Everybody’s eager on boasting about their squat numbers, however many individuals overlook single-leg work. That’s a pity as a result of unilateral workouts — single-arm or single-leg actions — provide distinctive advantages reminiscent of avoiding overusing the dominant facet, isolating and correcting muscle or power imbalances, bettering steadiness, physique consciousness and stopping accidents.

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Lunges are the primary “squatting” sample unilateral train, and as such needs to be a main train in your coaching routine. Lunges are a really adaptable, simple train to program, and they are often carried out a myriad of how. Today we’re looking on the dumbbell reverse lunge, a staple train that each lifter ought to have of their toolbox.

Don’t miss out on lunges, for this primary train has rather a lot to supply. Here’s every little thing you should know concerning the dumbbell reverse lunge.

How To Do The Reverse Lunge

As a unilateral train, the lunge requires extra steadiness and coordination than it’s possible you’ll be used to. Fail to execute the lunge as supposed and, at finest, the motion gained’t be efficient and, at worst, you threat damage. Here’s a step-by-step information to performing the lunge completely.

Step 1 — Find Your Stride Backwards

Person with long hair in empty room performing dumbbell lungeCredit: puhhha / Shutterstock

Grab a pair of dumbbells or kettlebells and stand tall along with your toes collectively. Take a step backwards, conserving nearly all of your weight in your entrance foot. Use the rear foot largely for steadiness, and solely have your toes on the ground.

The size of the step will fluctuate relying in your anatomy in addition to which muscle tissues you hope to focus on. A shorter stride will interact the quadriceps extra, whereas an extended step higher targets the glutes and hamstrings. Establish the stride you need and preserve it the identical throughout repetitions.

Form tip: Find your stride size with out weight at first, as a way to warm-up and reduce damage dangers. Using too slender of a stance, or a stride that’s too lengthy or brief, will trigger steadiness points that may undermine the train’s effectivity. Find what feels comfy for you and follow that.

Step 2 — Sink Down and Graze the Floor With Your Knee

Person holding dumbbells in a lunge positionCredit: LightField Studios / Shutterstock

Brace your core after which bend on the knees whereas conserving most of your weight in your entrance foot. Keep your entrance foot related to the ground; don’t increase your heel.

Let your entrance knee observe over your toes, whereas the rear knee sinks in the direction of the bottom. Graze the ground or contact it very flippantly whereas conserving rigidity in your legs.

Form tip: Always management the eccentric (or down portion of the motion). Rushing it can break muscle rigidity — which is the catalyst for muscle development — and may throw you off steadiness. Also, bumping your knee into the ground hurts. If you might have bother conserving steadiness, attempt to discover a spot on the wall in entrance of you and preserve gazing it.

Step 3 — Drive Through Your Heel

Person performing dumbbell leg exercise in living roomCredit: LightField Studios / Shutterstock

To stand again up, push by means of the ground along with your entrance foot by means of your heel. You ought to really feel your total leg, however primarily your glutes, activate. Stand again to your beginning place to finish a repetition, and repeat steps one by means of three.

Form tip: Your rear leg will contribute to the motion, however guarantee that the entrance one is doing a lot of the work — round two-thirds of your physique weight needs to be on the entrance foot. 

Reverse Lunge Mistakes to Avoid

The off-balance nature of the reverse lunge can throw even essentially the most skilled lifters off-kilter. Here are the most typical reverse lunge errors and easy methods to keep away from them. 

Rushing the Repetitions

When you’re holding a pair of dumbbells and kettlebells, the load is topic to swing and acquire momentum and throw your rhythm out of sync.

Person in gym holding dumbbells in lunge positionCredit: Thanakorn.P / Shutterstock

As there’s a horizontal element with this motion, not controlling the reps will outcome within the weight transferring backwards and forwards, inflicting steadiness issues and extreme decrease again involvement.

Avoid it: Brace your total physique — squeeze your abdomen, flex your lats, and contract your glutes — throughout every repetition. The weight ought to stay in a straight line underneath your shoulders.

Assuming a Narrow Stance 

If your beginning stance is simply too slender, like if you happen to have been to stroll on a line like catwalk fashions, you’ll in all probability lose steadiness and put stress in your hip joint. A wider base supplies extra stability and help.

person in empty gym performing dumbbell lungeCredit: Aleksandr Art / Shutterstock

Avoid it: The very best lunge stance needs to be round shoulder-wide. If you’re somebody with wider hips, you may need to even widen your stance a bit of bit extra to accommodate your pelvic construction.

