Lunges are a great unilateral (one-leg) exercise option that can help improve your stance, level changes, directional changes, and punching power. By focusing on the strength and ability of each leg independently, it allows you to “bring up” your weak side and reduce your chance of injury. Add these three lunge variations to your workout regimen to improve the strength and performance of your lower body.
After a two-year hiatus, heavyweight Todd Duffee returned to the Octagon at UFC 155, earning Knockout of the Night over Phil De Fries. Currently, Duffee is training at American Kickboxing Academy with big boys Cain Velasquez and
1. Anterior Leaning Lunge
The anterior leaning lunge provides an eccentric overload stimulus to the hamstrings, glutes, and lower back that can help improve your ability to change levels.
Stand tall and hold a dumbbell in each hand at your side. Step forward with one leg, keeping your front knee bent 20 degrees and your back knee straight. As your front foot hits the ground, simultaneously lean forward by hinging at your hips. Keep your back straight and allow your rear heel to come off the ground. Reverse the motion by stepping backward and returning to a standing position.
• Don’t round your back. The anterior (forward) lean should come from hinging at your hip joint.
• Don’t let the dumbbells touch the floor at any point during this exercise.
• Lean your torso forward until it becomes parallel to the floor.
• Keep your back knee straight as you lean into each rep.
• Allow your rear heel to come off the ground as you lean into each rep.
2. Fighter’s Lunge
The fighter’s lunge creates a reciprocal resistance stimulus by simultaneously strengthening the hip flexors on one side while also working the hip extenders on the other leg. This replicates and improves the force production pattern involved in creating explosive knee strikes.
Stand tall and hold a dumbbell in each hand. The dumbbell in your right hand should be outside of your right hip and the dumbbell in your left hand should be in front of your left thigh. Perform a reverse lunge by stepping backward with your left leg, allowing your left knee to gently touch the ground. As you return back to the standing position, allow your left thigh to meet the center handle of the dumbbell. With the dumbbell against the middle of your left thigh, flex your hip and raise your knee just above 90 degrees to the floor (as throwing a knee strike). Step backward again with your left leg and repeat.
• As your rear leg comes forward, the dumbbell should be mid-thigh level as you flex your hip.
• As you flex your hip, lift your knee just above your hip joint before returning your leg back for the next rep.
• Your thigh should gently touch the dumbbell.
3. Lateral Lunge with Cross-Body Reach
The lateral lunge with cross-body reach helps improve the ability of the glutes to load and explode in a manner that transfers force across the body from one side to the other. This helps improve your ability to change direction and throw powerful strikes.
Stand tall and hold a dumbbell in your left hand by your side. Step out laterally with your right leg, allowing your right knee to bend 20 degrees. Simultaneously shift all your weight to your right leg as you reach your left arm in front of your right foot. Explode out of this position and return to the same starting position.
• Hinge at your hip joint and do not round your back as you lean forward and reach across your body.
• Keep both feet pointed straight ahead throughout this exercise.
• Do not take long lateral steps (this is not a stretching exercise).
• It is designed to improve your ability to transfer force across your body.
• Your trailing leg should be straight as you begin each lunge.
3-6 reps per leg with each set of lunges.
3-5 total sets of each lunge variation. Be sure to use 1-2 different lunge variations within a given workout.
Lower into each lunge using deliberate control. Explode out of each lunge in a powerful manner while still maintaining solid technique.
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