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Strong, lean legs are a goal of many athletes and gym-goers. While traditional exercises such as squats and deadlifts make an appearance in many lower body workouts, there are other exercises that target the leg muscles that you can add to the lineup.

Jumping lunges are a fantastic lower body exercise that increases the intensity and difficulty of the basic lunge by adding a jump. The addition of a plyometric jump not only challenges the quads, hamstrings, glutes, hip flexors, and calves, but it also recruits your cardiovascular system. This gives your heart rate a boost and helps you burn more calories.

So, if you’re ready for an advanced variation of the walking lunge, you might want to give the jumping lunge a try.

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Being able to perform the jumping lunge exercise successfully depends on how strict you can keep your form, how smooth you can make the transition, and how gently you can land.

Here are the steps to do the jumping lunge exercise properly, safely, and effectively.

Before starting, make sure you have a space large enough to perform the move. Also consider moving benches and other equipment out of the way.

  1. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, with your core engaged.
  2. Take a big step forward with your right leg. Keep your arms by your side.
  3. Shift your weight forward with this leg, so your heel touches the floor first. Then lower your body until the forward leg is parallel to the floor. This is the bottom position.
  4. Jump up, quickly switching the position of your feet while mid-air so your right leg moves back behind you and your left leg comes forward. To help you move explosively, propel your arms into the air while you jump.
  5. Gently land back on the floor in a basic lunge position with the opposite leg forward.
  6. Repeat this movement pattern, switching legs on each jump, for the desired amount of time or repetitions. Beginners should aim for 5 to 10 reps on each leg or 30 seconds total. As this gets easier, work your way up to 60 seconds of continuous jumping lunges.

The jumping lunge is an advanced move. Even if you have a high fitness level, you still need to pay attention to all of the movements that make up this exercise. And since this exercise is plyometric, it requires strength, balance, and quickness to perform.

With that in mind, here are some tips to help you successfully and safely perform the jumping lunge.

  1. Since the jumping lunge is an advanced move, you must first be able to master the basic lunge. If you’re not comfortable performing a walking lunge or you have questions about your form, ask a fitness professional to watch you do the move before moving on to the jumping lunge.
  2. Avoid landing too hard. Yes, this an explosive movement, but you don’t want to hit the ground too hard. If you’re landing too hard, scale back on how high you jump or shorten up your stance, and focus on a softer landing.
  3. If you feel any discomfort in your lower body, especially your knees, stop the exercise and check your form. If the pain continues, ask a trainer to evaluate your posture. This exercise is not recommended for people with knee or hip issues.
  4. Keep your torso upright with your chest tall and square to the wall in front of you. This will keep you from bending forward and rotating your upper body. When you jump, think to yourself, “straight up and straight down.”
  5. Once you’re comfortable with the move, try to spend as little time as possible on the ground. Moving at a quick pace is key to making this a plyometric exercise.

If you’re not liking the jumping lunge, there are simpler moves you can do that mimic a similar movement pattern.

Step forward and behind

Perform a stationary forward and reverse lunge. Start by standing with feet shoulder-width apart. Step forward with the right foot, bending both the right and left knees to 90-degrees. Step back to standing position and repeat on the other side. Next, step back for a reverse lunge on each leg.

Try walking lunges

Take the movement from the forward lunge and transfer it to a walking lunge, alternating the right leg with the left leg. Walk forward doing 10 lunges on each leg.

Use TRX suspension straps

If you have access to a TRX suspension device, try performing jumping lunges while holding onto the straps. This will help you keep your balance and body posture upright while learning how to perform the jumping portion of the exercise.

When you’re ready to up the intensity of jumping lunges, consider trying one of these modifications:

  • Superset jumping lunges with a weighted leg exercise such as squats or the leg press.
  • Do a jumping lunge with a torso twist. Start in the jumping lunge position, but when you land, use your core to twist your body to the right. Repeat on the other side.
  • Increase the amount of time you perform your set of jumping lunges.
  • Increase the intensity and difficulty by jumping faster or higher.

Once you’ve practiced the jumping lunge on its own and feel confident about your form, it’s time to add it to your workouts. The easiest way to include the jumping lunge is to incorporate it into a lower body day.

If you typically do static lunges, swap those out for the jumping lunge at least one day a week. You can pair this move with squats, deadlifts, leg press, or hamstring curls.

Beginner to intermediate levels should do the jumping lunge on its own with a 30-second rest break after each set. More advanced levels can superset the jumping lunge with a set of light squats, leg presses, or squat thrust exercises.

Having the strength, balance, and aerobic fitness to perform the jumping lunge correctly is no easy feat. That’s why it’s important to master the basic lunge first.

Once you feel confident repping out a few forward and reverse lunges, it’s time to challenge yourself by adding the jumping lunge to your lineup of lower body exercises.