It's time to step away from training your “mirror muscles”.

You know a carved core, beefed-up back, and amped-up arms are going to make you look good in a T-shirt, but you're missing out on some huge gains by solely training muscles from the waist up. The solution is simple: Add these lunge variations into your workout regimen. Aside from filling out those chicken legs of yours, lunges will make you a better athlete.

"Training your glutes will give you more speed and explosive power," says Simon King, a personal trainer and the owner of Cre8 Fitness in London. All in all, unilateral exercises are a great way to improve flexibility and balance. And, King adds, "Compound exercises like lunges elicit a huge metabolism response, meaning you burn [a ton of] calories."

If you're ready to bulletproof your body, reduce your risk of injury with the added reward of strong glutes, lean hamstrings, and toned calves, then let's get started with the 13 best lunge variations.

Before you begin any lunge variation on our list, go through this pre-workout checklist:

  • Prepare your body for movement through mobilization and a proper warmup
  • Drive through your heel(s) to maximally recruit your glutes
  • Keep hips aligned to protect any knee deviation
  • Brace your core to create intra-abdominal pressure
  • Keep your head still throughout every exercise

If you’re a beginner, start with a simple static lunge or walking lunge, concentrating on the quality of each rep. Start with 3 sets of 10 reps for each leg. As you become more competent, think about challenging your body as much as possible, increasing the amount of reps and sets, even working toward 10 sets of 10 reps on a more advanced exercise like the rear foot elevated lunge holding dumbbells in each hand.