Lunges are a fantastic leg exercise for both males and females to perform; although they focus mainly on the quadriceps, the glutes and hamstrings play a big part in the movement due to the large range of motion, making lunges a very popular exercise for building the glutes and hamstrings as well.
There are a number of different lunge variations you can perform, including: bodyweight, dumbbell, kettle bell and barbell!
Check out our video on how to do lunges and the best variations!
Walking and Stationary
Lunges can be performed either stationary or while walking. Static lunges target one leg at a time and require a slower eccentric contraction when lowering down due to their being more emphasis on the glutes and hamstrings; during the concentric contraction the quadriceps are activated by straightening your leg and returning back to the starting position.
Walking lunges focus a lot more on the quadriceps and just use the trailing leg for balance; once you’ve pushed off from the lowest point of the lunge where your knee is almost touching the ground, you’ll stride forwards and begin lunging with the alternate leg.
Stationary Lunge Technique Breakdown (Body-weight)
1) Begin standing with your feet shoulder width apart and place your hands on your hips for stability
2) Step forwards with one leg and descend into the eccentric contraction by bending your front knee until your it’s slightly above floor level
3) Use your rear foot to balance by coming forwards slightly onto your toes (living your heel from the floor on the rear foot)
4) Straighten your front leg by driving through your heel. Simultaneously, straighten your rear leg on the way back up as well.
This will bring you back to the starting position; continue for your desired amount of repetitions.
Tips | Keep your head facing forwards and back straight; keep chest pushed out; breathe in on the eccentric movement and exhale when performing the concentric contraction back into the starting position.
Walking Lunge Technique Breakdown (Bodyweight)
1) Begin standing with your feet shoulder width apart and place your hands on your hips for stability.
2) Step forwards with one leg and descend into the eccentric contraction by bending your front knee until your it’s slightly above floor level.
3) Use your rear foot to balance by coming forwards slightly onto your toes (living your heel from the floor on the rear foot).
4) Straighten your front leg by driving through your heel and begin to step forwards with the alternate l
5) Once your alternate leg is safely planted in front, begin the same motion and continue the exercise leading with that opposite leg.
Tip | In order to create more resistance when lunging, you can add weight by using either kettle bells, dumbbells or a barbell. These methods have been explained below:
Dumbbell & Kettlebell Lunges
Perform these lunges the same as you would with the bodyweight method, while holding onto either a pair of dumbbells or kettle bells in your hands. Maintain a tight posture and do not allow your back to slouch through the movement.
The barbell lunge requires you to place the barbell behind your neck. With this being the case, stationary lunges are the safest method to use.
In order to perform barbell lunges stationary, you’ll use a squat rack. This will enable you to un-rack and re-rack the weight, and give you somewhere to dump the weight safely if the load becomes too much.
To start the exercise: Approach the bar inside the squat rack exactly how you would to squat; un-rack the weight and hold the bar securely. Take a step backwards and perform your standing lunges in front of the rack.
To finish the exercise: Finish with your legs at shoulder width apart, cautiously talk a step forwards and re-rack the barbell.
Use a friend to help place a barbell across your upper back, or un-rack from a squat rack and turn in the opposite direction to perform the walking lunges.
If using a friend, make sure the load is light enough to be easily unmounted from your person. If using the squat rack, make sure that the surrounding area is safe for you to be performing the walking lunges in by possibly setting out some cones for your walkway to let people know you’re using the area for the exercise.
Take home message
Use one of these many lunge variations to add some resistance to lunges and increase hypertrophy in your legs!