Once you try it, you'll know EXACTLY why I call them "Cursing Lunges."
The purpose of this exercise is to put a HARD contraction on your quadriceps, similar to what you get with a Leg Extension but without the torque that Leg Extension puts on your knee joints.
And it flat-out WORKS.
Basically, you're going to be doing what looks like a hack lunge with a barbell (like a lunge holding the barbell behind your back instead of on your shoulders). That's about the best way to describe it.
It's got some key points that take the exercise from a mere lunge to something that will light a fire in the quads that will leave you on the floor - pretty much every set I did of this exercises ended with me falling down.
You can do this exercise freestanding or with the bar set up in the rack. I prefer the rack because it allows you to more easily set the bar down once you're done. The freestanding version is absolutely effective too, though, and I'll use just an empty bar to demonstrate the exercise that way first.
Stand in front of the barbell, squat down and grab it with an overhand grip. Once you've gripped the bar, stand up, bringing the bar up behind you so it's resting on the backs of your thighs, just below the glutes.
Now step your left leg forward and bend your front knee. Come down until your right knee is about 6 inches off the ground...we don't want to come down fully into the lunge for this exercise.
Now the fun begins...instead of standing upright, keep your torso leaning forward. Instead of standing up fully into the top position, just straighten your BACK leg, PUSHING THE BARBELL UP AND BACK on your hamstring as you do so.
Basically, even though your left leg is forward, it's the RIGHT leg that actually is working directly against the resistance of the barbell. The harder you push to straighten your leg, the stronger the contraction you'll get in the quads. And this exercise is all about the contraction.
You're supporting the entire weight of the barbell on your thigh and quad contraction is what's keeping it there. The left leg gets some work but not nearly as much as the right leg...your back leg is the one to really focus on.
Here's a back view of the bar placement during the exercise.
Even at the bottom of the lunge, when your right leg is bent, you're actually putting a good STRETCH on the right quads as well.
THAT is the reason I call this the Barbell Cursing Lunge... the quads of your back leg get NO break through the whole exercise from stretch to contraction and through the ENTIRE set.
With a regular lunge or squat, when you come to the top, your skeleton is supporting the weight, not your muscles. It's tough to keep a contraction without shortening the range of motion.
With this exercise, the more you try and lock out at the top, the stronger the contraction you'll get in the quads and the harder the exercise will work you.
Take my word for it, it's a serious experience in leg training and it'll really open your eyes. It blew my mind when I came up with it.
And THAT is the reason I prefer to do this exercise in the rack... because when you're done, you're DONE. Your leg will give out from the burn and you'll have to set the weight down. The shorter the distance the barbell has to go, the better. If you're doing it freestanding, you'll have to hold back a little for safety reasons.
Having the bar a little higher up at the start also makes it easier to begin the exercise and get the bar into position.
As I mentioned, this exercise is best done in a rack for safety reasons...doing it in a rack will allow you to really push your legs HARD and maximize the effect of the exercise.
First, set the safety rails in the rack to about a foot or so off the ground (I find just below knee height to be about right). Set a barbell on the rails then load up a moderate weight. The first time you do it, start light to get the feel for the exercise.
Get into the lunge position with the bar on the back of your leg, then stand up into the top position.
Now bend your back leg knee, get the stretch, then straighten the knee, focusing on the peak contraction of the quads.
When you're completed your set (and you can really push until the point where your legs get overwhelmed by lactic acid), just set the bar down on the rails and sit on it.
At this point, you can go straight into working the other side, or take a rest before hitting that other side.
You don't need a lot of weight for this one to work...I've got just 135 lbs on the bar. It's a great "finishing" exercise for the quads, especially as a peak contraction position alternative exercise to leg extensions.
Take it to the limit and let the cursing begin.
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