The lunge is not the most glamorous of exercises, forever be in the squat’s shadow, but it’s a fantastic functional exercise with the benefits felt in everyday life. Legs are the primary beneficiary, especially your quads and hamstrings muscles, but you’ll also be pleased by the improved rigidity of your derrière. There are also some core benefits from any kind of lunging, since keeping your midsection engaged throughout the movement is essential to maintaining your balance. Lunging also improves flexibility around the hips, something that’s particularly useful for people who spend eight hours a day sitting at a desk.
So lunging is great, and it only gets greater when you do it in different directions. The reverse lunge involves driving forwards back to the starting position – a movement you’ll replicate in all kinds of sports, not least running – and side lunges work the inner and outer thigh muscles hard as well as further testing your balance. You can do all these different lunges in turn, but if you’re working against the clock, then try working around it, because the clock lunge involves doing forward, reverse and side lunges in quick succession.
How To Do The Clock Lunge
Form is key to a lunge in any direction. Keep your upper body straight as you move, with your chin up and your abs braced. Start by stepping forwards and lower your hips until both knees are bent at 90°, with your front knee above your foot. Then push back up. That’s your standard lunge and the first part of the clock lunge. The 12 o’clock lunge, if you will.
The next step is a side lunge to your right. Make sure to keep your upper body straight and over your leading leg as you lower, keeping the trailing leg straight. Push back the to starting position. That’s your 3 o’clock lunge done.
Next up is a reverse lunge. Step back (towards 6 o’clock – you’re getting this, right?) and lower until both knees are bent at 90°, then push back up. Finish the round with a 9 o’clock side lunge, leading with your left leg. Now you’re back at 12 o’clock, but the lunging isn’t over – do another round leading with the opposite leg on the forward and reverse lunges than you did on the first round to make sure your lower body is nice and balanced.
Clock Lunge Variations
Every hour clock lunge
There are 12 hours on the clock face, so if you feel short-changed by only hitting 3, 6, 9 and 12 you can fill in the gaps with some diagonal lunges towards the hours in between. More lunges is always a good thing, and adding in these angles will work your muscles in different ways.
Weighted clock lunge
The best method to scale up the difficulty of any kind of lunge is to hold dumbbells in each hand, or a kettlebell against your chest. Grab either and add some resistance to your clock lunge.
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Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.