Exercise of the Week: Barbell Step Back Lunges with a Front Squat Grip

Lunges are one of those exercises that no matter how many times you've performed them, they still leave you winded and sore. 

So let's make them even harder, yah?

Usually lunges are loaded with dumbbells or kettlebells held at the side or up at the chest. In a sadistic twist, someone came up with the idea of performing step back (reverse) lunges with a barbell across the windpipe and shoulders. (I bet it was the same person who dictated that hot dogs and hot dog buns come packaged in different increments...)

The advantages of using a barbell:

More weight can be used- grip strength is no longer the limiting factor

Increased core activation and challenge, thus increasing core strength- the position of the load lights up the core musculature and poses a significant challenge.

Can be used as a main movement instead of squat- some folks shouldn't squat (be it injury, structure, or sport), therefore we can still illicit a training effect for the lower body by loading the lunge up and treating it as the main strength move for the day.

It's a self-limiting exercise- if your mechanics are off, or you can't effectively brace your midsection, you'll fail pretty quickly.

Buns of steel- need I say more?

How to:

It's fairly self explanatory, however, here are some key points:

1. Ensure you're proficient in step back lunges- if you're as stable as a Weeble Wobble, you have no business getting under a barbell.

2. Keep your elbows/upper arms parallel to the floor; if those drop, your bar isn't going to stay where it should. You can hold it one of two ways:

The cross grip is usually easier for most people to get into at first. The clean grip requires a fair amount of flexibility at the wrist and forearms. Either way is fine, use the method most comfortable for you. 

3. Brace, brace, and BRACE your midsection. If you get all noodle-y (technical term), then you'll wind up with some cranky joints. 

4. Don't slam your back knee into the ground. Control it; pretend you're placing your back knee on an eggshell and you don't want to crack it. 

You can rest between legs (depending on how heavy you plan on using) or you can do both sides straight through. 

Set/rep recommendations: 3-5 sets of 5-8 reps. Weight used and the volume (number of reps and sets) should be inversely related: the more weight you use, the less reps you perform. 

Throw this bad boy into your training matrix and reap the rewards!