7 New Ways to Lunge
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The lunge is the quintessential compound lower-body exercise.  When performed properly, it can help to increase hip flexor flexibility and create symmetry throughout your hip and lower extremities, all while enabling the core and posterior muscles to strengthen, tighten, and tone. Another great benefit is that the lunge is “back-friendly” in that, when performed correctly, your chest and back remain tall in their natural positions and do not cause unwanted stress to your lower back. 

To help you enjoy the laundry list of benefits of this functional exercise, I created seven ways you can adapt the lunge. Swap a different variation into your workout from time to time to nix boredom and work new muscles, or perform all seven as a complete lower-body workout: Do each exercise for 60 seconds (for all exercises except Pass the Mustard and Switch Backs, switch legs after 30 seconds), completing as many repetitions as possible. Perform one to three total circuits.

1. Rockin' the Cradle: Begin in a traditional lunge position with left foot forward, both knees slightly bent, and hands firmly on hips to ensure stability and control. Lower body, dropping right knee until it is approximately one inch from the floor. In one explosive action, raise hips, drive left knee toward ceiling, and simultaneously rock all your weight onto right leg. Pause to balance, then return to a lunge.
Coach’s tip: To avoid losing your balance during the "rocking" portion, begin by lifting your knee just a few inches until you become comfortable with the movement. 

RELATED: Before you even attempt any of these, be sure you're performing the basic lunge with proper form.

2. Karate Kick Backs: Begin in a traditional lunge position with left foot forward, both knees slightly bent, and hands firmly on hips. Lower body, dropping right knee until it is approximately one inch from the floor. Kick right heel up to glute. Lower back into a lunge and repeat. 
Coach’s tip: Keep your chin parallel to the floor throughout the entire move to avoid bending too far forward at the hip when you are kicking. 

3. Pass the Mustard: Begin in a traditional lunge position with left foot forward and both knees slightly bent. Fully extend both arms in front and clasp hands. Simultaneously rotate hips and hands 180 degrees toward the right until body completely switches into a right-footed forward lunge. Turn back 180 degrees, returning to a left-footed lunge.
Coach’s tip: Focus on keeping your hips as low to the ground as possible. 

4. Wimbledons: Begin in a traditional lunge position with left foot forward, both knees slightly bent, and hands firmly on hips. Lower body, dropping right knee until it is approximately one inch from the floor. Jump both feet as far as possible to the right. Jump back to starting position and repeat as fast as possible.
Coach’s tip: Keep your chin parallel to the ground and squeeze your shoulder blades together to ensure perfect posture.

RELATED: Get more booty shaping and thigh toning out of your workout with these 12 ways to spice up your squats.

5. Hold Ons: Begin in a traditional lunge position with left foot forward, both knees slightly bent, and hands firmly on hips. Lower body, dropping right knee until it completely rests on the floor. Hold for one second. Drive hips upward until both knees are fully extended without locking out. Retract and repeat as many times as possible. 
Coach’s tip: It is important that your body comes to a complete stop when your back knee rests on the ground in order to accomplish greater strength in the "sticking point," or most difficult portion of an exercise. 

6. Rockin' Horse: Begin in a traditional lunge position with left foot forward, both knees slightly bent, and hands firmly on hips. Lower body, dropping right knee until it is approximately one inch from the floor. Shift all weight onto left foot while lifting right leg off the ground. In one explosive motion, push off of left foot and jump all of that weight onto right foot. Continue jumping to shift weight forward and backward as far as possible as fast as possible. 
Coach’s tip: Visualization works well with this exercise: Pretend you are playing tennis with your feet as the rackets, hitting your weight back and forth. 

RELATED: Need some real visuals for Pinspiration? Check out these 22 images to get you moving.

7. Switch Backs: Think of this as the lunge with a twist. Begin in a traditional lunge position with left foot forward, both knees slightly bent, and hands firmly on hips. Lower body, dropping right knee until it is approximately one inch from the floor. In one quick motion, jump as high as possible and rotate hips 180 degrees to the right. Land in a right-footed lunge and immediately jump up and twist back to the left, landing in the starting position. 
Coach’s tip: This is an advanced move that requires stability and core strength. To ensure proper mechanics and safety, start off slowly. Instead of jumping for height, get yourself off the ground just enough to complete the exercise. Concentrate on form, not number of repetitions.

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