Some people consider doing the jump lunge for a variety of reasons and conclude they don’t like it. Luckily there are alternatives with similar effects too.
Jump lunges help you train a variety of leg muscles in an explosive and unilateral (one side at a time) way. Additionally, you get a nice amount of calorie-burning, better bone density, etc.
On the other hand, this exercise is not perfect. It can be hard to put your legs under equal pressure which can lead to muscle imbalances.
Jump lunges can also be challenging when it comes to balancing and can be hard on your ankles and knees. Additionally, some people simply don’t like this exercise.
For these and other reasons you can consider some of the substitutes for jump lunges below. These can offer you some of the same benefits while compensating for some of the downsides.
1. (Weighted) jump squats
Individuals who are more experienced with resistance training likely need extra resistance to make jump squats challenging enough.
A good trap/hex bar is a great option for this but other weights like dumbbells can work too.
On the other hand, individuals who are not that strong (yet) may have enough with the bodyweight version. Take the following steps to do a jump squat:
- Stand up straight with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Keep your arms hanging down throughout the exercise to focus more on your leg muscles.
- Slowly lower your hips by bending your knees. How far depends on different factors like knee health but at your lowest point you ideally want your hips to be at or lower than your knee height. You will likely have to bend forward for balance but keep your back in a somewhat straight line throughout the movement.
- Push up your upper body in a fast way. You have to generate enough upward power so that you jump in the air. Try to avoid using your arms for momentum if you want to target your leg muscles.
- How you want to land depends on what body parts you want to absorb the shock. You generally want to at least fold your legs slightly so your knees don’t absorb all the weight.
Jump squats can be a good alternative to jump lunges if you want to make sure you work both legs to about the same extent. Additionally, this exercise tends to be more comfortable on your ankles.
Since your body weight rests on both legs instead of one, jump squats are easier than jump lunges. For some individuals, this will be a benefit.
For other stronger individuals, this will be a downside. These people will likely need to do jump squats with extra resistance to make it more challenging.
Besides that, jump squats can still be uncomfortable on your ankles and knees.
2. Box jumps
For the next jump lunge alternative, you need an elevated platform that is strong and stable enough to jump on. A plyo box is an example of a suited object. Once you have one of these, take the following steps to do a box jump:
- Stand upright in front of the box with your feet at shoulder width.
- Bend into about a quarter squat while you swing your arms back.
- Swing your arms to the front again and at the same time jump forward on top of the box. When landing you want to have your knees more or less at the quarter squat again. If your hips are lower than that, it may be a sign the box is too high for your current jump level.
- Step down for the next repetition.
Make sure you pay attention to using the right technique to avoid any injuries. It is also smart to start with a low height and build up from there for this alternative.
Being too optimistic about your capabilities can be especially punishing when doing box jumps.
Jump lunges can be challenging on your knees, ankles, lower back, etc. because of the momentum you build up after jumping.
By landing on a box right before you start building up speed, the exercise becomes a lot easier on your body. At the same time, you are still training your quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings, and calves in an explosive way.
One potential downside is that box jumps may be too easy for stronger individuals.
Adding weights can be challenging because of the coordination required but you could consider wearing a close-fitting weighted vest that does not bounce around.
3. Bulgarian split squats
For Bulgarian split squats, you want a step, bench, or any other stable object at about knee height. Once you have that, take the following steps to do a Bulgarian split squat:
- Stand in front of the stable object with your back to it. Keep about a leg distance between you and the object.
- Move one leg back and put the foot of this side on the object. The top of your foot should lean on the surface of the object.
- Slowly lower your hips by bending the knee of your stretched leg until your hip is at about the height of your knee of the previously stretched leg. Use your arms for balance if needed.
- Push yourself up again into the position of step 2.
- Repeat the same number of repetitions on the leg of the other side to keep your muscle distribution balanced.
Some people also do jump lunges to make the exercise more challenging on their muscles than regular lunges. To jump up you have to generate more force faster compared to stopping at the top of the movement.
Another way to do this is by elevating your back leg. This puts more of your body weight on the front leg.
Since challenging your muscles enough is so important for muscle growth and strength, Bulgarian split squats can be a great alternative.
You can even do them fast to make the movement more plyometric. With weights if needed.
4. Power skips
For the next alternative to jump lunges you need enough room in terms of height and length. Once you have that, take the following steps to do a power skip:
- Stand upright with your feet at about shoulder width.
- Move up one thigh as far as comfortable while folding this leg, push offer the ground with your calf of the other leg, and move up the arm opposite of the leg that is in the air. Do all of this in an explosive way so that you jump off the ground.
- Land first with the foot closest to the ground. Make sure your leg is slightly less than stretched so it can fold a bit on impact.
- Stretch the leg that is in the air to slightly less than stretched and land with this leg on the ground.
- Repeat the movement with the other leg raised first. To do multiple power skips you keep alternating between what leg goes first.
There are different ways to do the power skip exercise depending on what aspects of jump lunges you like. For example, if you like the cardiovascular engagement of jump lunges, you would do smaller power skips at a faster pace.
On the other hand, if you like the explosive quadricep, glute, hamstring, and calf muscle training, you would go through your knees more, jump higher, and potentially wear a good weighted vest that does not bounce around.
Power skips do still have similar downsides as jump lunges. It is hard to put your legs under the exact same pressure which can lead to muscle imbalances. They can also be hard on your knees, ankles, and lower back.
The main reason to do power skips is if you like them more than jump lunges. Enjoying your workouts can improve consistency and in turn offer many benefits.
For step-ups you will again need a stable object strong enough to stand on at about knee height. Examples include a plyo box, a stepper, a park bench, a concrete platform, stairs, etc.
Once you have a suited platform, take the following steps to do a step-up:
- Stand upright in front of the object facing toward it with your feet at shoulder width.
- Raise one foot and put it on the surface of the object. Make sure your sole is entirely on the surface.
- Raise your body by exerting pressure with the leg of the foot that is on the object. Make sure the upper leg is doing most, preferably all, of the lifting.
- Put your second foot next to the other one.
- Step down with the first foot.
- Step down with the second foot.
- Do a repetition with the other foot first.
Make sure you do the same number of step-ups on each leg to avoid muscle imbalances.
Similar to Bulgarian split squats, the main area where step-ups can substitute jump lunges is offering a more challenging alternative for your quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings, and calf muscles.
That being said, individuals more experienced with resistance training may need to do weighted step-ups anyway to grow and strengthen these muscles.
Potentially at a fast pace to train in a more plyometric way similar to jump lunges.