Lunge Workouts for Leg Strength, Power and Speed

Lunge workouts are an excellent way to enhance leg, core and glute strength, build muscle, improve balance and improve general full body conditioning. They transfer well across to outdoor activities such as trail running, hiking and cycling. Enhanced coordination is highly useful for surfing and climbing.

As an exercise the lunge improves the quads (rectus femoris, vastus lateralis and vastus medialus), the glutes, the adductor magnus (found inside your thigh) and the soleus (situated beneath the Achilles tendon). They also strengthen the tendons and ligaments of the legs.

Lunges are an excellent core exercise, especially when performed with weight, as the unilateral (one legged) movement forces the core to work hard to stabilise the human body throughout the movement. Often simply shifting the load into a different position (overhead, front rack, on the back, gripped with arms by your side etc) can create a hugely different stimulus overall as your balance, functional strength and mobility will be tested in a different way.

There are many lunge variations, including but not limited to the following:

  • Forward Lunge
  • Reverse Lunge
  • Overhead Lunge
  • Front loaded Lunge
  • Jumping Alternating Lunge
  • Walking Lunge
  • Walking Overhead Loaded Lunge

HOW TO DO LUNGES

This is how to do a basic bodyweight forward lunge.

  1. Stand straight with your body fully upright. Feet hip-width apart
  2. Inhale, brace your core and glutes
  3. Take a long step forward with right leg. Shift your weight forward so the heel of your foot hits the floor first
  4. Lower your body until the right thigh is parallel to the floor and right shin is vertical. If in doubt go lower than you think you need to. The lower you go, the better the results
  5. Lightly tap your left knee on the floor
  6. Press hard with your right foot and drive back up to starting position, exhale as you ascend
  7. Switch legs and repeat

TRAINING TIPS FOR LUNGES

Don’t let your knees cave inwards at any point. Tense your glutes and quads to push them outwards if you feel this happening.

Avoid bringing your front foot directly in line with your back foot (as if you were walking on a tightrope) because this will negatively affect your balance and stability.

Don’t let the heel of the front foot lift away from the floor

Control your breathing. The lunge requires core stability at all times. Stay steady and controlled.

LUNGE WORKOUTS

The following functional fitness lunge workouts will test your leg strength, balance, coordination and willpower in a wide variety of ways. Whether you want a quick bodyweight lunge workout for a hotel or a longer grind outside to test challenge your mental strength, this article has got you covered.

QUAD DEATH

3 Rounds for Time

  • 20 Walking Lunges with Heavy Weight
  • 20 Walking Lunges with Medium Weight
  • 20 Walking Lunges with No Weight
  • Rest 2 minutes

Perform all 60 walking lunges with minimal to no breaks then rest 2:00 minutes between rounds.

Score is the time it takes to complete the 3 rounds.

Intended Stimulus

This workout is best thrown in as a finisher after your lower body strength work or conditioning. Each round should be unbroken, and move from 3 different weight changes starting with the heaviest and ending with the lightest with no rest. I’ve used dumbbells, sandbags, and front/back racked barbells to load this.

THE HAPPENING

For Time

  • 10-20-30-40-50-60-70-80-90-100 Alternating Lunges
  • 10 Burpees (after each set)

With a running clock, as fast as possible perform the prescribed work in the order written. The Lunges on this one are meant to be Walking Lunges, competition-style where the trail knee touches the deck, alternating steps, and step together at the top of every step for the rep to count.

The Lunges are split reps, so for the 10 reps to start that is 5 on each leg alternating for 10 total. Keep your hands off your thighs while you Lunge, no using your hands or arms to push off your legs.

Make sure the trail knee GENTLY touches the deck every step, and bring both feet together to complete every rep.

The Burpees are standard CrossFit burpees, get on the deck with chest and thighs touching (does not have to be a strict push-up) get up, then jump and clap with hands overhead to complete the rep.

The key strategy is don’t stop moving.

Score is the time on the clock when the last round of Burpees is completed.

Intended Stimulus

This should be a grind. Increasing rep schemes are my jam because they are so mental. And although it is bodyweight movements, the burn is real!

Scaling

Athletes may scale in place Alternating Lunges if they don’t have room to walk. Burpees can be scaled to Hand Release Push-Ups instead of Burpees. This workout would also be nasty with Burpees subbed for some other form of cardio (Cal Row, Cal Ski, or Cal Wind Bike after every set of lunges).

QUARTER MILE FOR HUMANITY

For Time

  • 400 metre Front Rack Lunges (45/35 lb)

*Every 10 lunges, perform:

  • 5 Push Presses (45/35 lb)

Perform the front rack lunges unbroken for the whole 400 metres. Every 10 walking lunges, perform 5 push presses in place until you finish the quarter-mile.

LEGGO MY EGGO

For Time

  • 500 Lunges

The back knee must make contact with the ground for each rep and stand up complete for each rep, extending the hip fully at the top before lunging down again. You may walk or remain in place.

