Fit Focus: My Favorite Leg Exercises – Lunges

I wanted to continue on this Friday with another post talking about some of my favorite ways to kill my legs get lean and muscular legs. Last week I posted about squats, and some of the variations that I often include in my workouts.

This Friday I wanted to talk about another one of my favorite leg exercises; the lunge. The lunge is a fantastic exercise for increasing leg and hip strength. Lunges also promote hip flexibility which is a huge plus if you play sports or run.
I also love lunges because you can do them anywhere without equipment, and there are many variations of lunges so you never get bored!

Of course, when doing lunges you can always add dumbbells or a barbell to add weight and an extra challenge to your body. I like to do a little of both when doing a leg workout.
Weighted exercises+bodyweight exercises+plyometrics=Beach ready legs! 

Here are some lunge variations for you to add to your workout routine:

Forward Lunge – start from a standing position step forward with your right leg and lunge until your left knee is just above the floor. Focus on dropping your hips downward, not forward, making sure you right knee does not push forward over you toes.  Push through your right heel to come back up to the start. Then repeat on your left leg. Alternating until your set is finished.

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Reverse Lunge – Start from a standing position, and instead of stepping forward like in the basic front lunge, step backward with your right leg and drop into the lunge position. Again keeping your back straight, and chest up and concentrate on dropping your hips downward. Push through your left heel and come back up to the start. Repeat again on your other leg. This lunge focuses more on your quads and glutes than a forward lunge.

Walking Lunge– Execute a forward lunge, but instead of returning to the start push through your heel up, swing your other leg forward and lunge right away on the other leg. Keep moving forward, lunging on one leg, then the other. As if you were taking steps lunging.
In motion – Walking lunge

Lateral Lunge – From a wide stance, feet a little wider than shoulder width. Smoothly lunge down to the left side. Keep your chest up, and back straight, again concentration on dropping down, and not leaning forward. Push through your left foot back up to the start. Repeat on your right leg.
In motion – Lateral Lunge

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Around the Clock Lunges – Start standing up straight with your legs together envision you are standing in the middle of a clock face.
– You will step your right foot out towards 12:00 and lunge down, (just like a front lunge), push through your heel and come back to the start.
– Next step your right foot out to 3:00 (like a lateral lunge), push through your foot back to the start.
– Next step back with your right foot to 6:00 (like a reverse lunge), lunging downward. Push back to start.
– Last step your left foot out to 9:00 (like another lateral lunge to the other side), push through your foot back to the start.
Then switch legs, making your right leg the anchor leg and lunging around the clock with your left leg.

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Curtsy Lunge – Start standing with your feet hip width apart, and then, keeping your weight on your left foot, take a big step back with your right leg, crossing it behind your left leg (as if about to do a ‘curtsy’). Slowly bend your knees and lower your body straight down until your front thigh is parallel to the floor, and both knees are bent. Push through your left foot to return to the start. Do the same on the right side.

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Lunge & Twist –  Stand with feet about shoulder width apart. Hold a light dumbbell (optional)  in front of you.  Step forward with your left foot into a lunge position. Be sure to keep your knee over your left foot; don’t twist at the knee. From your core, twist your upper body to the left. Then, reach across your left side with your arms out-stretched. Slowly move your arms back to the center and push back to start. Complete the exercise on your other leg.
In motion – Lunge & Twist

Jumping lunges – Starting with your feet together jump up in the air and land in a lunge with your right foot in front and your left behind you. Make sure you keep your chest up and concentrate on dropping your hips down and not leaning forward. From the lunge position, push through your feet jumping into the air, switch your legs in the air (like a scissors) and land in a lunge position but this time with your left foot in front and your right behind you. Keep jumping and switching legs in the air each time.
*I like to set my timer for 30s/45s/ or 1 minute and do as many jumping lunges as I can in that time. It makes a great cardio burst during a weight lifting session. 

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 Create your own lunge workout – 
Beginners –
pick 3 of the above lunge exercises and do 3 sets of 20 reps/each leg = 6 sets total
Intermediate –
pick 4 of the above lunge exercises, do 3 sets of 20 reps/each leg = 12-15 sets total
Advanced –
pick 5 of the above lunge exercises, do 4 sets of 20 reps/each leg= 20 sets total
**for an extra challenge add 1 set of 15 jumping lunges in between every 4 sets = 20 sets + 5 sets jumping lunges

A lunge workout would be great for jotting down in your workout journal, and taking with you when you travel!

Friday Questions:
What leg exercise do you love to do? Which one do you
 dread?
I love deadlifts, there’s just something about them that makes my legs feel strong. And I dread doing lateral lunges. My hips aren’t very flexible and so they are super challenging for me. 

Have a fabulous weekend!

~ Liesl

**Disclaimer: I am not an educated fitness professional, so any fitness and health tips that I provide on my blog are things that I have learned from personal experience, reading and personal study, or from others in the fitness profession. I will always recommend for those starting out in a fitness routine that you please check with your doctor before adding new exercises to your fitness routine. 

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