The most basic strength training moves can be some of the most effective exercises in the gym. They’re old standards for a reason—but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t think outside the box to get even more out of your workout.
Take the walking lunge. You’ve been doing lunges since you started strength training for a reason, and you might not have ever considered making any adjustments outside of adding a load. This leveled-up version from Men’s Health fitness director Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S. might have you thinking differently.
The beefed-up lunge adds an extra dimension to your glute activation by adding another movement, the Cossack squat, before pushing forward. “First of all, you’re sinking nice and deep into that Cossack, and then you have to power out of there, so that’s a lot of pure glute work,” says Samuel. “You need to be powerful out of that rotational Cossack, too, because you need all the energy you can get if you hope to drive into the forward lunge.”
The new dynamic movement does more than just increase your muscle stimulation. Samuel says that you’ll also be honing your athleticism and bulletproofing your hips and knees as you transition through the exercise. “You’re diffusing and managing energy in one direction and redirecting it in another,” he says. “You have mostly rotational energy coming out of the Cossack, but you need to get your entire torso moving forward; your abs, hips, and glutes drive that process on every single rep.”
To take on the leveled-up walking lunge, you’ll need some room to move around and a pair of kettlebells. If you need a set, check out this option from CAP Barbell.
Men’s Health/Eric Rosati
- Hold the kettlebells in a double rack position, gripping each by the handle and resting the weights along your forearms, maintaining a strong wrist position. Brace your core to support the load and avoid leaning forward.
- Start facing forward in a square stance. Rotate out and step backwards, turning your head to look in the direction you’re turning. Perform a Cossack squat, sinking into the rear leg and keeping the forward leg straight, allowing that foot to rise through the heel.
- Push off your rear foot and rotate straight into a walking lunge, stepping forward. Turn your head in that direction to help square your
- Repeat the movement with the opposite leg.
Don’t ignore the cues about head placement—that’s the key to nailing the transitions. “Where the head goes, the body will follow, says Samuel. “So look at something out to the side when you do the rotational Cossack, so your hips and shoulders really open out to the side, and look straight forward when you power out of that phase; it’ll help you square your torso for the forward lunge.”
To add the leveled-up lunge to your workout, try 3 sets of 10 to 12 reps for side to finish off your leg day. If you struggle to pull off the series fluidly, try a simple modification by pausing at a quick stand position after the rotational Cossack squat, then performing the forward lunge.
For more tips and routines from Samuel, check out our full slate of Eb and Swole workouts. If you want to try an even more dedicated routine, consider Eb’s New Rules of Muscle program.
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