Scaling

For Time

500 Box Step-Ups (20/14 in)

SUPER LEGS

5 Rounds for Time

  • 20 Air Squats
  • 20 Alternating Lunges
  • 20 Alternating Split Squat Jumps
  • 10 Squat Jumps

With a running clock, as fast as possible perform the prescribed work in the order written for 5 rounds. Be careful with these. Watch your form and knees. You don’t have to touch your knee to the ground.

Score is the time on the clock when the last round of Squat Jumps is completed.

LUNGE WORKOUTS – RISE ABOVE

3 Rounds for Time

  • 15 calorie Assault Bike
  • 30 Overhead Lunges (75/55 lb)

With a running clock, as fast as possible perform the prescribed work in the order written for 3 Rounds.

Score is the time on the clock when the last round of Overhead Lunges is completed.

Intended Stimulus

It is meant to be a hard effort, completing the bike as fast as possible each round and aiming to perform all overhead lunges unbroken or with one quick break. If you don’t have a bike, then row for the same amount of calories or run 200 metre. Choose a weight where you can do at least 15 reps consecutively. If you don’t have a barbell, use dumbbells, kettlebells, or a stuffed bag.

HOTEL LUNGE WORKOUT

3 Rounds for Time

  • 20 Dumbbell Lunges (2×50/35 lb)
  • 20 Alternating Dumbbell Snatches (50/35 lb)

With a running clock, as fast as possible perform the prescribed work in the order written for 3 rounds.

Score is the time on the clock when the last repetition of Alternating Dumbbell Snatches is completed.

HANDS UP

4 Rounds for Time

  • 10 Devil Presses (2×50/40 lb)
  • 20 metre Dual Dumbbell Overhead Walking Lunges (2×50/40 lb)
  • 10 Toes-to-Bars

The workout consists of four rounds for time of the prescribed exercises above, on a clock for time.

Score in this workout is based on the amount of time taken to complete the prescribed amount of work.

Scaling

4 Rounds for Time

10 Devil Presses (2×40/30 lb)

20 metre Dual Dumbbell Overhead Walking Lunges (2×40/30 lb)

10 Toes-to-Bars

BURN BABY BURN

2 Rounds for Time

  • 21 Russian Twists
  • 15 Reverse Lunges
  • 9 Squats to Sit
  • 15 Russian Twists
  • 12 Reverse Lunges
  • 9 Squats to Sit
  • 12 Russian Twists
  • 9 Reverse Lunges
  • 6 Squats to Sit
  • 2 minutes Rest after Round 1

With a running clock, as fast as possible perform the prescribed work in the order written for two rounds. Athlete must perform 21 Russian Twists, 15 Reverse Lunges, and 9 Squats to Sit before moving on to 15, 12, 9 reps, and 12-9-6 reps respectively. Rest 2 minutes after completing the first round.

If you have a weighted object, use it for Russian Twists and Reverse Lunges. For the Squats to Sit, squat down to a chair, medicine ball or a footstool. Aim is to control down then disengage at the bottom for a brief second, reengage and come back up for 1 rep.

Score is the time on the clock when the last set of Squats to Sit is completed.

Intended Stimulus

Larger numbers are aimed to give your abs/core a good blast. Reverse Lunges are designed to work on your balance along while stimulating legs. Squats to Sit encourages you to have a better connection with your hips, glutes, hamstrings, and quads.

The rep scheme encourages you to keep a good speed and pacing. The 2-minute rest is to encourage you to push in the 2nd round, overall holding your original score.

LUNGE WORKOUTS – GODDESSMAKER

6 Rounds for Time

  • 8 Goddessmakers* (2×35/25 lb)
  • 200 metre Run
  • Rest 2 minutes

*1 Goddessmaker consists of: 1 Dumbbell Push-Up, 1 Right-Arm Plank Row, 1 Left-Arm Plank Row, 1 Dumbbell Clean, 1 Front Squat, 1 Push Press, 1 Overhead Reverse Lunge each leg (unbroken)

A Goddessmaker (an extended version of a Man Maker) consists of the following in order: Using Dumbbells, perform a pushup, then a plank row (aka: renegade row) each arm. Jumping the feet to the hands, stand and clean the dumbbells, perform a front squat then a push press. Finally, with the dumbbells overhead, perform a reverse lunge each leg.

Scaling

Intermediate

6 Rounds for Time

  • 8 Goddessmakers (2×25/15 lb)
  • 200 metre Run
  • Rest 2 minutes

Beginner

6 Rounds for Time

  • 8 Goddessmakers (2×20/10 lb)
  • 150 metre Run
  • Rest 2 minutes

IVAN THE TERRIBLE

5 Rounds for Time

  • 90 seconds Single-Unders

50-40-30-20-10 Reps of:

  • Alternating Lunges
  • Push-Ups
  • Sit-Ups

Start each round with 90 seconds of jump rope (singles), then do 50 reps of each of the other movements. Start round two with 90 seconds of jump rope again, then do 40 reps of each of the other movements. Continue with the descending rep scheme for five total rounds.

