The lunge is an easy and efficient lower-body exercise that can be performed simply using your own body weight or adapted in a number of variations. Considered one of the best leg exercises, the lunge is great for toning your lower body because it works pretty much every leg muscle as well as your glutes.
The best part about the lunge is its versatility. You can modify it to perform a variety of exercises. Not only will it spice up your workout, you’ll activate different muscle groups and prevent a fitness plateau.
First, let’s make sure you’ve got the proper form for the basic lunge and then we’ll kick it up a notch with four lunge variations.
#1: The Lunge
To perform a lunge keep your upper body straight, shoulders back and chest out while squeezing your abs to engage your core. Step forward several feet with your right foot, landing heel first. Bend your right and left leg down until both legs are bent at 90 degrees (never more) and your left knee is about an inch above the floor. Make sure your knee doesn’t extend further than your toes. Keep your body upright and work to keep your balance by not wobbling from side to side. Lift your body up and bring your hips forward until you’re standing straight again. Repeat lunging forward with your left foot.
Muscles worked: Front leg- hamstrings and glutes; Back leg- quadriceps
#2: BOSU Ball Lunges
For a harder alternative, perform a lunge on a BOSU ball by stepping forward onto the BOSU ball.
Make it a back lunge by standing on the BOSU ball and stepping back into a lunge alternating your legs. The BOSU ball is an added challenge because it makes it harder to balance on your legs.
Want to take it one step further? Hold free weights in each hand as you lunge.
#3: Back Lunge with Side Shoulders
Begin by placing the resistance band in your hands and stepping in the middle of the band with your left foot. Step back with your right foot, bending into the 90 degree angle while simultaneously raising your arms to shoulder-height.
Make sure to keep your abs tight, back upright, and your arms straight. Perform 10-20 back lunges with your right leg and then switch to the left.
This exercise can also be done with free weights instead of the resistance band.
#4: Lunge with Side Twist
Holding a kettle bell or weight, step forward with your left foot in a lung position, making sure that your knee doesn’t go over the line of your foot. From your torso, twist your upper body to the left while reaching across your left side with your arms out-stretched.
Be careful not to twist at the knee!
Step back to a standing position and repeat with the right foot in front. You’ll want to make sure that you’re twisting to the same side as whatever leg is in front.
#5: The Jump Lunge
If you’re looking to get your heart rate up, incorporate more cardio, and kick your workout into high gear, there’s nothing better than the jump lunge! Begin by performing the basic lunge. Engage your core and push off the bottom of both feet into a jump while switching your feet in midair and landing back in a basic lunge. Make sure you’ve mastered the basic lunge and keep your form in check as you jump it out.
This exercise works well with High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) workouts, such as Tabata; alternating between 20 seconds of max training and 10-second rest periods for a total of eight rounds.
So there you have it- five killer modifications for the lunge that will tone and tighten your legs, lift your booty, strengthen your core, and will result in healthy weight loss.
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