Benefits Of Lunges & Variations To Challenge You

Lunges are great exercises to promote muscle growth, balance, and even weight loss and should be a staple in your leg day routine.

Leg day can be challenging for a number of reasons. Too often do we want to work those big vanity muscles that make our physique really pop, but the dread of knowing we need to do leg day forces us to do so. Once we start, it can be easy to get wrapped up in the same old exercise that we have always done and while they are great to perform, choosing the right exercises to challenge ourselves can be difficult to find. With so many exercises out there, and so many voices telling us which ones to perform, it can be easy to get wrapped up in our own heads.

Lunges are a great lower body exercise with plenty of benefits that we should absolutely include in our workouts. Athletes of all sports rely on lunges to enhance their goals and work to power their training so that desired leg growth, as well as added balance and support, are there to advance every goal we seek to fulfill. This resistance exercise is awesome for us to strengthen many muscle groups while giving us the satisfaction of knowing we’ve done everything we can to advance our goals and make the most out of what could have been a dreaded leg day.

Let’s take a closer look at lunges to see just how great this lower body exercise really is. Whether you choose to use added weight or not, lunges have great benefits and variations to really challenge you to be better than the day before.

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Muscle Worked By Lunges

Lunges work all of the major muscle groups of your lower body, while enhancing the smaller stabilizer muscles that are often overlooked. The main muscles worked by lunges include your quads, hamstrings, glutes, and calves to give you a great sculpt from the waist down.

It should also be noted that your back and hips get extra work done, as well as upper body muscle if you choose to use a weight like a dumbbell or kettlebell.

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Benefits Of Lunges

Muscle Growth For Strength & Size

Working your lower body leg muscles in an effective way, you will start to see that desired growth really become reality (1). Not only will this promote strength and size but will also lower your risk of injury, both in your legs and in your back. Since this relies on your core for that added support, especially on one leg, you start to see great gains in your core for the desired six-pack aesthetic.

Weight Loss For A Desired Physique

Lunges can work to raise your heart rate to really get your metabolism going which allows for increase calorie burn and a reduction in body fat. Of course, a well balanced diet and all-around solid workout plan is needed, but lunges provide that extra boost to help you lose weight and see that desired physique (2).

Balance & Stability For Added Support

As a unilateral exercise, lunges will enhance overall balance and stability which will come in handy for those big lifts as you seek to put up monster weight (3). By working one leg only, you become less stable, but over time this will change especially as more muscle is packed on.

Simple & Convenient To Do Anywhere

Able to do as a bodyweight exercise, lunges are simple and convenient and can be done anywhere at anytime for that optimal output you desire most. Easy to learn and adapt to with variations, you will start to love what a lunge can do for you.

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How To Do A Traditional Bodyweight Lunge

The traditional lunge is a basic exercise to really enhance your overall training and performance goals. Start in an upright and strong, stable position. Step one foot forward in front of you and bend the knee to a 90-degree angle. Your thigh will be parallel to the ground and your knee on the extended foot should not go past the foot of that same leg. Drive through the ground and lift up to the starting position. Alternate legs and perform for your desired number of reps.

Variations Of Lunges To Challenge You

Reverse Lunge

Reverse lunges are a simple variation to learn as it is a traditional lunge just done backwards. What it will do is take less pressure off your knees since the larger muscle groups will take more of the load as opposed to a traditional forward lunge. This is great for those who experience knee pain often (4).

How to: Start in the same position as the traditional lunge which is upright. Step one foot backward and bend the knee toward the ground. Your thigh will still be parallel to the ground. Driving through the ground, push your leg back to the starting position.

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Jump Lunge

The jump lunge will start to get your cardio involved and is a solid plyometric exercise. This will fire up all of your leg muscles while elevating your heart rate for a great calorie burn. For those looking to add cardio into their lunges, this is a great variation to do so.

How to: With an engaged core and solid posture, step forward into a normal lunge. Drive through your foot and explode into a jump, switching legs in the air and landing with the other leg in front of you. Perform for the desired number of reps and maintain solid form throughout.

Curtsy Lunge

The curtsy lunge will challenge you in terms of movement and really work your core with an added component of extra balance. It is important to keep your upper body straight and forward as your leg crosses over.

How to: Start with your feet hip width apart. Step back with one leg, crossing it behind the other and bend both knees towards the floor. Your front leg will be at a 90-degree angle. Drive up and return to the starting position.

Wrap Up

Lunges are a great exercise to include in your daily leg routine for the many benefits and overall challenge that comes with them. Able to provide for muscle growth, calorie burn, and added balance and stability, lunges should be a staple in those leg day workouts. Adding challenging variations can be a fun way to crush the monotony of a boring leg day and enhance even more gains you wish to see. Add lunges into your workout routine and see what this exercise can do for your training and performance goals.

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*Images courtesy of Envato

References

  1. Jakobsen, Markus D.; Sundstrup, Emil; Andersen, Christoffer H.; Aagaard, Per; Andersen, Lars L. (2013). “Muscle activity during leg strengthening exercise using free weights and elastic resistance: Effects of ballistic vs controlled contractions”. (source)
  2. Wing, Rena R.; Phelan, Suzanne (2005). “Long-term weight loss maintenance”. (source)
  3. Jonhagen, Sven; Ackermann, Paul; Saartok, Tonu (2009). “Forward lunge: a training study of eccentric exercises of the lower limbs”. (source)
  4. Fischer, Kim E.; Walter, Teri; Matovich, Joseph (2011). “Exercise Technique: Reverse Lunge Into a Step-Up”. (source)