Jumping Lunges — Muscles Worked, Exercise Demo, and Benefits

Jumping lunges are a unilateral plyometric exercise that can help to increase athletic performance, unilateral stability and power, and increase your ability to withstand joint stress while running, playing a pickup game of basketball, and even split jerking your next clean and jerk PR.

In this article we will discuss the jumping lunge, how to do them, and why many of us can benefit from including them in our training routines.

Muscles Worked

Below is a listing of the primary muscle groups worked during jumping lunges.

  • Quadriceps
  • Hamstrings
  • Gluteus Maximus
  • Vastus Medialis Oblique
  • Hip Flexors
  • Calves

Jumping Lunge Exercise Demo

Below is a video demonstration on how to perform the jumping lunge. Note, that the jumping lunge is nearly identical to the standard lunge, however done explosively.

Benefits of Jumping Lunges

Below are some benefits one can expect from performing jumping lunges.

Application to Human Locomotion

The jumping lunge is a dynamic and ballistic movement that involves the ankles, knees, and hips flexing and extending in unison to produce triple extension, in a unilateral setting. As humans, we move typically supported on one leg (other than standing or walking), and therefore should have the ability to support oneself explosively on a single leg, transfer force and weight to the other, and absorb/react to opposing forces. All of those properties are needed when we run, jump, play sports, and do many athletic tasks. For those athletes who find themselves in a more sagittal world (powerlifting, weightlifting, etc) building these into your training will help to bulletproof your body and maximize your lower body power output.

Unilateral Plyometrics

The benefits of plyometric training have been discussed throughout many of my previous articles, and this exercise is no different (other than the fact it also combines all the benefits of unilateral training, which are discussed in detail here). By combining both of these types of movement (unilateral + plyometric) you are able to bridge the gap from training to the real world, competitive environment; and maximize athletic potential.

Knee, Hip, and Ankle Stability

By no means should this exercise be thought of as a traditional “stability” exercise, as the explosive and complex nature of this movement requires already a great amount of stability and strength. The jumping lunge can however, develop great stability during ballistic and dynamic joint movements similar to that in running, athletics, split jerks, etc. The ability to properly accelerate and decelerate joints (and resist knee collapse inwards) are key to preventing injury at the knee and hip for nearly every athlete.

Jumping Lunge Variations

Below are a few jumping lunge variations that coaches and athletes can build into most fitness and training programs to bring about training benefits discussed above. Note, that some of the below “variations” are simply assisted jumping lunges, regressions, and progressions; all of which will be specified.

Assisted Jumping Lunge (TRX/Bands)

This is a regressed version of the jumping lunge, one that entails a lifter to use bands to help them find their balance in the air and to gain some control in the landing of the movement. The exercise demonstration of how to perform these can be seen below.

Jumping Split Squat

This is very similar to the full on jumping lunge, however has the lifter only “hop” off the floor, slightly picking up the back heel as the jump. This is a slightly regressed variation and can be a good developmental progression to build towards the full on jumping lunge. The exercise demonstration of how to perform these can be seen below.

Alternating / Scissor Jumping Lunge

This is a complex progression of the jumping lunge, one that entails the lifter to switch their lead legs while in mid flight and alternative every options (so the lead legs are changing every rep). This requires a great balance, body control, and leg power to allow one to switch quickly in the air and land under control. The exercise demonstration of how to perform these can be seen below.

More Lunges

Check out the articles below for more lunge exercises and workouts!

Feaured Image: @jgreenewod on Instagram

Editor’s Note: Matt Mosman, CSCS, Co-Founder of EndurElite, with an M.S. Exercise Physiology, had this to add after reading the above article:

“Include a general warm – up (i.e. 5-10 minutes of easy jogging) followed by low intensity, dynamic movements (i.e. high knees, butt kicks, etc…) before starting a plyo based workout. Be sure to employ proper landing technique…shoulders should be over the knees during landing. For lower body plyometrics jumping lunges for instance, adequate strength is important – The NSCA guidelines recommend that individuals be able to squat 1.5 times his or her body weight. Solid balance is also important. You can test your balance ability by standing on one leg for 30 seconds without falling. Keep in mind that injury, obesity and lack of strength can put you at a greater risk of injury while performing ploy exercises. Be mindful around your ability level and exercise safely!”