Pushing With Your Back Leg

The majority of your weight needs to be in your entrance leg. If your again leg finally ends up doing a lot of the work, you’ll put pointless stress on the knee joint and tremendously diminish glute involvement.

Close-up of lower body performing kettlebell leg exerciseCredit: Vladimir Sukhachev / Shutterstock

Because of the non-optimal place of the again leg, pushing with it can lower the loading potential of the train, the athletic advantages of the lunges, and enhance the chance of potential accidents.

Avoid it: You need the again leg to bear among the load of your leg whereas conserving you balanced, however keep away from pushing by means of the ball of your rear foot. Think of the entrance leg because the “working leg,” and the again leg because the “supporting leg.”

Rounding Your Back

Indeed, lunges are a lower-body train, however that doesn’t imply the involvement of the higher physique isn’t essential. It is. Your upper-body is supporting your higher weight, and correct core, again, and shoulder bracing is required if you wish to maximally switch the power from the legs and transfer extra weight.

person in gym doing lunges with rounded shouldersCredit: carlos calixto rayo bravo / Shutterstock

It is especially true in the course of the concentric (rising up) portion of the raise. If you don’t take note of your bracing, you threat hunching over, dropping steadiness, and placing stress in your decrease again, particularly when fatigue units in.

Avoid it: Flex your abs and tense your lat in the course of the motion (consider squeezing one thing underneath your armpits). With heavier weights, it’s possible you’ll take a deep breath earlier than every rep and maintain it till the toughest a part of the concentric is over. This breath will increase intra-abdominal stress to make you extra steady. 

Reverse Lunge Benefits

The lunge is a primary unilateral train that has many advantages for all lifters. But why ought to we embody it right into a program as an alternative of doing another squat or a leg press? Here are three causes.

Unilateral Strength

You’ll be hard-pressed to discover a completely balanced lifter with none weak spot. Skipping unilateral work (working the limbs individually) can create muscular and power discrepancies, since lifters favor one facet greater than the opposite. Always utilizing bilateral workouts may exaggerate these imbalances.

Person performing dumbbell lunges at homeCredit: LL_studio / Shutterstock

The inclusion of unilateral workouts will tackle your weak facet in order that they meet up with the strongest, each in measurement and/or power. Coach’s tip: begin every set with the weaker facet in order that it’s much less fatigued.

Improved Balance and Coordination

This profit is extra related to athletes, however unilateral workouts will vastly enhance your steadiness, coordination, and motor talents.

Most sports activities have their athletes carry out actions on one limb at time, (for example, while you run and alter course) so a unilateral train may have an extra carry over to efficiency and can assist forestall accidents. (1) If you’re a mean Joe with poor motor management, the reverse lunge will allow you to develop steadiness and physique consciousness — that are linked to longevity. (2)

An Easier, More Efficient Lunge

There are some ways to lunge, and the reverse lunge is promoted as one of many simpler variations to carry out — making it a primary selection for people who need hypertrophy. (You can deal with taxing the muscle, not nailing your type.)

This train requires high shelf focus and stability, and it’s simpler to regulate the eccentric and maintain steadiness with a again step moderately than a ahead step. As such, this variation is most popular when weight (power) or muscular rigidity (hypertrophy) are a essential goal, for it’s simpler than the ahead or strolling lunge. (3)

Muscles Worked by the Reverse Lunge

Lunges are primarily a lower-body train, however don’t overlook the scale and power positive factors they assist contribute within the upper-body. Let’s go them in assessment.


The quads are among the many greatest and strongest muscle tissues in the entire physique. Their perform is to increase the knees — straightening them from a bent place. In a lunge, they contribute to rising up from the underside to the standing place.

To focus extra on the quadriceps, take shorter strides and preserve an upright torso.


Thee glutes are closely concerned within the reverse lunge, as they’re liable for a large number of roles within the hip joint. The gluteus maximus (the largest muscle within the physique) is the primary hip extensor — it straightens the leg on the hip.

person holding kettlebells during lunge exerciseCredit: Sergii Gnatiuk / Shutterstock

The gluteus medius and minimus will likely be tremendously concerned within the raise’s stability, as they care for hip steadiness by rotating and flexing it, and contribute to extending it. If you need to hit the glutes more durable, bend a bit ahead and take longer strides to essentially stretch them.


