Lunge Variations

This 3-video post will be covering differ lunge variations. We will cover:

➡️ Prehab considerations for multi-directional lunges
➡️ Lunges variations for power development
➡️ Our favorite lunge combo
If you don’t already include some lunge variation into your lower body training, hopefully by the end of this article we will have convinced you to not only do so, but also gave you some creative ideas on variations that best suit your goals!

Plyometric Lunges

Looking for a way to mix up your leg day with an absolutely brutal exercise? Want to incorporate explosive movement patterns? Feeling the need for a killer cardiovascular taxing? Well look no further than these WEIGHTED PLYOMETRIC JUMPING LUNGES!! These bad boys are NO JOKE. Not only are you getting all the usual benefits of a normal lunge, you are adding an element of dynamic plyometric movement.

IMPORTANT: PROGRESS APPROPRIATELY! Like any plyometric program, adherence to a SAFE progression in exercise difficulty is an absolute must to avoid injury. 

Specifically for this exercise, first make sure you have the strength and motor control for a normal lunge. Next, work on jumping up and switching your feet in midair. Make sure to land softly and absorb the impact via eccentric muscular control – don’t just bang down on your joints! Ensure that your back knee does NOT hit the ground. Only after you have mastered the control of the jump and landing should you proceed to add weight. If you try them out, let us know how it goes!

READ: Split Stance Positioning and Set Up

Elevated + Front Rack + Reverse Lunge Combo

This particular lunge variation has recently become a favorite of mine. It takes two untraditional (for the most part) exercises – a front squat and backward lunge – and combines them into one fantastic movement. Shout out to @movementresilience and @barbellrehab for the inspiration. The backward lunge places the largest demand on your reference limb’s (front leg) hip and knee extensors, simply due to the fact that you are bearing weight primarily through this limb throughout the entire movement. Additionally, because we are bearing weight through this limb throughout this exercise, there is a relatively high demand on ankle stability as well.

Now for the hand hold. With lunges, you can choose from a variety of holds that include dumbbells: dumbbells in either hand at your sides, a single dumbbell at the chest like a sumohold, a barbell racked on the back, a barbell racked across the shoulders in the front, etc. Choose whichever is most comfortable to you and best aligns with your goals. In particular, the front rack position will not allow as much “natural” trunk flexion as the back rack position. Thus, you will increase the demand of the knee extensors (quads) and decrease the demand placed on the hip extensors (glutes). Using a step, as shown here, is a fantastic way to allow for MORE HIP FLEXION RANGE OF MOTION, thus forcing your GLUTES TO WORK HARDER. Try this if you’re looking to increase the difficulty of your lunge variations. Play around and find a combo that works for you and your goals!


Master The Lunge [P]Rehab Program

If your goal is to learn and master the lunge, get back to lunging again, or stay lunging without limitations, look no further. This program takes the guesswork out of learning the lunge and all of its variations and builds your lunge from the ground up to ultimately improve your lunge performance! Learn more about the Master The Lunge [P]Rehab Program HERE!


Remember The Goal of Deficient Exercises

One of my pet peeves with seeing people use deficient exercises like the deficient lunge pictured in the first video is that THEY DONT EVEN USE THE EXTRA ROM. On my reverse lunge, I am going completely down to the floor and taking advantage of the deficit set up. More hip and knee flexion for more quad/glute/hamstring action.

If using a step or box, GO DOWN THE ENTIRE WAY and take advantage of that deficit!

Ankle Rehab Considerations for Multi-Directional Lunges

Multi-directional lunge variations are an amazing way to add movement in multiple planes, incorporate sport specific training (i.e. a volleyball dig), and specifically for the ankle, tailor a more specific training regimen for prehab or rehab. Here we are demonstrating a classic multi-directional lunge with some nifty sliders provided by @6directionstm: lateral, posteromedial, posterior, and posterolateral. These multi-directional lunge variations are GREAT FOR YOUR ANKLE because not only are you forced to bear weight through the front of your ankle the entire time, but by changing the direction you reach, you are adding an element of instability and perturbation in multiple directions. The direction in which you reach highly influences not only what muscles in your ankle are more active, but more importantly for rehab, what movements are occurring at the ankle.

In the posterolateral lunge variation, the ankle is moving into dorsiflexion and INVERSION. When rehabbing from an INVERSION ANKLE SPRAIN – in which the anterior talofibular ligament (ATFL) is commonly injured – you initially want to avoid placing the ankle in an inverted position, so it would be best to avoid this particular directional lunge.

READ: Lateral Ankle Sprain Advanced Exercises and Techniques and Do I Need an X-Ray After an Ankle Sprain?

In the posteromedial lunge variation, the ankle is moving into dorsiflexion and EVERSION. When rehabbing from an EVERSION ANKLE SPRAIN (although relatively uncommon) – in which the deltoid ligament is strained – you want to avoid placing the ankle in an everted position, so this directional lunge variation might not be the most appropriate.

Knee [P]Rehab Program

plyometric exercises

The Knee [P]Rehab Program is for anyone looking to get more out of their knee(s)! Learn more by clicking HERE

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