Lower Body Blast! Lunge, Squat, & Deadlift Variations



by Becca Egan, BS, NASM-CPT

As stated in a previous Friday Favorite, I told you I would give you a list of the different variations of lunges, squats, and deadlifts. So here you go- enjoy!

Lunge variations:

Forward/front lunge – Start with feet together, step one foot forward and bend BOTH knees to 90 degrees. Push off your front heel and return to starting position. Alternate legs.

Reverse/back lunges - Start with feet together, step one foot back and bend BOTH knees to 90 degrees. Stay in the heel of your front foot and return to starting position. Alternate legs.

Side/lateral lunge – Start with feet together, step one foot out to the side (wider than shoulder width). Keep both feet pointed forward, push your hips backwards and bend the knee you stepped out with, keeping your other leg straight. Come back to standing. Alternate legs.

Walking lunges – step one foot forward and bend both knees. Bring back leg forward and step into lunge and bend both knees to 90.

Lunge with curl – lunge forward, backward, or laterally with weight at your side, curl the weight up as you come back to a standing position - lunge THEN curl.

Lunge with overhead press – similar to lunge and curl, start with weight at your shoulders, lunge forward, backward, or laterally and press weight over your head as you come back to standing position. Lower weight to your shoulders and repeat.

Overhead lunge – press weight overhead and lock out your arms so there is NO bend in the elbow. Keep the weight as high as you can, lunge forward, backwards, or walking. (*core challenger)

Pulsing lunges – step forward into lunge position, get both knees to 90 degrees, straighten back leg, keep weight in front heel. Return to half kneeling position. Stay on one leg for set amount of reps, then switch and match reps.

Goblet lunge – Hold kettlebell at chest level, preform either forward or reverse lunge, alternating every rep.

Contralateral lunge – Hold one dumbbell or kettlebell in one hand. Lunge forward or backward.

Make sure the knee that goes down is on the opposite side as the hand that is holding the weight. (*core challenger)

Curtsey lunge – starting with feet together, step one foot back and behind the front foot. Try to get your back knee on the outside of your front foot. Make sure the front knee doesn’t cave towards the inside and your front heel stays on the ground.

Jumping lunges – start in the split lunge position with one knee down and both knees bent at 90 degrees. Come up, jump and simultaneously switch feet so the other foot is in front. Go into a lunge with the other knee touching the ground. Repeat.

Squat variations:

Front loaded squat – holding either a kettlebell in the goblet position (at chest), dumbbells at your shoulders, or a bar across your chest, preform squat.

Back loaded squat – step underneath bar and rest it evenly on your back. Not too high where it’s on your neck, but comfortable enough that it doesn’t feel like it will fall. Usually rests on trapezoid muscle. Perform squat.

Squat press (thrusters) – With bar in front rack position, or dumbbells at the shoulders, perform squat and on the way up, press weight overhead. Use your legs to drive the weight up. Bring weight back down to shoulder height and repeat.

Sumo squat – feet wider than your normal squat and toes turned out a much as comfortable, sink butt straight down. You may not be able to go as low as your normal stance squat given flexibility. Make sure knees don’t go over the toes and your heels stay on the ground.

Squat with side or back kick – Start in your normal squat stance, perform squat. As you come to standing position bring one leg either out to the side or to the back. Bring foot back into squat position and repeat with other side.

Pulsing squats – squat down to squat depth, come up half way, go back to squat depth. Stay between the bottom of your squat and half way up.

Jump squats – perform squat, as you come up, come off your feet. You can go for height or speed. When you come down, get back into your heels for your squat. Your squat shouldn’t change, your just adding a jump when you come up.

Pistol squat – Also called the one legged squat. Start with a bench or chair behind you. Stand on one leg and lower yourself to seat. Stand up with the same leg you went down with, keeping the other leg straight and heel as high off the ground as possible. Once you get comfortable, try just tapping the seat without fully sitting down. As you progress, take the seat away. Alternate legs.

Dead Lift variations:

Hex bar deadlift – this deadlift is performed with a hex or trap bar. The handles are to the side instead of in front. Good for those with slight mobility issues.

Romanian deadlift (straight leg deadlift) – Start with weight in front of you with palms facing thighs. Keep hands in contact with your legs as you pull your hips backwards. Keep your shoulders up and back straight. Keep the knees soft (don’t lock out the knees). Go until the weight hits mid-shin, or hips and shoulders are even with each other, or until you right before you feel uncomfortable. Squeeze your glutes and bring your hips forward to return to standing position.

Dead lift with row – preform deadlift, before coming back to standing position, bring the weight up to your chest (think pull the elbows up). Return weight to hanging position and then to standing position.

Single leg deadlift – with weight in front of you, start standing on one leg and have one leg starting to go back before you dip forward. Raise your back heel to the ceiling and simultaneously dip your chest. Once you get to chest parallel to the floor, bring your chest up and return to standing. Your chest shouldn’t go down unless your leg is going back and vice versa. Think of it as a lever.

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