Lunges & Variations
Dr. Seedman performs the overhead lunge using eccentric isometrics. Eccentric Isometrics offer numerous benefits in terms of muscle function, strength, stability, mobility, symmetrical loading, and hypertrophy. This video is part of Dr. Seedman's T-Nation article on eccentric isometrics.
This perturbation variation of the eccentric isometric lunge is highly effective not only for stimulating the muscles in the quadriceps, glutes, and hamstrings, but also for activating the stabilizers of the feet, ankles, and toes.
Dr. Seedman teaches you how to perform lunges with Rapid Eccentric Isometrics (REIs), an advanced proprietary training technique he developed to improve performance and muscle function.
With high bar lunges, the barbell is placed on the upper traps rather than on top of the rear delta as would be seen in the low bar position. This method targets the quads to a slightly greater degree than low bar position. Try performing as eccentric isometrics for greater activation.
Place the bar slightly lower on your shoulders, right above or on top of the rear deltoids. This placement targets the glutes to a slightly greater degree than the high bar variation. When performed as an eccentric isometric it provides an intense training stimulus the entire lower body.
The single-arm weighted lunge can be performed with a dumbbell or kettlebell. There's two variations. First is the one demonstrated in the video where the kettlebell is loaded contra-laterally (opposite arm and leg). This variation causes the lifter to avoid forces that want to push the knee into valgus collapse. Loading the movement ipsilaterally (i.e. on the same arm and leg) forces the lifter to work the inner thigh and groin muscles to avoid excessive external rotation and knee flare caused by the outside loading. Both are excellent and should be incorporated into many individual's routines.
Performing explosive lunge jumps with contralateral arm drive reinforces proper sprinting and stride mechanics as the arms, legs, and core must work in unison as a means of propelling the body upward and maintaining stability and balance.
This is a great lunge variation for targeting the stabilizers around the hips and core. It can be performed contralateral (opposite arm and opposite leg loaded) as shown in the video or ipsilateral (same arm same leg loaded).
Lunges performed in an eccentric isometric fashion (slow negative followed by a 3-5 second pause in the stretched position) are excellent for targeting and stretching all muscles of the lower body. Pause with your back knee just above the floor.
When applied to dynamic lunges, the Hanging Band Technique (HBT) creates a difficult, yet effective, movement for targeting the entire lower body--quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and lower body stabilizers. (HBT) further increases the difficulty of the movement as it requires greater stabilization, proprioceptive feedback, and core activation to control the oscillations and perturbations created by the bands.
When applied to dynamic lunges, the Hanging Band Technique (HBT) creates a difficult, yet effective, movement for targeting the entire lower body--quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and lower body stabilizers. The more bands you add, the more oscillations and perturbations created, which demand even more stabilization and core activation.
Bulgarian Squats performed in an eccentric isometric fashion as shown here are an outstanding exercise for strengthening the entire lower body while building significant hypertrophy and improved muscle function. Eccentric Isometrics are also an excellent technique for improving movement mechanics and motor control.
The Goblet Bulgarian Squat is an excellent exercise for unilaterally targeting the entire lower body while simultaneously providing good eccentric stretch and lengthening to the hip flexors. When performed as an eccentric isometric its even more effective for building size, strength and correcting muscular imbalances.
In this tutorial, Dr. Seedman shows how the Bottoms-Up KB Overhead Lunge helps correct the overhead lunge mechanics, specifically because it forces the lifter to lock the load into the proper slot position. Any deviations in form will immediately result in a failed lift.
The Bulgarian kettlebell swap is perhaps the most painful yet also one of the most beneficial variations of the swap. Simply perform an eccentric isometric Bulgarian squat, and then hold this position while passing the weight between the legs. This is also one of the single most effective drills for simultaneously improving mobility and stability in the lower extremities. You’re essentially forced to stabilize your lower body and core while the surrounding musculature are contracting in a stretched and loaded position.
This Bulgarian squat variation is a very difficult lower body lunge movement that targets all of the larger muscles of the legs including the quads, glutes, and hamstrings, as well as the smaller stabilizers throughout the feet, ankles, hips, and core. Adding eccentric isometrics by pausing going slow on the negative then holding the bottom stretched position makes it even more challenging yet also more effective for growth, strength, and muscle function.
Here's a great lunge or split squat variation that crushes the legs and core as well as the upper body. You're essentially having to fire your shoulders and arms in order to support the heavy load making it a great finisher after any full body workout.
Heavy barbell lunges and barbell squats are a must for figure and bikini competitors. They produce incredible results in the glutes, hamstrings, quads, inner things, outer thighs, and surrounding musculature. Performed with chains, these exercises are even more challenging as they provide constant tension to the muscles in the form of accommodating resistance. Here, one of Dr. Seedman's national level figure competitors demonstrates proper form.
Here's a great bicep movement that also works the lower body stabilizers. Essentially you're simply holding a lunge position which makes it very difficult to perform curls in this position as it forces the lifter to be very smooth and also tilts them over slightly creating greater tension in the contracted position. It's nearly impossible to cheat on this, and any use of momentum will cause you to lose your balance. Try performing 5 reps on each leg.
Here's a great exercise for targeting the glutes, quads, and hamstrings as well as the inner and outer thighs. Many individuals use excessive range of motion on lateral lunges. Using 90 degree angles is best as it maximizes activation and muscle function while eliminating stress on the joints. The key is keeping the hips pushed back throughout as this takes stress off the knees.
The draping chain technique is a great way to work your stabilizers, proprioceptors, core, and primary muscles groups, as it forces the lifter to stay incredibly tight and locked in as a means for ensuring the hanging chains don't sway. This technique is particularly difficult when applied to a lunge due to the balance required. The combination is great for the quads, glutes, hamstrings, and entire lower body. Ben, one of my powerlifting and bodybuilding clients, demonstrates.
This variation of the barbell lunge places greater stress on the quads and hip flexors making it an excellent lunge variation for inducing strength and size gains in the thighs. It also target the glutes and hamstrings as well as challenges the stabilizers of the lower body.
This is difficult yet highly effective Bulgarian squat variation that taxes the entire lower body particularly the quads, glutes, and hamstrings as well as the smaller stabilizers of the inner and outer hips. Having the back leg elevated on a resistance band provides unique 3 dimensional instability as the oscillations occur in a lateral manner, up and down, and back and forth making it very challenging to stabilize. Here's one of my figure athletes Leslie, showing the movement with excellent form.
The reverse band barbell lunge represents an excellent way to use accommodating resistance in order to deload the bottom of the movement so that the top can be overloaded. This results in a more even strength curve throughout the movement rather than excessive tension at the bottom position with little at the top. This one is also more user friendly on the joints particularly the knees.
Here's one of my female figure athletes Leslie performing very heavy chain lunges while having her front leg on a cushioned surface. The soft surface makes the movement more unstable and recruits additional muscle fibers to control the movement. If you're looking for an exercise to tax the entire lower body as well as every stabilizer from head to toe this is it.
Overhead Bulgarian barbell squats performed in an eccentric isometric fashion are one of the single most effective movements you can. It improves improves mobility, stability, postural alignment, balance, symmetrical loading, proprioception, strength, and hypertrophy from head to toe. For the eccentric isometric perform a slow negative followed by a several second pause in the stretched position. This allows the lifter to attend to the high levels of sensory feedback produced from muscle spindles and other proprioceptive mechanisms. As a result this allows the lifter to fine-tune and optimize their body positioning and movement mechanics.