The lunge is a well-liked leg-strengthening exercise that will spice up your routine. Also, changing your technique enables you to highlight various muscles or elements of those muscles.

This exercise is helpful for both preventing injuries and recovering from them. It frequently forms a component of a rehab protocol or foundational strength program, enabling athletes and exercisers to get back to their sport or favorite activity as soon as possible.

The lunge is another useful workout that gets your body ready for movements you’ll require in everyday life.

It resembles many of the movements and muscle-activation patterns of daily activities, such as walking, running, and ascending or descending stairs. For instance, it’s a frequent position individuals assume to rise up from the ground.

In a single workout, this powerful action trains a variety of lower body muscles. It is simple to do and offers a lot of advantages. These points, as well as variations to change the difficulty level and emphasize particular muscles, are covered below.

What muscles are worked in a lunge?

In a lunge, many muscles work to both mobilize and stabilize the body. They include:

  • the quadriceps
  • the gluteals
  • the hamstrings
  • the calves (gastrocnemius and soleus)
  • the transverse abdominis
  • the obliques
  • the multifidus
  • the erector spinae

During the lunge, the lower body’s muscles, particularly the quadriceps, glutes, and hamstrings, engage in both eccentric and concentric contractions.

The forward lunge is the most fundamental type of lunge. It entails taking a step forward, dropping your body to the ground, and then stepping back into place. That is the version that most people use when they refer to „doing lunges.“

Your leg muscles must initially regulate the impact of your foot’s landing during the workout. The eccentric portion of the movement is when you lower your body even more to the ground.

Your muscles are stretching under stress during this stage to control the action. Your landing is slowed down by your quadriceps, which also help to control the descent along with your hamstrings and gluteals.

Both the front and rear legs‘ muscles operate eccentrically, however research has shown that the front leg’s glute and hamstring muscles work a little bit harder.

During the step-back portion of the forward lunge, a dynamic push is used to return to the starting position. The body is pushed upright by the same muscles contracting firmly. When the muscles are shortening (contracting) to move the body, this part of the movement is known as the concentric phase.

Lunges are effective in part because of the work the body must do during the eccentric period. When comparing hypertrophy and muscle size, research has shown that eccentric muscle contraction is more effective than concentric muscle contraction.


The gluteals, quadriceps, and hamstrings are the main muscles worked during lunges. These muscles contract during the concentric phase to bring your body back to the starting position after lengthening during the eccentric phase as you lower to the ground.

What are the benefits of lunges?

Lunges have a variety of advantages. The main benefit is that they simultaneously work multiple lower body muscle groups. As a result, they play a significant role in many strengthening and injury prevention programs, including those for the prevention of anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries.

With the greater strain needed by the lead leg compared to the rear, lunges are regarded as unilateral exercises.

Compared to exercises like squats, this makes it possible to strengthen asymmetries in the body more effectively. Also, lunges test and enhance your stability and balance when doing unilateral movements.

Given that the motions are similar to running, lunging is a fantastic exercise for runners. The movements from the step out through the landing are comparable to those of a running stride, but without the significant ground reaction force that a runner’s body experiences.

Because to this, lunging is a fantastic workout for developing stronger muscles that can cushion the impact of actions that are more intense. An earlier study discovered that lunges, particularly the walking or jumping varieties, are exceptionally useful for training young athletes.

Additionally, the lunge simultaneously engages opposing leg muscles. This may result in a resistance training regimen being more effective.

Exercises that engage numerous joints at once should be included if you just have time for a few exercises.


Lunges are crucial for both building muscle and preventing injuries. They are a type of functional exercise that simultaneously engages several muscles around the joints of the ankle, knee, and hip. Also, they put their core stability under stress when they move one way.

How to do a lunge

  1. Start in a standing position with your feet hip-width apart.
  2. Step forward longer than a walking stride so one leg is ahead of your torso and the other is behind. Your foot should land flat and remain flat while it’s on the ground. Your rear heel will rise off of the ground.
  3. Bend your knees to approximately 90 degrees as you lower yourself. Remember to keep your trunk upright and core engaged.
  4. Then, forcefully push off from your front leg to return to the starting position.

Points to remember:

  • Your lead knee should not go past your toes as you lower toward the ground.
  • Your rear knee should not touch the ground.
  • Aim to keep your hips symmetrical (at the same height, without dropping the hip of your back leg or hiking the hip of your front leg).
  • Contract your abdominals during the movement to help keep your trunk upright.
  • Your feet should stay hip-width apart during the landing and return.

Variations on a lunge (and when to use each)

The lunge can be done in a variety of ways. Each exercises the same muscles, but focuses more on particular regions than others. To add diversity and difficulty to your workout, you can execute a different variant each session or mix several.

