The lunge action is one of the very fundamentals that squash is built around. The ability to rapidly move into and hold a strong stable lunge position is crucial to giving yourself the optimal base for maximising control of your shots.
Alongside the standard linear lunge though, what are the best exercises you can do to improve the strength and stability of your lunge? We recommend the lunge matrix, the lunge walk, & the rear foot elevated split squat.
The lunge matrix is a fantastically versatile exercise in terms of its usage, and provides a very comprehensive reinforcement of the entire spectrum of lunge actions encountered in a typical rally to boot.
Consisting of 20 reps in a ‘clock-face’ type pattern, the lunge matrix can be used with just your standard bodyweight as part of a steady pace warm-up, or it can be done resisted with a barbell/sandbag to make it more of a strength/power exercise. By increasing the pace of the movement, it can also be a useful addition to a speed/ghosting based session.
Whichever way you’re using it, try and take notice of which of the movements you find the most challenging in the lunge matrix. You can then look to isolate these particular lunge actions and work to increase your strength/mobility in those specific ranges.
The lunge walk is perhaps the best of our 3 exercises for working on the crucial aspect of deceleration, and enhancing your body’s ability to absorb the impact of a rapid sprint and lunge encountered in a typical rally.
Usually carried out across the length of the court, the 4 progressions of the exercise ensure your strength/stability is really tested whatever level you’re at.
Even with just the standard linear variation of the exercise though, the contrast of the powerful drive out of the lunge into the focused hold of the next step is an excellent replication of the types of forces that go through your body when moving in and out of your shots in a match. The addition of the multi-directional and rotational aspects in the further progressions allows you to really focus on the squash-specific elements of the movement, and highlight your weaker areas.
Rear Foot Elevated Split Squat
The rear-foot elevated split squat (RESS) or ‘Bulgarian split squat’ as it’s sometimes known, is a great exercise to use to really focus on developing strength and power in each leg in isolation. This can help ensure a more equal spread of force between the legs when lunging in a game situation, and aid in the correction of any muscular imbalances.
The RESS has long been a staple part of many hardcore gym-users programmes, thanks to the challenging load it places on the legs. Its applicability to the lunge action also makes it a perfect addition to the squash players training routine, and the focus of the exercise can be switched to either more endurance or more strength/power depending on the amount of resistance used and the amount of reps completed – typically 6 to 8 reps each leg when done with weights, or 12 to 20 reps when using bodyweight alone.
You can also use the exercise to help enhance your range of motion around the hip, by adding a small platform to the front leg and allowing your back knee to drop that bit deeper at the bottom of the movement.
Not sure where to start with additional lunge training? Try including a mini-circuit of 2 sets of each of these 3 exercises after your usual games/training 2 or 3 times a week, keeping to 1min rest periods between each set.
B.Sc.(Hons), CSCS, NSCA-CPT, Dip. FTST
SquashSkills Fitness & Performance Director