What are the different types of lunges?
Q: My gym has very little equipment for properly working the hamstrings and butt, so I have been forced to use only walking lunges holding dumbbells in each hand to hit these muscle groups. Lunges have worked great, but I’m getting a little tired of doing the same exercise over and over. Are there any different types of lunges that I can mix into my workout to make things more interesting?
Lunges are a great exercise to strengthen and tone the hamstrings and butt, however, people seem to stick with walking lunges when there are many variations you can do with the same equipment. Here are four of the most overlooked types of lunges that are guaranteed to make your legs feel like Jell-O.
The reverse lunge is an excellent exercise because it automatically takes pressure off the quads and isolates the hamstrings and thighs with little to no practice. It’s basically a backward lunge, but I love it. It does take a bit more balance than the traditional lunge, but you should feel it working immediately.
To get started, stand with a dumbbell in each hand and your feet together, take a long step backward, bending both knees and landing on your toes leaning forward over your body. When your back knee is about two inches off the floor, stop, reverse your motion and return to the starting position. Repeat for the desired amount of repetitions. When finished, switch legs and apply the same directions to the opposite side. You can increase the reps as you feel more comfortable with the movement.
Side lunges are rarely seen at the average gym but are a very good way to hit the hard-to-reach inner thighs as well as the hamstrings and glutes. To perform a side lunge, stand straight with a dumbbell in each hand. Step diagonally with your right leg while leaving your left foot in place; be sure to keep both feet pointing forward. Bend both knees until the top of your right thigh is parallel to the floor. Now return to the starting position and repeat the process with the left leg and you will have completed one full rep.
Incline lunges are a great way to concentrate on the glutes while also working the hamstrings. This movement is basically a forward lunge onto an incline or box. An incline of 6-8 inches would be a good start. To try incline lunges, follow the same form as the traditional lunge, stepping forward onto the box with your front leg until your knees are approximately 90 degrees, giving your butt and hamstrings an excellent stretch. By lunging onto an incline you will target the glutes much better than a normal walking lunge.
Stationary lunges are perfect for working on balance while targeting a host of lower body muscles. Start by stepping into a lunge with a dumbbell in each hand and lower your body, bending both knees to approximately 90 degrees. Then push back up with both legs, but don’t lock out at the top or step back to the starting position, instead descend again into another lunge and repeat the process until the desired amount of reps is finished. Switch legs and start the process all over again. I suggest starting with 6-8 reps at first, as balancing your body will be difficult to start with.
As you can see, there’s no need to drop lunges altogether; just alternate the above lunge variations into your training and add a little excitement to your leg workout.