Jumping lunges are a beneficial unilateral movement that are done to increase leg power and performance. In an earlier article we discussed the benefits of jumping lunges, as well as how to properly perform them. In some cases, however, you may want to select a jumping lunge alternative to fit the needs/demands of your athletes/clients such as those detailed below.
Therefore, in this article we will discuss five jumping lunge alternatives that you can build into training programs to better fit the needs and abilities of your athletes/lifters/clients.
Lack of Balance
In the event someone demonstrates poor balance during the jumping lunge, yet has no issues during lunges and maybe even other single legged movements, you can integrate some of the below alternatives into training programs (such as the band assisted jumping lunge) to increase proprioception, balance, and body awareness while still having them gain valuable training adaptations from the jumping lunge.
Inability to Produce Power
Many individuals will not have the basic abilities or foundational strength to support unilateral power training. In this situation, coaches and athletes must focus on foundational training of the squat, lunge, and other strength work before integrating more demanding (on the joints, tissues, and muscles) plyometrics. Once they have the foundational leg strength needed (which I make my lifters and athletes demonstrate a bodyweight back squat…see example below) yu can them start involving them in plyometrics. Certain alternatives, such as the band assisted jumping lunge, speed split squat, and even power march and skip are great ways to build them towards the standard jumping lunge.
Sometimes there will be injuries that will impeded your ability to involve this into a training program, or you may be fearful that this may increase injury risk based on the stage of development of your client/athlete. If this is the case, you must first determine what the injury/weakness is and ask yourself if they are ready for plyometrics in the first place. For starters, they should be able to perform slow, controlled, and full range of motion lunges, bilateral jump squats, and be able to squat their bodyweight (a 200lb man should then be able to squat 200lbs correctly before going into unloaded plyometrics). Additionally, you may find injury to one leg may impede bilateral power training within a program, however you can still proceed with single leg plyometrics (such as the jumping Bulgarian split squat) to help maintain fitness and power capacities of the body during recovery.
Maximal Power Training
There are times when you may want to assist a capable athlete during a movement they can clearly perform for the sake of overloading and provide additional stimulus. Sometimes that may come in the form of band assisted training (such as band assisted deadlifts, squats, etc). The band assisted jump squat can help to increase balance and stability so that a capable lifter can really focus on power production without having to be totally concerned with body awareness. Additionally, the increased jump heights (due to the band helping them increase vertical output) will place greater eccentric demands on the lifters (due to greater vertical displacement of the jump), which can also have a significant training benefit.
Jumping Lunge Alternatives
Below are five (5) jumping lunge alternatives that coaches and athletes can integrate into training sessions to fit the needs and abilities of their lifters/athletes/clients.
Jumping Bulgarian Split Squat
This alternative is very similar to the jumping lunge, however has a lifter place their back leg on a supportive stand, box, bench, or other piece of equipment to help increase stability of the movement. This can help lifters who are still developing proper body awareness and balance and/or are more concerned with maximal power output in one limb (such as in situation discussed in the above section).
The power march/skip should be a foundational movement for many athletes looking to progress into sprint drills and explosive training. This drill can teach proper leg drive, hip flexor strength and power, and develop the explosive abilities that the athlete must possess for unilateral plyometrics, such as jumping lunges.
Speed Split Squat
This is a slightly regressed version of the jumping lunge that does not have the lifter leave the ground and therefore enhances stability of the movement. By not going into flight, you also decrease the eccentric demands of this exercise, which could be beneficial for those transitioning into the movement from a less than optimal foundation. Below is a video demo on the split squat. The speed split squat is done exactly like the below movement, however is done as fast as one can, without stopping or resting between repetitions and/or the concentric and eccentric phases.
The jump squat is the bilateral form of lower body plyometrics, and can be done to help lifters develop power and body control necessary for plyometrics. Mastering the bilateral movement first is a smart way to limit injury and prepare athletes for the increased demands on unilateral plyometrics.
Assisted Jumping Lunge
Let’s assume the main reason why you are not doing jumping lunges is because an athlete has poor balance, body awareness, or simply is not confident enough with their abilities to land safely. This can be the case with beginners, athletes recovering from injury, and older individuals. While jumping lunges may not be a solid choice due to these limitations, they could bridge the gap between the full blow jumping lunge and speed split squats/Bulgarian jump split squats with this assisted jumping lunge variation. Simply have the lifter place themselves in a jumping lunge setup, however give them a band, TRX straps, or any other supportive piece of equipment that will allow them to find balance and correct any losses of balance while in flight or during the landing phases. I find that the band assisted jumping lunge is a great in-between to (1) improve balance and stability necessary for the jumping lunge while still integrating the movement (2) allowing even experience athletes a little bit of help to really let them attack the powerful plyometric component of the lunge.
More on Lunges and Unilateral Leg Training!
Check out these lunging (and other unilateral movement) guides below to maximize your fitness and strength training.
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