The lunge is esteemed for its prowess as a leg builder. It is functionally valuable, hits your quads, glutes and hamstrings with the force of a sledgehammer shot out of a cannon and is responsible for more than a few next-day limps.

While most lunge devotees report a deep quad soreness, a Swedish study surprised everyone by showing that the walking lunge was actually most beneficial for the strength of the hamstrings, with researchers citing a 35% increase in hamstring strength and no increase in quad strength.

The improvements in hammy strength is most likely due to the great stretch placed on these muscles, which actually stretch across the hip as well as the knee. Still, the fact remains that it is an effective exercise that improves the size and performance of all muscle groups in the legs.

The lunge is also fantastic for athletes since it requires a high degree of balance and it closely mimics several movements in sport. Also, once you manage the standard lunge, you can alter muscle recruitment by stepping out at countless angles.

So are you using the lunge as a regular part of your athletic program? If not, you can try this simple but will-testing 30-day challenge. By performing an increasing number of walking lunges each day, you’ll reacquaint yourself with the benefits of this powerful move, burn a ton of calories and bully your legs into new size and a better overall aesthetic.

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The Challenge

Each day, for 30 days, no matter which bodypart you’re training, perform walking lunges (without additional weight) to failure. In the case of the lunge, failure can be defined as a break of more than 3-5 seconds between strides. Your daily goal in this case should be to travel farther than you did the previous day.

If you’re in your gym, this may mean a trip to the far wall and back. If you are at home, it may mean traveling to the end of the street. You can use a treadmill as well, which allows you to monitor distance very precisely.

>> Make sure you take at least one more step than the previous day.

>> If lunging on a dedicated rest day, be sure that you perform a 5-10 minute dynamic warm-up to prep your hips, knees and ankles for the work ahead.

>> Spend some time stretching and foam rolling glutes, quads, calves and hamstrings immediately post-workout.

>> On each step, try to press through your whole foot and try not to let your front knee pass your toes.

>> At the end of the 30 days, take a few days off from the lunge altogether. When you take it up again, you can make lunges one of the key mass-builders in your routine by placing it first or second on leg day. Start with dumbbell or barbell walking lunges for a few weeks, then branch out into other variations like lateral lunges, reverse lunges or even jumping lunges.