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Take Your Lunges to the Next Level

C9's Cardio Tank (Photo courtesy of target.com)

Last week, I was lucky enough to join in a group training session with star trainer Brett Hoebel, who helped contestants on last season's Biggest Loser ranch drop hundreds of pounds. And let me tell you, he knows how to make a person sweat!

The team from C9 by Champion, Target's super-chic and affordable fitness wear line, organized the event and let a team of editors try Hoebel's capoeira and kickbox fusion class. (Check out the cute tank I sported in class at left —can you believe it's less than $15?)

At the end of the heart-pumping workout that included plenty of squats, jumping jacks, punches and kicks, Hoebel led us through a quick circuit that he promised would help shed pounds if you stick with it. The entire routine was effective, but I had a "light bulb moment" during the lunge section.

Your lower body should be in this position at the bottom of the lunge. (Photo by Karen Pearson)

Your lower body should be in this position at the bottom of a lunge. (Photo by Karen Pearson)

Lunges are normally one of my favorite exercises because they challenge the large muscle groups (in other words, they burn plenty of calories and increase your heart rate!) while strengthening your lower body. So I was pumped when Brett taught the class a few tricks to kick my go-to move up a bit. Try them today:

  • Level 1. Perform a traditional lunge: Step forward with one leg into a lunge position, keeping your front knee behind your toes, and bring foot back to start. Switch legs and repeat.
  • Level 2. Space it out: Complete the same lunge motion, but do it while stepping over the width of a yoga mat (drop the front heel just past the front edge of the mat while keeping the back toe behind the back edge) and lightly tap your back knee on the mat at the bottom of the lunge. Try to step completely over the mat—doing so will ensure that you're taking a large enough step. Bring foot back to start, switch legs and repeat.
  • Level 3. Lunge over an imaginary hill: Continue lunging over the yoga mat, but this time, imagine that you're stepping over a small (approximately six inch) hill in the middle of the mat. This will force you to lift your foot up before gently lowering it down in front of the mat—increasing the leg burning powers. Tap your back knee, like in level two, and bring foot back to start. Switch legs and repeat.

Make any of these variations harder: Hold one dumbbell in each hand.

Do the level that suits you for 30 seconds, take a 30 second break, and repeat three more times.

More from FITNESS: Looking for a fun do-anywhere workout? This routine's for you: 8 Energy-Boosting, Muscle-Toning Moves.

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