Sometimes a plain old lunge is just not enough. Your runs and workouts get intense but the lunges remain the same with a little bit of variation. As you improve your running times, increase the volume of your bodyweight workouts, or take long brisk walks, the cooldown stretches need to be more intense, and work at a deeper level, which is where lunge variations come into play. So we dug up some really trendy and unique lunge workouts that are ideal to stretch your lower body after a day at the gym or as a cooldown after that long run. Sometimes these lunge variations turn into mini workouts themselves. Most of these don’t require any equipment, with the odd exception of dumbbell-based or bench lunges.

Elevated Lunge

Similar to a bench lunge, this works wonders for your quads, glutes and hamstrings. Hold a pair of dumbbells at your sides and stand a couple of feet away from a bench or station seat facing it. Place your right foot on top of and in the middle of the step. Place your entire foot on the elevation platform without your heel hanging off the edge.

Bend knees and lower your hips as deeply as you can. Avoid bending your knee beyond the 90-degree angle on either leg and maintain the discipline of your front knee. Exhale and straighten both knees as you come up out of the lunge. Don’t lean forward over your front leg. Try to keep your weight centered so that you move up and down vertically and not shake off that line.

A Twisting Lunge (Image: Runtastic)
A Twisting Lunge (Image: Runtastic)

Blast-off lunges
With a plyometric boost, this twist on the standard lunges, sculpts the legs and glutes while training agility and lateral strength. Do this as part of a plyometric workout or as a finisher on lower body day. 5 to 8 reps on each leg for three sets should be good enough, but don’t forget to rest between sets.

Get into the setup position of any lunge and bring your front knee over your ankle and keep your rear leg extended behind you up resting on the toes. Your weight should be centered between your feet.

Slowly bend both knees until your back knee barely touches the floor, before jumping upward and about a foot to the side. Make sure you land softly and in the same lunge position. Put in the next rep immediately. Use your arms to help generate power and height, while exploding upwards.

One-Legged Lunge with Lift

A great way to boost those regular lateral lunges but this requires dumbbells. Grab one in each hand, holding them such that your palms are facing one another. Perform a lateral lunge i.e move your left leg to the side while leaning your torso slightly forward, and bending the right knee just a little. The weights should be at about knee level, and as you straighten the left knee, kick up your right leg to the side till it’s near parallel to the ground. Bring it back down and assume the lateral lunge position, and then return to standing. Ensure you finish the reps on one side before switching the active leg.

Reverse Lunge knee-ups

Add some more pep with one of the most powerful warmups and cooldown lunge variations. Perform the reverse lunge in which you stick one leg back while keeping the front knee bent to crouch down. Instead of returning to the standing position, straighten your front leg. jump up and get the leg behind you in front of you, maintaining your thigh parallel to the ground. Make sure your knees are bent for maximum effect, although you could also turn this into a lunge kick, by pushing your back leg out straight instead of high. Return to reverse lunge stance and repeat for the other leg.

Twisting Lunge

Stand upright with your hands behind your head, elbows flared out. Take a big step forward with your right leg and bend both knees, lunging deeply. Now at the bottom, twist your torso to the left, pointing your right elbow to the left knee. Untwist and stand back up by pushing off your front foot Make sure to achieve a proper balance before you twist at the down position.

This lunge not only serves to stretch those quads and hamstrings, but helps your obliques also recover. It’s a great option for those days when you hit the gym for light-weight workouts such as crossover crunches or weighted oblique sit-ups.

Deep Bench Lunge

Using the bench adds extra resistance and increases your intensity level while giving you the lunge variations, which work on your legs and butt, It’s also a great tool to improve your balance. So if you have a spare bench at home or at the gym work this lunge in.

Deep Bench Lunge (Image: oliviarink.com)
Deep Bench Lunge (Image: oliviarink.com)

Stand a couple of feet away from the bench and extend one leg back so the top of your foot rests on the bench. Bend the other leg, ensuring your knee does not venture beyond the toe-line. Keep your shin and foot at a 90-degree angle on the downward motion. Repeat the move on your opposite leg.

Lunge split jacks

A super high-energy plyometric exercise, it adds a twist and leap to the regular lunge. Begin in a lunge stance with your left leg forward and right knee slightly bent. Instead of plainly returning to the starting position, push through both feet and jump up, as in a squat jump. Your feet must come together, and your ankles should cross. It’s imperative to land back in a lunge position, instead of coming down straight. But to add a bit of difficulty, try to reverse your lunge while in the air. such that your right leg finishes in front, and your left in the back position.

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