For a lot of guys a leg workout consists entirely of squats, deadlifts, perhaps a couple sets of leg extension or hamstring curls, and then it's finished off with calves. While all of these exercises are definitely effective for developing a strong, powerful lower body, there are many more ways to target these muscle groups. By changing around the exercises you perform you'll significantly improve your progress, avoid plateaus and kill workout boredom.
Lunges make for a great addition and will target the quads, hamstrings, glutes, and calves; they’ll also hit the core muscles. However, don't let yourself get stuck on the standard lunge. The following variations add challenge, boost strength and will keep your workout feeling fresh so you're motivated to stick with it.
If your leg workout out has become a drag, kill workout boredom with these lunge variations.
1. Stationary split squat lunge
The stationary split squat is great for working on any muscular imbalances as well as improving balance and coordination. This move targets the glutes and abs as you struggle to maintain balance.To begin, place one leg up on a bench immediately behind you. From there, bend your standing leg so that you move into a traditional lunge position with that leg elevated. Once you've hit the bottom, rise up once again to complete the rep. Complete all reps before changing sides.Be sure when executing this lunge variation that you aim to keep your body as upright as possible and don’t let your bending knee extend past your toes.
2. Reverse lunge
The reverse lunge is great if you’re looking for a quad workout and are easily able to perform the basic forward lunge. This lunge variation transfers much of the stress from your hamstring and places it directly on your quads.You may want to perform these without weights until you get used to the movement pattern, and then from there add dumbbells, holding one in each hand. Be sure you are also in a large area that's wide open so that you don't feel as though you may run into something.When you're ready, slowly take one step behind you and bend both legs so you move into the traditional lunge position. Usually you will adjust your step slightly closer than you would during a standard lunge, which is what causes a higher amount of stress on your quad muscles in the first place.
Once you're in the full lunge position, rise back up and step the opposite leg behind the body, so that you're moving backward across the room doing the reverse lunges.
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3. Lateral lunges
Lateral lunges are a terrific option for those who want to work the inner or outer thighs. Stand with legs about shoulder width apart, knees slightly bent and from there, lift one leg off the ground and take a large step sideways. Bend at both knees until your lower your body is close to the ground and then rise up once again while you bring the stationary leg to meet the other. Repeat the process over again until all reps have been completed and you have traveled across an empty room.
4. Jump lunges
If you're looking to develop your explosive force and power (which includes your vertical jump), the jump lunge is a great option. These are traditionally performed without weights, however, if you find that too easy, you can add some light weights, held down at your sides.To perform these, step forward so that one foot is in front of the other with a comfortable distance between them. From there, begin to bend your knees so you move into the lunge position. Once you're fully lowered into position, explode upward so you lift off the ground, switching legs while you are in midair. Land with your feet in switched positions and immediately move back down into the lunge on that side.Be sure when executing this exercise to land with your knees over your toes in order to prevent injury from occurring.
5. Lunge with knee raise
The lunge with a knee raise is going to improve your balance while strengthening your hamstring, so it’s a good option if you’re looking for a change. To perform it, step forward with one foot and proceed to perform the standard lunge. As you rise back up, rather than stepping forward with the next foot, bring your back leg forward and raise it up so that your knee aims to touch your chest. From there, push it down and move directly into a lunge with that leg.
Variety is the Spice
To help increase your results, try to add one of these variations along with your squats next time you're doing a leg workout. By changing the lunge variation you do every two to three weeks you can be sure that you’re keeping the lower body stimulated so you see continual strength gains as you move through the program.