They say that variety is the spice of life. And variety is also a spice that can keep your workout routine from becoming too same-old-same-old, been-there-done-that boring. Keeping up a fitness regimen can be daunting, and when complacency or boredom strikes it’s easy to want to bow out of working out altogether.
That’s why lunges can be your friend. One of the best things about lunges is that you can do them almost anywhere. So, if you can’t muster the motivation or energy to get yourself to the gym, your living room, your bedroom, or your office will work just as well.
Master the Basic Lunge
There are countless variations on the classic lunge, but first you should master the main movement of the standard lunge and understand what a lunge does.
It works several muscle groups simultaneously, including your glutes, your hip flexors, your hamstrings and your quadriceps (thighs). Yes, a killer lower-body burn!
Before you try any lunge variations, make sure you master the proper form for a basic lunge. This is generally known as the “bodyweight lunge” which—as you probably guessed—uses your own body weight. Keep in mind that you’ll use your abdominals and your back muscles as stabilizers for all the lunging exercises, so your core will be getting a workout as well.
Ready for your first lunge? Keep your upper body straight, with your shoulders back and as relaxed possible. Put your hands on your hips and choose something directly in front of you to focus on so you’re not looking down.
Next, you’ll step forward with one leg, lowering your hips until both knees are bent at roughly 90-degree angles. Pause, then push yourself back up to the starting position, and repeat.
Now you’ve done a lunge!
Lunge Variation: Bicep Curl
You can ratchet things up a notch by adding some weight to the lunge. Grab a pair of dumbbells and do a bicep curl as you lunge. Rather than keeping your hands on your hips, hold the weights at your sides, and curl the weights up as you lunge down.
Of course, you’ll want to master the basic lunge—and your balance—before you add weights to your workout
Lunge Variation: Clock Lunge
The next lunge we’ll cover is what’s often called the “clock lunge” because you will pivot around like the hands on a wall clock as you lunge. (NOTE: For those who only know their smartphone clock, the name “clock lunge” might not compute.) This multiple-movement exercise requires that one leg remain grounded in the center position as you pivot around in a circle (yes, like a clock), and lunge forward at 12 o’clock, 3 o’clock, 6 o’clock and back full-circle to 12 o’clock.
After each lunge, you’ll return to a standing position, but you will have completed one forward, two lateral, and one reverse lunge. Then, switch legs so that you are lunging around the “clock” with the opposite leg.
You can hold lunges longer, add more weight to your dumbbells, or more points/times on the clock to challenge yourself. Also, Google or Bing “lunge variations” to see just how many different types of lunges there are to try out so you never bore of the same movements.
Lunges help you build pelvic and knee strength, as well as core stability and allow you to work all those muscles—and your legs—so that you’re ready to hit the gym a bit harder come leg day.
Do you have a favorite lunge variation? Tell us about it below!