I'm sure you've done a Forward Lunge, and there's a good chance you've done a Reverse Lunge. But have you ever combined the two moves into one exercise? It seems like a painfully obvious combo, but I had never tried it until recently. And man, it's a brutally awesome way to build a bigger and stronger lower body.
The exercise is featured in John Rusin's Functional Hypertrophy Training Program. It calls for two warm-up sets followed by three working sets of eight reps. It didn't seem all that difficult initially, so I warmed up with my body weight and then grabbed two 25-pound dumbbells for the working sets. That was a huge mistake.
The first few reps went by with no problems, and then my quads and glutes felt like they were on fire. By the end, my legs were fried and I had to drop the weight to 15 pounds just to finish the remaining two sets.
The beauty of this exercise is that the transition between the Forward Lunge and Reverse Lunge is a seamless motion without touching the ground. You remain on your planted leg throughout the set, completing a total of 16 reps with one leg doing the lunging movements.
According to Rusin, the fluid transition between the two Lunges increases time under tension, or the amount of time a muscle is working, for the quads and glutes on both legs. The result is a pump effect, which beyond making your muscles look swole, is a highly effective method for building them. It's also a skill-based move that requires hip and core stability and mental focus to perform fluidly without losing balance—a critical athletic skill. And because you're working the large muscles of your leg, it will spike your heart rate.
"It's simple but sinister," Rusin accurately describes the exercise.
How to Perform Forward to Reverse Lunge
Step 1: Stand with your feet hip-width apart and hold dumbbells at your sides if you plan to use weight.
Step 2: Take an exaggerated step forward with your right leg into a Forward Lunge and lower until your right thigh is parallel to the ground and your left knee is about an inch above the ground.
Step 3: Drive off your right heel and Seamlessly transition into a Reverse Lunge by taking an exaggerated step backward with your right foot. Lower until your left thigh is parallel to the ground and your right knee is about an inch above the ground.
Step 4: Drive off your left heel to stand up, and immediately move into the next rep.
Forward to Reverse Lunge Tips
To get the full benefits of this exercise, perform it after your heavy strength or power exercises. It's not meant to be a pure strength exercise, but to create the burn and pump that helps build muscle.
This is an advanced exercise. Master the Forward Lunge and Reverse Lunge on their own before combining the two movements.
Start with light weight and perform fluidly with control. According to Rusin, a more fluid motion promotes a greater pump.
Do not touch the ground with your working leg.
Everyone lunges a little differently. Some have a perfectly vertical shin, while others have a slightly forward shin angle, as Rusin does in the video above. The most important thing is to maintain control of your body.
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