Lunges are one of the best exercises you can do for your legs. Like squats, they work all the leg muscles but they have the added advantage that they also work the core and improve movement control skills. This lunges workout uses 3 variations – forward, back and pulse lunges to increase variety and work the leg muscles in slightly different ways.
Who this workout is for
It’s very focused on the muscles at the top of the legs and so could be quite challenging if you aren’t currently doing any exercise. If you’re a beginner, reduce the number of reps of each exercise and build up gradually.
What you can expect from it
This workout will increase your leg strength and firm up the tops of your legs. It trains the muscles used in walking and running and improves flexibility. It also challenges the core stabilising muscles, so will improve abdominal tone.
What you will need
You don’t need anything other than clothes that allow you to move freely. Trainers aren’t necessary, but make sure your feet can grip – wearing socks on a hard floor won’t give you enough grip.
Lunges workout – the exercises
Warm up first
In the lunge, muscles are stretched more than they usually are in every day life. Lunges also challenge balance, strength and coordination more than every day movements. So you need to give your muscles a chance to warm up. Start off by doing some toe taps behind.
- Stand with feet hip distance apart
- Take your right leg out behind your body and tap your toes to the floor
- Bring your leg back to starting position and then repeat on the left
- Do 20 of these on each side
Exercises for the main workout
- Stand with your feet about hip distance apart
- Make sure you keep your abdominal muscles engaged (see here for more about this), your shoulders relaxed down and your back straight throughout
- Take one out behind you and touch your toes to the floor. Make sure you keep your feet hip width apart.
- Now bend at both knees, so that you lower your body towards the floor. At the end of the movement, your thighs should be parallel with the floor, your front knee should be bent to 90 degrees and in line with your ankle, your back knee should be just above the floor.
- To return, push off the floor with your back foot and straighten your body as you bring your foot back to its starting position.
The forward lunge is a bit harder to do with good control and exercise technique than the reverse lunge.
- The instructions for the forward lunge are very similar, except that to start the movement you take your leg out in front of you and put the whole foot on the floor. As you bend at the knees and lower your body, your back heel lifts up.
- To return, push off the floor with the front foot.
For both versions, stay focused on these technique points:
- Keep your ab muscles engaged – this will help you to keep the movement controlled
- Your back should be vertical (don’t lean forwards or backwards)
- Always keep your feet at hip width with your toes pointing forwards – don’t let your back foot turn out
- Make sure your front knee is directly above your ankle and not coming forward over your toes
- Get into the lunge position (it doesn’t matter whether you step forwards or backwards, the end position is the same).
- From here, do small pulse movements (1-2 inches) up and down.
How to do the lunges workout
Before doing this workout, please read the general safety guidelines here. There are 3 sets in this workout. The number of reps for each set are shown below and on the printable download.
The first 2 exercises in the routine are alternate leg lunges. Then there is a set of pulses on each leg before moving on to sets of lunges on the same leg. Work through all the exercises doing the number of repetitions shown for set 1, then start again and do the number shown for set 2. Then start again one last time and do the reps shown for set 3.
Try to do this workout at least twice a week, ideally 3 times on non-consecutive days.
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