LUNGE WORKOUTS – ASSAULT REDUCTION

For Time

Round 1:

  • 30 calorie Assault Air Bike
  • 24 Lunges
  • 18 Push-Ups
  • 12 Front Squat (185/135 lb)

Round 2:

  • 25 calorie Assault Air Bike
  • 20 Lunges
  • 15 Push-Ups
  • 10 Front Squat (185/135 lb)

Round 3:

  • 20 calorie Assault Air Bike
  • 16 Lunges
  • 12 Push-Ups
  • 8 Front Squat (185/135 lb)

Round 4:

  • 15 calorie Assault Air Bike
  • 12 Lunges
  • 9 Push-Ups
  • 6 Front Squat (185/135 lb)

Round 5:

  • 10 calorie Assault Air Bike
  • 8 Lunges
  • 6 Push-Ups
  • 4 Front Squat (185/135 lb)

Round 6:

  • 5 calorie Assault Air Bike
  • 4 Lunges
  • 3 Push-Ups
  • 2 Front Squat (185/135 lb)

Scaling

Reduce the weight for the front squats

30 MIN AMRAP LUNGE WORKOUT

AMRAP means as many reps as possible.

AMRAP in 30 minutes

  • 100 foot Walking Lunges
  • 25/20 Hand Release Push-Ups
  • 100 foot Walking Lunges
  • 25 Burpees

On a 30-minute clock, perform as many rounds and repetitions as possible (AMRAP) of the prescribed work in the order written.

Score is the total number of rounds and repetitions completed before the 30-minute clock stops.

Scaling

Reduce the time to 10-15 minutes and/or reduce the number of reps/distance on all exercises. Scale the Push-Ups by elevating the hands.

Tips and Strategy

30 minutes is a long time, so don’t destroy yourself in the first round. Try to maintain a steady heart rate and keep moving. Break up the hand release pushups early (round 2/3).

Intended Stimulus

Push-Ups will have to be broken up, especially after 2-3 rounds for most people. The Burpees will get the heart rate up the most, like always. Walking Lunges can be tough for some athletes but will give the upper body pressing muscles a break.

LUNGE WORKOUTS – ONE ARM BANDIT

3 Rounds for Time

  • 10 Dumbbell Snatches, Left (50/35 lb)
  • 10 Dumbbell Overhead Lunges, Left (50/35 lb)
  • 10 Dumbbell Snatches, Right (50/35 lb)
  • 10 Dumbbell Overhead Lunges, Right (50/35 lb)
  • 10 Dumbbell Power Cleans, Left (50/35 lb)
  • 10 Dumbbell Front Squats, Left (50/35 lb)
  • 10 Dumbbell Power Cleans, Right (50/35 lb)
  • 10 Dumbbell Front Squats, Right (50/35 lb)

With a running clock, as fast as possible perform the prescribed work in the order written for 3 rounds. Overhead lunges are written as the total number of steps, not steps per leg. Dumbbell must be held in one hand for front squats.

Score is the time on the clock when the last round of Dumbbell Front Squats is completed.

Scaling

3 Rounds for Time

  • 10 Left-Arm Dumbbell Snatches (35/20 lb)
  • 10 Left-Arm Dumbbell Suitcase Lunges (35/20 lb)
  • 10 Right-Arm Dumbbell Snatches (35/20 lb)
  • 10 Right-Arm Dumbbell Suitcase Lunges (35/20 lb)
  • 10 Left-Arm Dumbbell Power Cleans (35/20 lb)
  • 10 Left-Arm Dumbbell Front Squats (35/20 lb)
  • 10 Right-Arm Dumbbell Power Cleans (35/20 lb)
  • 10 Right-Arm Dumbbell Front Squats (35/20 lb)

LUNGE PARTNER WORKOUT

AMRAP (with a Partner) in 20 minutes

  • 500 metre Run
  • 10 Pull-Ups
  • 10 Toes to Bar
  • 10 Overhead Walking Lunges (45/35 lb barbell)

Partner A runs 500 meters while Partner B completes as many rounds as possible (AMRAP) of 10 pull-ups, 10 toes-to-bar, 10 overhead walking lunges.

When Partner A returns from the run, partners tag and switch places.

Scaling

Change the Pull ups to Banded pull ups or Ring Rows.

Substitute the Toes to Bar with knees to elbows or sit ups.

Perform the walking lunges with no barbell.

LUNGE WORKOUTS

Lunge workouts will improve your health, strength, full body fitness and balance and coordination. The lunge is a highly functional exercise and improvements made through doing these lunge workouts will transfer well across into other outdoor fitness activities such as hiking, trail running and even cycling.

Try these Ski Erg Workouts to improve your engine, or these Arm Workouts to augment your upper body strength.

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