Whenever I take boot camp type of classes, the one exercise I know I’ll excel in (Read: leave Boyfriend in the dust) is lunges. But while nothing is sweeter than victory via lunging across the gym with dumbbells, I prefer more subtle lunge variations for really lengthening and toning all the muscles in your thighs, glutes, and hips. By mixing up the angles and the positions of your legs and torso, you can work not just your lower body, but also your back, lower abs and side muscles. These lunges will help you achieve longer, leaner legs! (alliteration totally intended) 😀
1. High Lunges with Arms Overhead
Start from a high lunge with one leg in front, perpendicular to the floor, and the other leg stretched behind you. Engage your core and pitch forward at the hips and raise your arms overhead so that your whole body forms one long line. Hold for 1 minute or as long as you can. Switch sides.
Variation: you may pulse your arms lightly up and down for extra arm, shoulder, and back toning effects!
2. Lunge – Crunch
From high lunge with arms overhead, engage your core, crunch in with control, and bring in your back knee toward your chest. Return to position 1. Repeat 16 reps and switch sides.
3. Low Lunge Pulse
This time, get into low lunge with your palms supporting you, and on the ball of your back foot. Engage all the muscles in your back leg and glutes, wrap your core muscles, and pulse your pelvis up and down just a few inches for one minute or as long as you can. Then rock your pelvis back and forth (as opposed to up and down), still maintaining that muscle engagement. You should feel your glutes as well as inner thighs and lower abs working. Switch sides and repeat.
4. Lunge Kick
Start with your right foot back in a lunge (you may step it back a little bit more for better balance), hands on your hips. Kick off your back foot and straighten both knees, toes pointing, into an arabesque. Return to position 1 and repeat 16 reps. Switch sides.
5. Crossed Over Lunge
Begin from standing, then cross your right foot toward the back left corner of the room, and bend the knees into a crossed over lunge. Put your hands on hips and square your hips as much as possible while keeping the crossed position of the legs. Straighten to standing; you should feel your inner thighs and glutes working. Repeat 16 reps and switch sides.
Also see: 5 Poses to Build Core Strength