If you are looking to tone your lower legs and want an easy and effective workout that doesn't center around boring old squats and deadlifts, try incorporating a lunge variations into your workout. Lunges are an under-appreciated and overlooked addition to your workout, with many people growing weary with the boredom that can come with the simplicity of a lunge workout. But we are here to tell you that all of that is about to change! Lunges are an incredible workout that is actually safer on your knees and legs than other workouts such as squats according to a study performed by the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. Lunges utilize one side of your body to distribute weight, meaning that you will need less resistance within your movement than you would with squats or deadlifts. Lunges are also shown to strengthen your lower body, legs, and tissue within your body, while also providing improved core strength, spinal health, and hip flexibility. If you are looking to incorporate more lunges into your workout, here are the best lunge workouts to add to your routine:
First Off, How Do You Lunge Properly
Before starting to add lunge variations to your routine, it is important to ensure you are properly doing a lunge before anything else. It is essential to remain in proper posture as you can easily damage your joints and cause injury. In order to do a proper lunge, you should:
- Stand straight while keeping your upper back and body straight. Keep your shoulders back and relaxed with your chin up.
- Keep one leg forward, lowering your hips until your knees both bend at a 90 degree angle. Make sure that your knees and legs are aligned with your ankles, forming a straight line.
- When lunging, ensure that your knee does not hit the floor.
- Place your body weight within your heels.
- Switch feet and repeat the same on the other side.
To also make sure you are not making common mistakes when doing lunges, be aware of these common issues:
- The Tightrope Stance - There is no need to make a lunge extra hard and reduce stability by bringing your foot directly in front of you. Avoid bringing your forward foot directly in line with your back foot as if you were walking on a tightrope as it can drastically cause balance issues.
- The Heel Pop - Avoid taking to short of a lunge that your heel pops up in order to complete the exercise. If you step to shallow, you are putting unnecessary strain on your knee and joints.
- The Upper Body Drop - When doing a lunge, avoid bending at the hips and dropping your lower body. This while not stabilize your core and increase its strength and will also put unneeded strain on your legs.
Once you master the basics of doing a lunge, you can move onto these lunge variations.
Lunge Variation #1: Slider Reverse Lunge
In adding slide lounges to your routine, it completely gets rid of strain and impact that can affect your joints. Starting with a reverse lunge is also easier than doing a forward lunge, which makes this exercise the perfect beginning to your routine! In doing this exercise:
- Start by placing your one of your feet on the slider, placing your toe directly in the middle with your heel on the ground.
- Slide your foot backward and drop your knee to the ground, ensuring that it does not make direct contact with the floor.
- In the bottom position, make sure that both knees are bent at a 90 degree angle, then push forward with your front leg to stand up.
- Do one cycle of reps and then switch to the other foot to repeat.
Lunge Variation #2: Goblet or Dumbbell Forward Lunge
For your next lunge exercise, grab yourself a goblet or dumbbell or some added upper body work and core work when doing this exercise:
- Step forward to lunge, ensuring that your upper body is straight and keeping your posture maintained - the weight from your dumbbell can push you forward, so be aware of when your hips begin to bend and you feel yourself being pushed downward.
- With both hands, hold the weight at chest-height. By holding the weight in front of you, it’s easier to lean back while dropping down into the lunge.
Lunge Variation #3: Pendulum Lunge
A pendulum lunge is a great way to test your balance while improving your core strength and coordination. To do this exercise:
- Step forward and drop your knee into a lunge.
- Push off your front leg and then bring it back into a reverse lunge.
- Drop your knee back down and try driving forward, alternating between a forward and reverse lunge - try avoiding touching the ground with your knee, as your transition between the forward and reverse lunge to test your balance even more.
Split Squat Lunge
This split squat lunge is one of the simplest and easiest of lunge variations, but is one of the most fatiguing and tiring of lunges. To begin:
- Place a soft mat or pad on the ground before doing this workout to ensure less tear on your joints.
- Get into the bottom of a lunge position with one knee on the pad. Both knees should be at a 90 degree angle with your torso upright.
- Keeping your feet in place, lift your off the the pad, variating from up and down.
- At the top, your knees and legs should almost be straight. Complete the desired amount of reps and then switch feet to repeat.
Lunge Variation #4: Skater Squat Lunge
This lunge variation will allow you to test your balance even further, being a fun addition and challenge to your workout! Looking to start a skater squat lunge, begin by:
- Beginning to reverse lunge, bring your back knee towards the ground.
- Your back knee should hit the floor, but your foot should not just your ground or make contact.
- Lean forward and stand up, driving your weight forward through your front leg.
Lunge Variation #5: Walking Lunge
Want to add a little bit of cardio with your lunge workout?
- Begin by being sure there is enough space to move around within the room, having the space needed to perform the exercise.
- With dumbbells in your hand, step forward with one leg while dropping the back leg into a lunge.
- Step forward and bring your legs together, while then moving forward into another lunge while almost walking out of the room or walking until you run out of space.