Static lunge

The split squat, commonly referred to as the static lunge, does not require an outward or a backward stride. Thus, it can be easier to perform for those who have knee pain or as an introduction to lunging exercises.

As with the forward lunge, the medial and lateral quadriceps muscles are highlighted.

How to perform:

  1. Stand in a split-stance position with your feet hip-width apart and one foot in front of the other. Your back heel will be off of the ground.
  2. Lower yourself toward the ground by bending your knees to a 90-degree angle.
  3. Initiating the movement from your glutes and then firing into the quadriceps to straighten the knee, push into both feet and return to the upright position.

Make this workout a leaping lunge to turn it into an advanced plyometric exercise. Explosively push off of both feet at the bottom of your lunge, switch them mid-air, and land in a lunge with the other foot in front.

Jumping lunges are quite challenging, so if you’re not sure if they’re appropriate, talk to a trainer first.

Back lunge

The reverse lunge is executed the same way as the forward-stepping lunge, with the exception that your back foot moves.

Less stress is placed on the quadriceps muscles and more attention is placed on the gluteals and hamstrings because the motion of the exercise is rearward through space. Thus, the impact on the knee is reduced.

How to perform:

  1. Start in a standing position with your feet hip-width apart.
  2. Step backward longer than a walking stride so one leg remains ahead of your torso and the other behind it. Your back foot should land at the ball of your foot with your heel lifted.
  3. Bend your knees to approximately 90 degrees as you lower yourself. Remember to keep your trunk upright and your hips level.
  4. Forcefully push off from the ball of the back foot to return to the starting position.

Lateral lunge

In place of a forward or backward stride, the lateral lunge incorporates a step to the side. The inside groin muscles (the adductors) are more engaged in this form of lunges than in the other varieties due to the lateral movement pattern. Also highlighted are the medial quadriceps.

How to perform:

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart.
  2. Step out wide to the side while keeping your other foot flat.
  3. Bend your “stepping” knee while keeping the other knee straight. Your body will hinge forward slightly, and your shoulders will be slightly ahead of your knee compared with forward and backward lunges.
  4. Forcefully push off from your foot to return to the starting position.

Curtsy lunge

A wonderful exercise to emphasize the gluteus medius and hip adductors is the curtsy lunge (or inner thighs).

The adductors work to hold your legs in that position as you lower, and the gluteus medius works to stabilize your pelvis throughout this exercise as you lunge with crossed legs.

How to perform:

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart.
  2. Step one leg behind the other and out to the side, crossing your legs in the process. The heel of your back foot will lift off of the ground.
  3. Bend both knees, lowering until your front thigh is parallel to the floor. Keep your chest lifted, your core engaged, and your knees moving directly over your toes.
  4. Press into your legs (especially the front leg) to straighten both knees, simultaneously lifting your back foot to bring it back to a hip-width, parallel stance.
  5. Switch legs, alternating as you go, or stay on one leg at a time if balance is a challenge. Be sure to complete an even number of reps on both sides.

Walking lunge

The walking lunge can also be performed walking backward, although this is how the exercise is often executed. It emphasizes the medial quadriceps, hamstrings, and gluteal muscles more.

How to perform:

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart.
  2. Step forward and bend both knees, lowering until your knees are bent at a 90-degree angle.
  3. Shift forward onto the lead leg.
  4. Push off on both legs and step through, lifting your back leg and bringing it forward so your rear foot lands ahead of you in a lunge position.
  5. Shift forward again and repeat.

A version of the walking lunge is to lunge forward while straightening both legs by stepping the back foot forward to land parallel to the front foot. This returns you to the starting position. After that, you can switch and advance with the other foot.

Compared to the variant where you step through, this variation is simpler and requires less balance.

Adding weight to your lunges

If you decide to add weight, start with less than you would normally use for a squat or deadlift. This is especially crucial while performing lunges that require you to step away from your center of gravity.

There are a few ways you can add weight. You are able to carry two dumbbells. As with a barbell squat, you can also perform the lunge while holding a barbell on your shoulders. To stabilize the weight, your back extensors and core muscles will have to work harder.

Alternately, grip one dumbbell in the opposite hand from the lead leg while you lunge. In order to stabilize the trunk, this places more attention on the upper gluteal muscles and the oblique muscles.


The lunge can be done in a variety of ways. They comprise, to mention a few, the static lunge, reverse lunge, lateral lunge, curtsy lunge, and walking lunges. To make the exercise more difficult and engage your trunk muscles harder, you can also add weight.

The Conclusion

The lunge is a great exercise for working the lower body muscles. It offers numerous versions to highlight the hamstrings, glutes, quadriceps, and more. Whether you’re a novice lifter or a seasoned pro, the variants let you scale the exercise to your level.

Use this exercise in your routine and take pleasure in the variations to keep things fresh.