7 Lunges to Sculpt Your Legs, Thighs, & Glutes From Every Angle

Weight Loss Program
Weight Loss Program

Any personal trainer will tell you that squats aren’t the only exercise for working your leg muscles. Lunges are outstanding workouts for your lower body. And they make a perfect exercise for travelers because they can be done anywhere, at bodyweight, and require no equipment. The other great things about lunge exercises? You will never be bored since there are tons of fantastic variations.

There are even variations on the variations! Lunges work your groin, quads, glutes, hamstrings, and calves.

Basic Forward Lunge

Let’s start with your Basic Forward Lunge at body weight. Once you have added these to your routine and mastered them, you can move to the many variations below.

How to do a Lunge:

  1. Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart. Tighten your core, and step forward with one foot, adjusting your weight, so your heel hits first. Keep the other foot planted flat on the floor.
  2. Bend your front leg until your thigh is parallel to the floor. If you have the flexibility, tap the back knee lightly on the ground. As you lunge, keep your head up. Then, press into the heel of your front foot and drive back up to your standing position.
  3. Complete 8 to 12 reps stepping forward with the right leg, then switch legs and repeat on the left side. Do 3 to 4 sets.

7 Lunge Variations

lunge

1. Side Lunges

Side lunges work your quads, glutes, and hamstrings, and are also an excellent exercise for your hip flexors.

How to do Side Lunges:

  1. In order to do a side lunge, stand with your feet hip-width apart. Shift your weight to your left leg, but instead of stepping forward like a forward lunge, step far out to the right. Keep your left leg in a straight line and your core engaged.
  2. Your right knee will be bent, and your hips should go back and down.
  3. Push hard through the right heel and return to a standing position. You can alternate legs, or complete all reps on one side. Complete 10 to 12 reps on each side. Do three to four sets.

2. Reverse Lunge

So, we have our basic forward lunge, and we’ve lunged to the side, now we are going to switch directions and lunge backward! Reverse lunges work the muscle groups in your lower body and incorporate your abdominal muscles. 

How to do Reverse Lunges:

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Shift your weight to your left leg, but instead of stepping forward like in a basic forward lunge, step your right leg behind you into the lunge position.
  2. Your left shin will be perpendicular to the floor, knee at a 90-degree angle. Press into your toes to return to your starting position.
  3. You can complete all of the reps on one side or alternate legs. Complete 10 to 12 reps on each side. Do three to four sets.

3. Walking Lunge

Walking lunges are just what they sound like. Instead of staying in place, this exercise incorporates movement. You perform walking lunges in either direction, forward or backward. 

How to do a Forward Walking Lunge:

  1. Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart. Tighten your buttocks, and step forward with one foot, adjusting your weight, so your heel hits first. Keep the other foot planted.
  2. Bend your front leg until your thigh is parallel to the floor, knee bent to 90-degrees. Then, press into the front foot and drive back up to your standing position, bringing your back foot forward to the front foot.
  3. Each “step” of your walk will be a lunge, alternating legs. Complete 10 to 12 steps on each side for a set. 

Walking Lunge with a Twist:

As you are doing your lunges walk, you can also add a twist to work your abs. After you have stepped forward with your right foot, while your front knee is bent and you are in a stable lunge position, twist your torso to the right. Return to the standing position, repeat on the other side, turning to the left. 

4. Dumbbell Lunge

Are you looking to add a challenge to your strength training program? You can also add weight to your lunge workout. Almost all lunge variations can be done with weight; here are two ways athletes use lunges in weightlifting. 

How to do a Dumbbell Lunge:

  1. For a lunge with dumbbells, you will need two weights. Hold a dumbbell in each hand at your sides, with a hip-width stance.
  2. Tighten your core, and step forward with your right foot, adjusting your weight, so your heel hits first. Keep the other foot planted. Bend your right leg until your thigh is parallel to the floor, and your knee is bent.
  3. Pause, and then press into the heel of your right foot and drive back up to your standing position. Complete 8 to 12 reps stepping forward with the right leg, then switch legs and repeat on the left side. Do 3 to 4 sets.

To avoid injury, make sure to choose a weight that is challenging but allows you to maintain proper form and stability.

5. Kettlebell Lunge

Kettlebell lunges, also called goblet lunges, are great for building balance. In addition to working your lower body, they also build muscle in your arms. Kettlebell lunges use your shoulders and biceps. 

How to do a Kettlebell Lunge:

  1. In your starting position, pick up a kettlebell and hold it under your chin. You can hold it so the bell of the kettlebell is hanging down, or flip it over so the bell is under your chin.
  2. Stand with both feet together. Keeping your spine tall, step out with one leg while keeping the other foot planted on the ground. Your front knee should make a 90-degree angle. 
  3. Make sure to keep the kettlebell close to your chest. If it tips forward, that can add unnecessary strain to your back. Push through the heel, and return to a standing position. That is one rep. 
  4. Kettlebells can also be added to a side lunge, or if you don’t have a kettlebell, you can perform lunges with a barbell on your back or in the front rack position.
  5. Complete 8 to 12 reps stepping forward with the right leg, then switch legs and repeat on the left side. Do 3 to 4 sets.

6. Jumping Lunge

We’ve added weight and direction, let’s finish off by adding with these explosive movements to increase cardiovascular fitness and endurance. Additional benefits to this motion include improving coordination, strengthening your core, and developing ankle stability. 

How to do a Jumping Lunge:

  1. Start in the bottom of your lunge position, with your with knees bent and core engaged.
  2. Quickly drive both feet into the floor and jump upward, extending your knees and hips. As you jump into the air, switch your leg position midair, so the foot in front is now in the back. 

Tips: People who experience joint pain when jumping should avoid jumping lunges.

7. Curtsy Lunge

Curtsy lunges are one of the few ways you can target those inner thighs. In this variation, you’ll also be using your glutes, hip flexors, glute muscles, and quadriceps. 

How to do a Curtsy Lunge

  1. Stand with feet hip-width apart, your hands on your hips. With your right leg, take a big step back, crossing it behind your left.
  2. Bend your knees and lower your hips until your left thigh is nearly parallel to the floor. Your knee will be at 90 degrees. Keep your torso upright and your hips and shoulders as square as possible to the wall in front of you.
  3. Return to start. Then repeat on the other side. That’s one rep. 

Last Words

Here’s a tip from a personal trainer: part of a good workout includes a proper warm-up. Lunges and lunge variations are a great way to warm up your lower body, like for days, you are going squat heavy. For overall health, you want to work all of your muscle groups. Lunges offer several options that will help tone muscles and benefit your overall health.

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