The week is over, and it’s time for leg day. You may have been dreading it, but it’s time to get to work. The back squat is a versatile, full-body move that targets your legs and helps build strength and stability in your lower body. The back squat is excellent because it is versatile and works the whole body. It also helps build strength in the legs and stability in the lower body. Barbell squats enable you to move a large amount of weight.
Deadlifts and squats are the most effective options for building max lower body strength. In other words, squats are essential but are not the only important lower body workout. Any well-rounded program should include lower body routines supplemented with solid leg accessory exercises. That’s where lunges and their variations come in.
The traditional forward Lunge is an exercise that works one side of the body simultaneously. It’s easy to learn and requires no equipment or a lot of space.
You will improve your strength and eliminate muscle imbalances by training one side of your body at a time. Assuming you want a robust, healthy, and efficient squat and deadlift, it is crucial to combat these asymmetries. The better your performance is on big lifts, the more weight you can move.
Lunges are one of the best exercises to do if you want to get results. Not only will working out your lower body muscles help to make them stronger, but it will also help to increase your heart rate and give you a big boost of endorphins.
After you have perfected the forward Lunge, you may be tempted to put it as ‘useful but not enjoyable.’
There are other ways to reap the benefits of unilateral training for your lower body. Many Lunge variations can help you get the most out of your leg day workout.
If your routine lacks balance and strength, try these lunge variations to improve your leg day.
What are lunges good for?
Lunges are a great way to achieve your fitness goals, whether you want to build up your quads, work on your butt muscles, or create more muscular calves. They are good exercises that can be modified to meet your fitness needs, so there is no excuse not to do them.
How many lunges should I do?
To increase your strength, do exercises that require you to rep 8-12 times. This will also help improve the muscle tone in your body. Too easy? Add some weight or slow down the pace. Think slower means easier? Think again. The amount of time your muscles are under tension will be increased, making you work harder.
Muscles Worked by the Lunge
The lunge variation you choose will determine which muscles you work. For example, overhead variations target the shoulders and lats, while reverse lunges with rotation target the obliques. Lunges are lower body exercises that target the major muscles in your legs.
Your quadriceps are essential for pressing through the ground and returning to standing during your Lunge. They also get a perfect stretch when versions are performed with one leg elevated.
Your glute muscles are essential for stabilizing your movement when you lunge. Your glutes also help you to lift yourself from the bottom.
Your hamstrings help support your quads and glutes during lunges. Your shoes play an essential role in keeping you safe while exercising. They help keep your legs stable during the move and then help you stand back up.
How to Integrate Lunges Into Your Program
Lunges are ideal for mixing up your leg routine and taking your lower body workouts to the next level. There are several ways to start incorporating lunges into your current workout routine.
Add Lunges to Your Warm-Ups
You can quickly introduce the move of lunges to your program by adding it to your warm-up. You can use them to prepare your body for exercises that involve using both sides of your body, like back squats and deadlifts. The Lunge is a great way to start your workout routine. It helps improve coordination and balance while isolating muscles that you need to use for more complex exercises.
Warm-ups are a great way to build strength in one arm or leg while improving your balance. The information in this post can be used as a foundation for using lunges for more robust and muscular programming.
Swap Squats for Lunges
You can change your workout by doing lunges instead of squats, particularly during strength-training blocks. Some variations of lunges, like Bulgarian split squats and walking lunges, can be done with a lot of weight. This is a way to increase the stability of your hips and knees and build strong muscles. You do not need to exhaust your body with heavy squats to achieve these things.
If you like to lift weights several times a week, doing lunges instead of squats during one of those days can help your body recover. If you want to focus on lunges, you can create a shorter training cycle devoted to that exercise. If you have strength or muscle imbalances, this can help you fix them.
Use Lunges as Accessory Work
In addition to main strength and power movements, you can make lunges to increase volume in your quads, glutes, and hamstrings. This will help you avoid loading your spine and giving your lower back a break. In addition to working one side at a time, you’ll also benefit from working on your weaker side to improve your overall strength.
The 15 Best Lunge Variations to Level Up Your Leg Day
1. Reverse Lunge
Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart. Ground down into your left foot for balance. Starting with your right foot, take a step backward, then lower your left knee to the floor, so both legs form 90-degree angles. Bend both knees after your right foot touches the ground behind you.
Gently rest your right knee on the ground at a 90-degree angle. Your front leg should be bent at a 90-degree angle. Return to standing by lifting your back foot and bringing it to the starting position. Repeat on the opposite side.
2. Jump Lunge
Position your feet shoulder-width apart, engaging your core and keeping your shoulders back. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, then take a step back with your left leg. Put your weight on the ball of your back foot, and keep your front foot flat on the floor.
