitting at your desk and do five reps on each leg. Or set a timer while watching TV and perform lunges until the alarm sounds. Take advantage of this accessible exercise and watch as you become stronger and your balance improves!
As always, please consult with a physician prior to beginning any exercise program. See full medical disclaimer here.