February 16, 2022
Thinking about incorporating kettlebell lunges into your routine? Smart choice. They may make you hate us for teaching you but your glutes and legs will thank you later. Not only will your muscles be on fire but you will greatly improve your proprioception, balance, and coordination, which is extremely important.
The best part is...there are many kettlebell lunge variations! We are going to teach you 8 of the best ones as it is necessary to change up the variables of your workouts so you’re hitting all angles, planes of motion, and muscles effectively. Plus, it'll make your workouts more fun.
The kettlebell lunge is one of the most powerful exercises you can do for your legs, butt and core. Not only are you working some of the biggest muscles in the body, you are working on single-leg strength that will help improve your sports performance, core and hip mobility/stability, and overall your everyday life.
Walking upstairs have your legs burning? Not anymore with adding KB Lunges to your workout routine.
There are 4 main grips for the kettlebell lunges:
In order of easiest to hardest...
1. Arms Extended Down Grip:
2. The Goblet Grip:
3. Racked Grip:
If you’re more advanced with kettlebells and know how to hip hinge and swing the bell:
If you aren’t advanced or don’t have a good kettlebell swing, you will use both hands to assist the bell to the racked position:
4. Overhead Grip:
The overhead grip will require the most upper body mobility. However, it won't allow for as heavy of loads as the other grips. So, this is more of a speciality option.
To do this grip, you will do the above techniques for the racked grip and then from there, press the kettlebell overhead. Make sure to pack the shoulder and keep the bell over the shoulder. Knuckles to the ceiling to make sure the wrist stays neutral and isn’t bent in an awkward and uncomfortable position.
The primary muscles that are worked during a kettlebell forward lunge are the glutes, hamstrings, adductors, and quadriceps. It’s clearly a full-body movement but these are the muscles more emphasized. Especially, as you move up in weight.
It’s important to have strong legs and glutes as they are responsible for hip stability and hip extension, protection of the lower back, they keep us upright and pushing forward. The quadriceps are especially important in protecting the knee joints and aid in everyday activities such as walking, climbing stairs, and rising from a seated position.
The single-leg strength is extremely important as humans we spend a lot of time moving back and forth between legs. This means for even just a millisecond we are balancing on one foot with so many other things going on. We shouldn’t have to be thinking about our strength and balance each time a step is taken.
It should also be noted that depending on your grip, other muscles will be worked...
For example: With the racked position and goblet, your upper back and arms work hard to keep the kettlebell in position and your torso upright; With the overhead position, your shoulders and traps will work overtime to keep the bell in place; and all grip variations will work your grip strength.
The lunge is an exercise with a multitude of variations which leads to different techniques and emphasis on different muscle groups. If you want an in-depth look at the biomechanics of lunges, check out our article on what muscles lunges work.
There are plenty of variations of the lunge to add to your workout regime.
Besides the front (aka forward) lunge, which we've went over above, you have...
Your calves will also be working to stabilize your movements! All of these variations will work your core and upper body too.
You will see all of these variations below...
Related: Benefits of Kettlebell Training
As we've already went over the difficulty level of the different grips and how the muscles worked are altered with different lunge variations, we will simply provide step-by-step instructions on how to do each of the kettlebell lunges as well as some important tips where applicable. After, we have a video of all of these exercises in action.
While we tried to put these in order of easiest to hardest, the difficulty may depend on your limitations, such as mobility. For example, if you have good shoulder mobility but not so great hip mobility, the overhead grip lunge may be easier for you than the lateral lunge. So, take the difficulty level with a grain of salt as it depends on the individual...
The static lunge is the perfect way to introduce kettlebell lunges into your routine. While it takes away some coordination demand, as you don't need to move in and out of the lunge position, there is still plenty of demand on balance and stability. And like all of these exercises, you can progress simply by adding reps, volume or weight load.
One thing we really love about this variation, and why it's great for all fitness levels, is that since your feet stay in the same position, you can really hone in on the glutes and quads. Moreover, you can generally use a heavier load.
Pro Tip: Don’t allow the front knee to collapse in. If you feel that start to happen, grip the ground with the toes and fire up the external side of the hip.
The forward lunge is a powerhouse of an exercise for the lower body. If you are looking for an all around lunge, this is it. It will challenge the glutes, hamstrings, quads, transverse abdominal muscles, and calves. Plus, with the goblet grip, your arms and upper back get some love too.
The Goblet Reverse Lunge has a large emphasis on the quadriceps, while also getting the glutes, hamstrings and hip flexor muscles more involved than a forward lunge. Moreover, if you are going to move forward with strength, you better be able to move backward with strength too!
Overall, the importance of having a powerful lower body is great. Strengthening the lower body muscles will help improve so many aspect of your physical health. While having a strong lower body, it with help aid in burning calories and weight loss, reduction of joint pain, reducing the risk of injury and help correct muscle imbalances.