The hamstrings are a sequence of posterior muscle tissues that flex or bend the knees. Their essential function within the lunge will likely be to make sure knee stability and flexion by appearing in synergy with the quadriceps. But if you happen to take lengthy strides and/or bend ahead, they are going to be extra recruited additionally as hip extensors.


Often neglected, this sequence of 5 similar-functioning muscle tissues are key to knee and hip steadiness along side the gluteus medius and minimus. They additionally assist prolong the knee and hips — particularly the adductor magnus, the largest of the 5.

Erector Spinae

Also referred to as the spinal erectors, individuals solely consider them because the “lower back.” But it’s the truth is a posh muscle group that extends all the best way to the cranium. These postural muscle tissues assist preserve the backbone in place and likewise contribute to hip extension (simply earlier than coming again to the preliminary place).


The abs govern your torso actions — flexing ahead, rotating, or bending to both facet. Along along with your erectors, they type the “core” and they’re key to conserving correct posture and transferring power out of your legs to the weights effectively.

Who Should Do the Reverse Lunge

The reverse lunge is an efficient addition to any lifter’s arsenal. From the newbie beginning their lifting journey to the athlete attempting to get higher at their sport.

Sports Athletes

Combining bilateral and unilateral workouts in an athlete’s coaching program could be the optimum manner to enhance efficiency. (4) The addition of unilateral actions to an athlete’s program is much more pertinent after they truly must exert energy one limb at a time of their sport — whether or not it’s working, leaping, tackling, or kicking. The agility and steadiness parts of this train may have good carryover.

Bodybuilders and Aesthetic Enthusiasts

The reverse lunge is a pure selection for individuals desirous to pack on extra measurement. Why not merely do extra squats? Symmetry is of utmost significance to any physique fanatic. As such, together with unilateral workouts in your routine is paramount with the intention to keep away from muscle imbalances and obtain symmetry and aesthetics.

Strength Athletes

Imbalances aren’t simply detrimental to a physique, but additionally to efficiency. Developing power and measurement of the decrease physique muscle tissues is essential to success for aggressive powerlifters, strongmen and strongwomen, and CrossFit athletes. These sports activities require you to carry out squats, deadlifts, and lots of leg workouts that may instantly profit from a unilateral lower-body staple.

How to Program the Reverse Lunge

The reverse lunge, being a unilateral and unstable train, is a little more restricted in its rep schemes as a result of it could be unsafe and fewer environment friendly to program it utilizing very heavy weights for very low repetitions. It shines as a muscle-building train.

Heavy Weight, Moderate Repetitions

Because of the raise’s nature, making it a essential power train and going extraordinarily heavy just isn’t secure. It is finest suited as an help raise carried out after your essential barbell lifts. As such, two to 4 units of 5 to eight repetitions per leg is right if you happen to’re chasing power.

Make certain to regulate the descent and stop momentum, which is amplified when utilizing heavy weights, to cut back the chance of accidents.

Moderate Weight, Moderate-to-High Repetitions

This is the place the lunge thrives. Going a bit lighter for higher-rep units permits the lifter to essentially reap the time underneath rigidity and balance-building advantages of the train. Three to 5 units of 10 to fifteen repetitions per leg will do the trick.

Keep in thoughts that such a very long time underneath rigidity will extremely tax your stabilizing, postural, and gripping muscle tissues, offering a whole-body problem.

Reverse Lunge Variations

As there are a couple of approach to pores and skin a cat, you’ll be able to carry out the reverse lunge utilizing a unique gear and even completely different weight placement to barely modify the train and focus extra on some muscle tissues teams or objectives.

Barbell Reverse Lunge

If the considered transferring heavy weight makes you froth on the mouth, simply skip the dumbbells and use a barbell throughout your higher again. This will make the train extra of a core problem, as a result of the load is instantly supported by your core as an alternative of your shoulders, arms, and grip. A barbell will even let you use extra weight finally.

This is a good variation for constructing power, and it’s particularly helpful while you don’t have dumbbells heavy sufficient or if you wish to give your arms a relaxation with out compromising leg coaching.

Zercher Reverse Lunge

In this variation, created by Ed Zercher, a St. Louis-based weightlifter from the Nineteen Thirties, you maintain a barbell within the criminal of your elbows as an alternative of throughout your again. Not solely will you appear like a badass, however this raise will present your abs, higher again, and biceps an ideal exercise. (5) This is the variation that may problem your higher physique essentially the most.

