Alternative Exercises to the Lunge

Because you work one leg at a time, performing the lunge properly requires considerable balance, agility and more leg strength than other lower body exercises that target the same muscles, the quads, hamstrings and glutes. Learn the more basic leg exercises, including squats and leg presses, and then gradually advance to basic lunge variations before moving up to the more advanced lunges. Once you've mastered the proper technique for these different exercises, incorporate each of them at different times into your leg routine to continually shock your legs with a variety of exercises and training intensities.

A woman performing exercise squats outdoors. (Image: repinanatoly/iStock/Getty Images)

Have a Seat

The leg press mimics a squat, but you are in a seated position, so this leg exercise requires the least amount of agility and balance. Place your feet hip-width apart in the middle of the weight plate and extend your legs against the resistance. Keep your knees a little soft at the top of the movement; do not lock them.

Get Your Sea Legs

The squat is the most fundamental lower body exercise, working the same muscles as the lunge, but requiring less strength and balance. Start with a bodyweight squat and gradually add weight as the movement becomes easier. Position your feet hip-width apart. Keep your chest and head high and look straight ahead. Unhinge your hips, pushing them back as if you are going to sit down. Descend until your upper thighs are parallel to the floor.

Take the Stairs

Adjust the difficulty of the step-up exercise by changing the height of the step. As you step up, focus on pushing through the foot on the step to lift your body. Try not to push through the foot on the floor. You can hold weights in your hand to increase the challenge of this movement.

Put One Foot in, Put One Foot Back

The most common lunge is the forward lunge. You step forward with one foot, drop into a lunge and then push through the heel of the front foot to return to a standing position. This lunge variation takes considerable leg strength to power your entire torso back to a standing by pushing off the floor with your front foot. Other lunge variations are easier than the forward lunge. During the stationary lunge, neither foot leaves the floor, making this the most basic lunge. For a rear lunge, step back with one leg, drop into a lunge and then push through the front foot to return to a standing position. This lunge doesn't require as much strength or balance as the forward lunge because you don't have to move your entire body up and back; you only pull your rear leg forward to a standing position.

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