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How to Lunge

What is a lunge?

What is a lunge exercise

See all lunge variations

When you're looking to target your legs and bum, you can't beat a lunge. They're safe and easy to perform, you can do them anytime, anywhere, and they work out pretty much all the muscles in your lower body. Key muscles targeted include gluts, quads, hamstrings, calves and core.

Known as a unilateral exercise, lunges work out one side of your body at a time. This helps improve your overall stability, giving your better coordination and balance to perform everyday activities.

Another positive of training one side of your body at a time is it allows you to ensure both sides of the body are getting an equal work out, rather than letting your stronger side do more of the work. 

Lunges are particularly effective in giving your core muscles a work out as it takes some effort to remain upright as you perform the lunge. A stronger core will go some way to improving your posture and warding off lower back pain.

As the exercise targets large muscle groups, it can help give your metabolism a boost which will aid weight loss and tone up key target areas on your legs and bottom. 

Before you plunge right in and give it a go, be sure to check out our top tips and our guide to performing some of our favourite lunges. 

COMMONLY ASKED QUESTIONS ON LUNGES

  • Lunges primarily work the following muscles: quadriceps, hamstrings and glutes but it also involves using you calves and core muscles.

  • Lunges work the quads, hamstrings and glutes. To target the hamstrings more, you can try leaning forwards. This will also further activate the glute medius. If you want to target your quads, a more upright position will target this area.

  • You can build legs muscles doing lunges which can change the appearance of your thighs. But if you’re doing lunges with just your bodyweight alone, it will be unlikely to change the size of your thighs. To make a muscle group or body part bigger, you will need to provide enough training stimulus, for example by using heavier more challenging weights, consistently and for a period, to notice any changes.

  • It is possible to do lunges everyday provided they’re performed at a training intensity where you’re not overtraining. With this said, it probably won’t be optimal so bear in mind that more doesn’t necessarily mean better. It’s important to get adequate rest after you workout to allow your body to recover and repair its muscles and tissues.

Lunge exercise tips

  • As you lunge forward remember to keep the weight in your heel and your knee directly above your toes.
  • Keep your back and shoulders upright as you lunge.
  • Keeping your chin up and head facing forward will help.
  • If you're new to lunges you might find it easier to start with just your bodyweight, and gradually progress to weights once you get comfortable with the movement.

Lunge variations

How to do a Forward lunge

Level: Beginners to Advanced.

Equipment: No equipment necessary. To make this exercise more challenging hold a dumbbell in each hand or use a weighted barbell.

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and with a dumbbell in each hand.
  2. Step forwards with one leg into a long stride and lower into a lunge, bending both knees and keeping your posture upright while ensuring your knees don’t travel over your toes.
  3. Drive through your front heel to return to standing.
  4. Repeat by stopping forward with the opposite leg into another stride.

how to do Reverse lunges

Level: Beginners

Equipment: No equipment required but you can progress this exercise using dumbbells, a barbell or weighted plates.

  1. Stand with feet hip-width apart, then step backwards with your right leg until your knees are at 90-degree angles - your right knee should be pointing towards the ground, your right knee should be in line with your toes.
  2. Push yourself forward to the start position and repeat with your left leg.
  3. Repeat for the required amount of reps.

how to do jumping lunges

Level: Intermediate

Equipment: No equipment required but you can progress this exercise using dumbbells, a barbell or weighted plates.

  1. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, then jump into a lunge position with your right leg forward and left leg back so your knees are at 90-degree angles - your left knee should be pointing towards the ground, your right knee should be in line with your toes. 
  2. Jump up and switch legs so your left leg is forward and right leg back and land in the lunge position. 
  3. Repeat for the required amount of reps.

How to do the clock lunge

Level: Beginners 

Equipment: Bodyweight exercise - no equipment required. You can add resistance using weights to make this exercise more challenging.

  1. Stand tall with hands on your hips and imagine you are standing on an imaginary clock face. 
  2. Brace your core and lunge one leg forward to midnight, then spring yourself back up to standing position. 
  3. Repeat step 2 lunging the same leg to 2 o'clock, 3 o'clock (side or lateral lunge), 4 o'clock and 6 o'clock (reverse lunge).
  4. Repeat with the other leg.

How to do a lateral lunge (or side lunge)

Level: Beginners

Equipment needed: No equipment necessary but if you'd like to make this more challenging you can hold weights.

  1. Begin by standing with feet roughly shoulder width apart.
  2. Take a big step out to the side with your right leg and lower till your right knee is at roughly 90 degrees, keeping your back straight and core tight. You can extend your arms out in front of you or put your hands on your hips. Keep your trailing leg straight.
  3. Push back up to starting position by pressing that right leg into the floor and extending that leg.
  4. Repeat for however many reps, and repeat this with the left leg.

How to do a curtsy lunge

Level: Beginners

Equipment: No equipment required. To add extra resistance, you can use weights if you wish to.

  1. Stand with your feet at roughly shoulder-width apart. You can place your hands on either side of your hip.
  2. Brace your core and step your right foot back and across, as if curtsying to someone, with the ball of your right foot touching the ground and heel off the floor.
  3. Lower your front thigh till it is roughly parallel to the ground.
  4. Push back up to standing by extending your left leg.
  5. Perform however many reps you have planned and repeat with the other leg.

How to do walking lunges

Level: Beginners to Intermediate

Equipment needed: You can do this exercise using just your bodyweight. If you'd like to make it more challenging, you can add weights.

  1. Stand tall with feet about shoulder-width apart. You can rest your hands on your hips.
  2. Brace your core and take a big step forward with one leg and bend your front knee till your thigh is parallel with the floor. You back leg should be bent, with your shin parallel to the floor.
  3. Extend your front leg to come to standing, taking the back leg up and over into a forward lunge. 
  4. Repeat for however many reps required.

How to do sprinter lunges

Level: Beginners to Intermediate

Equipment needed: No kit required 

  1. Stand with feet shoulder width apart.
  2. Take one leg back into a reverse lunge position.
  3. Drive the back leg to where your front leg is and as soon as your back leg touches the floor, push the other leg into a reverse lunge.
  4. Repeat for however many reps intended.

   

If you’re not sure if any of the above exercises are suitable for you, please consult your doctor before you start it. Need guidance on how to perform the exercise? Ask a personal trainer at your gym.