These moves come to you from four of our top Daily Burn 365 trainers. For a new, 30-minute workout every day, head to DailyBurn.com/365.
Now that spring has finally sprung, you might be itching to run your first 5K or break a new personal record at your next half-marathon. While it’s true you need to mix up your paces to run faster, doing lower-body exercises, such as power lunges, helps you run more efficiently and carry you through longer runs. When you’re at the last leg of your race, your mind and heart will thank your hamstrings, glutes, and calves for helping you cross the finish line.
And that’s not all. If cardio isn’t your thing, lunges will bring the heat in other ways. Hello, mobility and power! Lunges will also help improve your coordination and balance since the move is broken down into single-leg components. Plus, you don’t need any equipment to fit these lower body moves in and reap the benefits.
“Lunges strengthen your lower body, including the glutes, hamstrings and calves,”says Daily Burn 365 trainer Gregg Cook. “But what makes lunges different from a squat that it challenges your balance. You have a broader base for support with a squat, but with a lunge, you have a split stance, which makes it inherently more difficult to balance,” he says. “Lunges are also more dynamic, and your body needs to re-adjust to absorb the body weight and figure out where it is in space.”
Here are some beginner-friendly power lunges to get started.
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5 Lunges for Stronger Legs and Glutes
1. Lateral Lunges
If plyometric exercises put pressure on your knees, consider this side lunge, which helps strengthen the muscles around your knees and improves flexibility and hip mobility, too. These classic lateral lunges also help stretch your hamstrings (a godsend for runners), while engaging your core.
How to: Stand with your feet hip-width apart, hands at your sides (a). Take a big step back with your right leg and land on the ball of your foot (b). Bring your hands together as you lower your body down to the floor while bending your knees. Make sure your right knee doesn’t touch the floor. Your left knee should form a 90-degree angle to the floor (c). Next, reverse your lunge and return to the starting position (d). Then, take a big step to your right and bend your knee as you lower your body and bring your hands together. Make sure your knee doesn’t extend past your right toes (e). Sit your hips back into the stretch and keep your left leg straight with your feet flat on the floor. Reverse your position and return to the starting position (f). Do eight reps of one reverse and lateral lunge on each leg before moving onto the other side.
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2. Standing Split Lunge
Once you feel more comfortable with balancing on one leg, this standing split lunge is perfect for adding more pep into your step and transitioning into plyometric lunges. It’s also a great active stretch to warm up your body before a workout. You even engage your core muscles, while increasing your heart rate to boot.
How to: Stand with your feet hip-width apart with your hands at your sides (a). Take a big step back with your right leg and land on the ball of your foot (b). As you lower your body down to the floor, bring your right hand forward and your left hand back (c). Make sure your right knee hovers over the floor, and your left knee forms a 90-degree angle to the floor (d). Now, straighten your left leg and pop up to draw your right leg in front of you (e). Return to a reverse lunge and do eight reps before moving onto your left side.
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3. Pendulum Lunges
This variation challenges your balance and coordination further by applying more pressure on one set of muscles at a time. And while this one is performed without weights, as you get stronger, you can consider adding dumbbells.
How to: Stand with your feet hip-width apart, hands at your hips (a). Take a big step forward with your right leg, and lower your body down to the ground, bending your right knee to form a 90-degree angle to the floor (b). Once you’ve lowered your body to the floor, clasp your hands under your right thigh. Hold this position for a few seconds before unclasping your hands and returning to standing position (c). Now, take a step back with your right leg to do a reverse lunge, clasping your hands under your left thigh (d). Reverse your lunge and return to the starting position (e). Do eight pendulum lunges on each side.
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4. Lunge to Back Hand
These pulsing lunges train your glutes in a new way, while activating your arm muscles as well. We don’t use dumbbells in this exercise, but you can work your way up to incorporating weights or a body bar.
How to: Stand with your feet hip-width apart with your arms at each sides shoulder height (a). Take a big step back with your right leg and land on the ball of your foot (b). As you lower your body to the floor and pulse your right leg, bring your arms forward, crossing your arms out in front of you (c). Do eight reps on each side.
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5. Plyo Lunges
A perfect combination of cardio and strength, these plyometric lunges get your heart rate up while toning your muscles and burning fat. In this variation, we pause to do a lunge after two jumps.
How to: Stand with your feet hip-width apart, hands at your sides. Step your right foot back and your left foot in front (a). Lower your body to the ground, keeping your right knee bent and your left knee perpendicular to the ground (b). Scissor jump your legs twice and land with your right foot in front and your left foot is behind. Be sure to land with both knees bent to provide you with support (c). Three sets of eight reps.
Want more quick and easy moves you can do right at home, head to DailyBurn.com/365 — it’s free for 30 days!