Improve Flexibility, Strength and Fat Burning with This Lunge Workout

Lunges are incredibly versatile. You can improve your flexibility, strengthen your muscles or burn fat if you pick the right lunge variation for your goals.

This lunge workout focuses on all three aforementioned goals to build a well-rounded routine for any fitness level; simply adjust the weights used based on your current strength.

Tip: Before trying this workout, learn to lunge the right way.

1. Warmup

Lunges are a mainstay in any quality warmup because they prime the entire lower body for a tough workout. You’ll stretch the hip flexors, hamstrings and calves while building knee, hip and core stability with a variety of movements. You even mobilize your upper body by adding reaching and rotational motions for your shoulders and upper back.

Perform these four exercises back-to-back with minimal rest, using slow and smooth motions to maintain proper positions:

When lunging, be sure to brace your abs and squeeze your glutes on the same side as your back leg to avoid overarching your lower back. As you reach and rotate through your shoulders, follow your hand with your eyes and keep a double chin so you don’t hyperextend your neck.

2. Build Strength

Add weight to any lunge, and you’ve instantly got yourself a top-notch strength-building exercise. This strength workout incorporates lunges in several directions to target your lower-body muscles from multiple angles.

Body weight alone is enough for many people to get stronger, but adding a barbell, kettlebell or dumbbells can increase the intensity for faster strength gains.

Reverse Lunges: 3–4 sets x 6–8 reps per side

Start with reverse lunges because they work best for heavier weights. There’s less eccentric stress (i.e., slowing down the weight after your foot lands) than a forward lunge and less strain on the knee since it’s easier to keep your knee in line with your foot. Pick one of these three variations:

Forward Lunges: 3–4 sets x 8–10 reps per side

Forward lunges cater more to moderate weight and reps since it’s tougher to control your hip and knee position compared with reverse lunges. Be sure to lean forward slightly to keep your core braced. Tap your back knee to the floor if possible, and don’t allow your knee to travel too far past your toes. Here are three of our favorite forward lunges:

Lateral Lunges: 3–4 sets x 10–12 reps per side

People often forget that lunges can be done side to side, not just forward and backward. Lateral lunges build strong glutes and hamstrings while opening up the hips and ankles. Use lighter weights here, and work on achieving a full range of motion. Try one of these lateral lunges:

3. Burn Fat

To finish off the workout, we’ve picked an extra-evil lunging movement that burns fat fast: the split-squat jump. This exercise works well for almost anyone (barring an existing injury); just adjust the speed and height of your jumps. Beware: These can be high-impact, so start slow and increase your speed and height as you feel comfortable.

Split-Squat Jumps: 3–5 rounds of 20–40 seconds (rest 20–40 seconds between rounds)

Love Your Lunges

This multifaceted workout shows just how useful lunges can be for any fitness goal. Pick your favorite movements from each list, and lunge your way to better mobility, strength and fat loss.

Tony Bonvechio
Tony Bonvechio

Tony Bonvechio (@bonvecstrength) is a strength and conditioning coach at Cressey Sports Performance in Hudson, MA, and a personal trainer in Providence, RI. A former college baseball player turned powerlifter, he earned his Master’s degree in Exercise Science from Adelphi University. You can read more from Tony at bonvecstrength.com.

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