Sport-Specific Lunge Variations

May 1, 2008 | Featured in the May 2008 Issue

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In this day and age, training is sport-specific. Traditional exercises are often tweaked to mimic the movements of your sport, making you faster and more powerful. The Lunge is a good example. Here’s a look at some sport-specific Lunge variations, along with the benefits of each.

Baseball: Walking Lunge with Rotation
Who uses it: Justin Morneau, Minnesota Twins first baseman
Who coaches it: Twist Conditioning’s Dean Shiels, vice president of athlete conditioning;
Miki Kawahara, manager of baseball conditioning
Kawahara says: “We employ the Walking Lunge with Rotation toward the end of the dynamic warm-up to put the muscles through the range of motion they’ll be experiencing during the workout. The Lunge gets a nice, long stretch for the hip flexors, and works the glutes and hamstrings. The rotation gets the lower back warmed up without too much force or weight.”

•    Place six cones five to seven yards apart in zigzag pattern
•    Step into lunge toward first cone
•    Drop hips until back knee is one or two inches off ground
•    With arms at shoulder level, rotate upper body to same side as forward leg
•    Step forward with opposite leg; repeat
•    Continue pattern moving from cone to cone
•    Repeat zigzag pattern twice, jogging back to start

Shiels’ Tips: Make sure to hold for two seconds at the bottom of the Lunge // Keep your arms at shoulder height // Cycle the leg out as far as possible with each step // Really drop your hips into the Lunge

Wrestling: Walking Lunges for Distance
Who uses it: Central Michigan wrestling team
Who coaches it: Greg Halberg, former Central Michigan University head strength and conditioning coach; Chris Sandeen, former CMU assistant strength and conditioning coach
Sandeen says: “The Walking Lunge takes you through the same motion you use when you are taking a shot. A wrestler must be able to replicate that movement over and over throughout the course of a match, so he must be conditioned to do so.”

•    Beginning at goal line of football field, step forward into Lunge
•    Lower until back knee is almost touching ground, keeping front knee behind toes
•    Rise to standing position; repeat with opposite leg
•    Perform in continuous fashion over specified distance

Reps // Distance // Rest Time: 4 / 50 yards / 1-2 minutes
*Gradually increase reps and distance and decrease rest as season approaches
Halberg’s Tips: “For a high school athlete, start at a point where you will not destroy yourself for next year. The key is to improve as you go so that you can go a little longer each time as you cut the recovery down. Starting in May, look forward to where you want to be in November. Then you can work backward and build up to that point.”

Basketball: Resistance Band Walking Lunge with Med Ball Rotation
Who uses it: Brandon Roy, Portland Trailblazers guard
Who coaches it: Travelle Gaines, director of pro athlete development for Elite Athletics
Gaines says: “Basketball is such a grappling sport that you’re always swiping at people or grabbing rebounds, so you have to be strong through your obliques. This [exercise] works hip flexibility and the oblique muscles, because you have to squeeze your core while rotating. The more hip flexibility and mobility you have, the more explosive you can be.”

•    Stand with resistance bands around ankles, holding med ball
•    Step forward with left foot and lower into Lunge
•    Hold position, then rotate upper body to left with ball
•    Bring right foot forward, so it’s even with right foot
•    Perform to right
•    Repeat in continuous fashion for specified distance

Sets // Distance: 4/10 yards
Gaines’ Tips: Bring your foot over the opposite calf every time you step into the Lunge // Keep your chest up and shoulders back // Follow the med ball with your eyes during each rotation.

Football: 45-Degree Lunge Walk with Sled Drive
Who uses it: Julius Peppers, Carolina Panthers defensive end
Who coaches it: Danny Arnold, Plex owner and director of operations
Arnold says: “Football is not played in a controlled environment, so very rarely will you be in a perfect stance. You have to be powerful and be able to react and explode when your feet are not lined up perfectly underneath you. This [drill] helps improve your power when your legs are fatigued and in an imperfect stance.”

•    Perform 45-degree Lunge Walk for 10 yards—stepping diagonally each time—toward sled
•    Upon reaching sled, explode into it without taking false step or adjusting feet in any way

Sets // Distance // Rest Time: 3/10 yards/60 seconds between sets
Arnold’s Tips: Don’t rush this drill // Keep it controlled so you work your balance

Topics: LUNGE
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