The racked position lunge will not only make your lower body scream but also your core. The racked position of the kettlebell forces you to stabilize throughout your trunk, especially if you are going to do a single racked bell. This is the most powerful way to do lunges and squats with kettlebells. It's total body.
Another reason this lunge is extremely useful is it will find all your imbalances meaning because it can be done as a unilateral movement with one bell, you will figure out which movement patterns are dominant/weaker on each side of the body. The kettlebells are a great tool to have to correct those imbalances.
The overhead lunge is very challenging on the shoulder stabilizer muscles as well as the core. It will also challenge your balance and upper body mobility. This is an advanced exercise to incorporate into your workout regime.
Adding the lateral lunge to your workout regime is important because we sit, stand, walk, run, bike all in the sagittal plane of motion. The lateral lunge will take you out of that and force you to work in the frontal plane. It’s smart to train in different planes of motion so when real life takes you out of one plane of motion, you don’t injury yourself stepping off that sidewalk! As we said, if you are strong moving forward, and strong moving backward, then you better be strong moving to the side too!
The muscles that are targeted while executing the lateral lunge are quadriceps, abductors, glutes, adductors, and hamstrings.
The Racked Lateral Lunge is a movement for an advanced practitioner. The rack position lateral, especially with a considerable load, is very challenging. The same muscles are worked as the previous Lateral Lunge but now there will be a lot more emphasis on the core muscles and obviously with more added weight comes a more powerful lower body.
The clean lunge will give you more complexity which is always great for the brain when the upper and lower body connects during a complex movement. If you DON'T know how to do a kettlebell clean, you must learn that first before incorporating it into a lunge.
The Clean Lunge is a powerful movement used to achieve an advanced combination of stability, reactive strength, acceleration, and deceleration. The Clean Lunge activates muscles in the entire body including the quads, glutes, hamstrings, lower back, core, and triceps.
Then you can either:
This exercise is better to watch in video. Here are all 8 variations demonstrated for you:
The best rep range and volume will be dependent on the individual and the goal they are seeking to achieve. The rep ranges will be different if you are seeking to build muscle or for muscular endurance.
The weight of the kettlebell needs to be taken into consideration as well. It should be challenging enough but don’t work to failure. The last few reps should burn but you should still have gas left to continue on your workout.
Rep Ranges based on your fitness goals:
If you’re looking to build muscle, work in the hypertrophy rep range of 7-15. Make sure the weight of the kettlebell is making you work. Don’t speed through the reps, slow down a bit to create tension and to get all the muscles working together. You’ll want to keep your rest time on the shorter side to maximize your work volume. 30-90 seconds of rest is appropriate for hypertrophy training.
If you are looking to increase strength, build muscle or work on your muscle endurance, you should implement kettlebells into your current workout regime.
You can program lunges into your workout 2x/times per week on a lower body day, push day or full body day. Rep ranges and sets will depend on your overall goal in a particular program. While making sure you’re still working towards the end goal of what you want to accomplish with this workout program.
Let’s just say not every exercise is for everybody. In a perfect world, you should be able to do incorporate and perform both lunges and squats BUT we don’t live in a perfect world.
There are many reasons why you could want to replaces squats with lunges:
Not squatting or not lunging isn’t a forever decision. You made change your mind in a few weeks/months etc.
The squat is performed from a young age just to pick something off the ground and as we age, we use it less and less, as we sit in chairs, are in cars, trains, planes etc. We lose the repetitions of the squats in our everyday life. While lunges mimic walking, running, walking up and down stairs which are movements most people perform everyday.
Lunges will force you to work more on your stabilizing muscles, specifically the core and obliques while doing the unilateral work on the lower body to develop powerhouse muscles.
There are options to add weight, reps and trying different variations of the lunges to find what works and feels the best for you. And which ones will help you reach your overarching fitness goals.
Lunges as with any or most unilateral work will highlight imbalances that you may have that may be hidden when doing bilateral exercises such as squats.
If you aren’t a fan of squatting, its okay, add lunges to your workout regime and you’ll see you will still be able to build muscle and gain strength.
As we can see there are an endless number of benefits to adding kettlebell lunges to your workout program. With that being said, the kettlebell lunge can help with an imbalances you have in your body, increase strength, gain muscle, weight loss and additional calorie burn. Lunges are a great way to develop the lower body and create powerful leg and buttocks muscles. Doing lunges will help make your every day life movements a little easier. Remember, lunges mimic walking, running, climbing up and down stairs, so why not train something you have to do everyday. Not only will they help with your lower body muscles but your core and obliques will reap the benefits of the lunge as well. The whole point of lunges is to gain strength, reduce the risk of injury, aid in injury recovery, and muscle growth!
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