While in the air, switch the position of your legs so that your left leg is forward and your right leg is back. Jump explosively, using your arms to help, and land with both knees at 90 degrees, ensuring your chest is lifted. Maintain the same position with your knees and switch which leg is on top.
3. Pendulum Lunge
Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Ground your right foot into the floor for stability. Step back with your left foot when performing a reverse lunge and lower your body until your left knee is bent at least 90 degrees.
When your back knee is close to the ground, stand back up.
Without resting your left foot on the ground, transition immediately into a forward lunge, making sure to tap it lightly as you go. Repeat for reps, then switch sides.
4. Lateral Lunge
Start in a standing position with your feet together, engaging your core. Step to the side, pushing your glutes and keeping your upper back flat.
As you lunge, push through the heel of your front foot and then repeat the movement.
5. Walking Lunge
Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart. Take a step forward with your right foot. Place your feet hip-width apart with your right foot in front of your left foot. Bend your knees to 90 degrees.
When your back leg is almost touching the ground, use your front leg to push yourself back up to a standing position—transition into lunging forward with your next foot.
Repeat the process, alternating legs as you walk.
6. Dumbbell Forward Twist Lunge
Assuming a shoulder-width stance, hold a dumbbell at chest level with your elbows bent. Step forward with your right foot into an essential lunge position, ensuring your front knee is directly over your ankle.
While keeping your hands and weight in the same position, twist your upper body to the right from your midsection. Engage your core and squeeze your glutes.
In one fluid motion, go back to the center and then take a step back to where you started.
7. Skater Squat
Get into a position as if you were going to make a reverse lunge. Bend your back leg. Hold your shin parallel to the ground.
Maintaining this parallel position, descend into a reverse lunge. To keep yourself balanced, extend your arms out in front of you. When you are running, your toes and knee should touch the ground at the same time.
Come back to standing and repeat.
8. Sliding Reverse Lunge
Stand with your back straight and engagement of your core muscles, keeping yourself balanced with your hands on your hips.
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Slide your right foot back and bend your knee until your thigh is parallel to the floor. The back heel should be allowed to lift, but the knee should not touch the base.
Start in the same position, but slide your other leg back this time.
9. Split Squat
Step backward into a reverse lunge, ensuring that your front knee does not extend past your toes. Your front foot should be planted, and both your knees should be at 90 degrees when you sink into your Lunge.
Push down through your front foot to come back up to standing. Keep your feet where they are. Sink back down into another rep.
Repeat for repetitions, then switch sides.
10. Runner’s Lunge
Go into a low lunge with your back knee on the floor. Jump up, bring your back knee toward your chest, and land on your other foot.
Standing with your feet together and your arms at your sides, slowly raise your left leg as high as you can without arching your back. Pause, return to the start position, and repeat with your right leg. Stand with your feet together and raise one leg at a time, keeping your back straight.
11. Front Foot-Elevated Reverse Lunge
When doing this movement, ensure that your front foot is placed on a low step or bumper plate. Step backward into a lunge, keeping your front knee over your ankle and your back knee straight or hovering just above the floor.
Rise back into standing. Repeat for reps and switch sides. Keep your chest tall and your hips squared throughout to perform the movement correctly.
12. Reverse Overhead Lunge
Start with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding the dumbbell in front of your chest.
Lift the dumbbell above your head, careful not to lock your elbow completely. There should be a slight bend at the elbow.
Take a giant step back with one foot, lowering your knee to the ground. Keep your chest and gaze upwards.
Step your foot back forwards to meet the other. Alternate legs when making lunges or stick with one leg, then swap.
13. Tempo Lunge
Say your tempo sequence is 3-1-1-0. You will spend three seconds lowering down into your Lunge.
Spend one-second holding at the bottom. Push up to standing in one second. Don’t waste any time resting at the top of your next rep. Repeat for reps.
14. Sliding Reverse Lunge
Start by standing with your feet hip-width apart and keeping your back straight. Engage your core muscles to help keep your balance. Keep your hands in front of your chest to stay balanced. Place your left foot on a slider.
Step your left foot backward while maintaining your balance. Bend your knee until your right thigh is at a 90-degree angle. You can allow your back heel to lift, but try to keep your knee from touching the floor.
Slide back to the starting position. Repeat, making sure to do both legs.
15. Overhead Split Squat
Take a split squat with your back leg positioned so both legs will be at a 90-degree angle when you lunge down.
Press or snatch a pair of weights overhead. Place your palms facing each other with a grip that is neither tight nor loose. To engage your lats, pull your shoulders down and set them without bending your elbows.
Maintaining an overhead position, sink into your Lunge. Repeat for reps.
Lunge it Out!
Lunges may not seem exciting, but many people who lift weights do them anyway because they are effective. Pilates exercises may seem easy, but they are pretty challenging and can help improve strength and coordination in the lower body.
If you want to add some new exercises to your routine to make your leg day better, think about doing some different types of lunges.