The distinctive bar placement is especially environment friendly for permitting longer-limbed lifters to remain upright or sink deeper extra simply. It is an effective way to lunge when you’ve got poor mobility. If you need to actually goal the quads, it means that you can undertake a extra upright posture whereas letting the knee observe ahead, which will increase stress on the quad muscle tissues.

Reverse Lunge Alternatives

Perhaps you’re the form of optimist that by no means needs to go backwards, even throughout train. If you don’t really feel like reverse lunging, listed below are some options that may present you related advantages.

Bulgarian Split Squat

If you simply need to present your legs a superb exercise and have bother conserving your steadiness throughout lunges, why not take among the agility parts out of it? This static train, typically referred to as a rear-foot elevated cut up squat, elevates your non-working leg on a bench field, or step. It will nonetheless problem your sense of steadiness, nevertheless it’s comparatively simpler.

Because the steadiness element is lowered, you’ll be capable of use extra weight, which might be helpful in case your purpose is to realize extra power or energy. The cut up squat can be nice for bodybuilders who actually need to emphasize their quadriceps and really feel it burn with out having to fret an excessive amount of about dropping steadiness.


Now let’s do the alternative and make the train more durable. The step-up will check your steadiness and coordination ranges like no different. As such, it’s a useful gizmo for athletes. (6) To carry out it, step on a field, a bench, or a pile of plates, with or with out weights. Drive along with your heel and barely bend ahead.

The larger the step, the more durable the train will likely be. This train additionally targets your glutes considerably, particularly with larger steps. (7) So if you would like a much bigger rear, don’t skip this variation.

Walking Lunge

The strolling lunge is the lunge variation that may demand essentially the most management and coordination, so it’s an ideal match for athletes who need to incorporate a dynamic decrease physique train. It can be an ideal instrument for constructing muscle measurement and endurance due to the very long time underneath rigidity and fixed motion.

Instead of conventional reps, it’s also possible to program this train for complete distance, which is an effective way to construct work capability (endurance or cardiovascular conditioning).

Unilateral Leg Press

This train requires the least steadiness of the bunch, so you’ll be able to solely focus in your muscle tissues. It is a superb train to enhance your mind-muscle connection or go to muscular failure.

Be certain to warm-up correctly. Even although it requires much less total-body steadiness, this train will demand good management and bracing out of your hip muscle tissues in order that your pelvis stays in a steady and secure place.


Should I let my knees journey previous my toes? I’ve heard that may be unhealthy for my joints.

Very few actions are literally “bad for the joints.” The lunge is a pure motion and it merely performs a standard knee perform. It just isn’t inherently harmful, supplied good type and applicable loading is used. Make certain to maintain your knee aligned along with your toes and preserve your shins in a vertical aircraft — don’t allow them to collapse. Use variations with lesser knee angles at first as you develop primary power and mobility.

You shouldn’t be afraid of letting your knees go previous your toes. It is a pure and secure incidence of knee flexion when performing any form of squatting movement. However, the relation between your toes and knees will rely in your purpose.If you need extra quadriceps recruitment, let your knee journey previous a bit extra. If you need to emphasize your glutes, keep away from it. Most importantly, when you’ve got pre-existing knee accidents or if the train is painful, use a variation that gained’t let your knee journey previous your toes.

Can newcomers do reverse lunges?

Of course. Beginners shouldn’t be afraid of this train. The added physique consciousness and agility advantages pays in the long term and carry over to their well being and proficiency in different workouts. Start with body weight lunges and, while you’re assured sufficient, begin incorporating some weight.

Can I make lunges the primary train of my leg exercise?

You can. Some research have truly proven no important distinction by way of power and energy growth between the squat and the lunge. (8) Rotating between unilateral and bilateral workouts as essential lifts, or incorporating each in your routine, is a good technique as a result of they each have their very own advantages.

Bilateral workouts typically let you transfer heavier weights, which may also help to construct power, whereas unilateral workouts tackle total-body coordination and assist to deal with muscular imbalances or asymmetries.

Go in Reverse for Advanced Results

People normally keep away from unilateral workouts as a result of they appear more durable to carry out, however they provide too many benefits to be skipped. So put your finest foot backwards and embody the reverse lunge in your programming if you would like larger, stronger legs. You’ll find yourself being a extra well-rounded, athletic, and balanced lifter.


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