Lunges: The Ultimate Leg Exercise

Updated on November 27, 2016

The secret to great legs is consistently mixing up your lower-body routine. Lunges make for the perfect exercise because they target the quads, hamstrings, glutes and even the calf muscle. But typically you only see people doing the standard front lunge. Here are several lunge variations that will challenge you, increase your strength and help you get great looking legs.

Split Squat Lunge

The great thing about the split squat lunge is you improve your balance and coordination, all while working on your muscle imbalances since you work one leg at a time. Perform this move by facing away from a bench. Then, put one foot on the top of a bench behind you. Make sure the front leg is far enough out that when you lower down, your front knee does not extend past your toes. Move up and down, like you would in a squat.


- If you find your front knee crossing over your front toes, move the front leg forward more

- Keep your chest pointed up

- Imagine you have a pole going right down the middle of you and you have to move up and down it

- Once you've progressed and feel this is an easy move, hold dumbbells in each hand

Reverse Lunge

Just by simply changing which way you step, you can improve your strength and improve muscle coordination. Instead of stepping forward, you will step directly behind you. Then, lower down into a lunge position. Rise back up and step behind the body with the opposite leg. By stepping back, you target more quad and less hamstring.


- Don't perform this move until you are comfortable with a forward lunge.

- If you feel your balance is not coordinated enough to do this variation without falling, gently hold onto a pole or a wall. Slowly progress to not holding onto anything.

- You will need to move slowly through this move in order to perform in the correct form.

- Hold dumbbells, a weighted ball or a kettlebell once you have progressed.

Raised Lunge

The opposite of a split squat lunge, you will place your front foot on a raised platform, only about four to six inches off the ground. Lower down, keeping the front knee in-line with the ankle and toes pointed forward. By raising the front leg off the ground, your hamstrings will be doing more work than other muscles.


- This variation is a good one to progress to right after the standard front lunge.

- For balance, you can take your arms straight out to the sides and find a focus point to focus on.

- Step back with the back leg to keep proper alignment.

- As you progress, add resistance or take the step higher.

Lateral Lunge

A lateral lunge is a tricky variation because it takes coordination and also takes proper form to do right. Stand straight up with legs together. Then, take a large step to one side with the left leg. Press your glutes out the back wall and lower down into a lunge. You must be careful to keep both feet pointed forward and your knee in-line with your ankle.


- Make sure you have enough leg strength to come back up. This move targets the inner thigh and if you move too quickly, you could injury yourself.

- Always look forward and chest up.

- Keep your weight in your heels to make sure your glutes take the pressure and not your knees.

- As you progress, hold a kettlebell in front of the body.

Lunge Combo Moves

Now that you've conquered the lunge and added variations of lunges to your workout, you want to minimize the time that you spend in the gym. The best way to do this is to combine exercises into one move. You can get creative and experiment with what works best for you but by adding moves together you can improve your stabilizer muscles, increase strength and body coordination.

In lunge combo moves you can try adding a bicep curl to a standard front lunge. You can add shoulder presses to reverse lunges or to front raise with lateral lunge. With each of these combo moves, to start with, perform the lunge first and then hold the lunges while you perform the extra upper-body move. As you get stronger and more coordinated, perform the lunge and upper body move at the same time. My favorite is a split squat with a barbell overhead press. In this move, as you lower down into a lunge, you press a barbell straight up towards the ceiling.

Variety is Key

One of the things I notice the most in gyms, is people are creatures of habit and they come in and do the same thing day after day. Sadly, they come to me and say they're not seeing results anymore. The truth is that they're body has become accustomed to everything they're doing in the gym. Yes, you're still burning calories and yes, you're still making a difference in your health but no, you won't continue to lose weight or build muscle. You have to challenge your muscles in order to continue see improvements. Plus, variety helps keep you motivated and coming back for more.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • Injured lamb profile image

      Injured lamb 

      8 years ago

      Thanks for the variety lunges and tips Julie, it's a great and useful hub. I do lunges quite often before until I have knee problem...though, I would keep your tips in mind and back to those lunges again in a very short time...

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Hi again Julie,

      I do Aikido (martial art) and practise the movements and techniques in my own time as well. Also I do a bit of weapon training with a boken (wooden sword)& jo(wooden staff.)

      Can't say I'm a big fan of running though lol

    • SimpleGiftsofLove profile image


      8 years ago from Colorado

      Good hub, these are important, as a part of overall stability and fitness. Up interesting and useful!

    • jbrock2041 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Park City, UT

      I'm glad you enjoyed this hub Dedmoroz. Holding dumbbells add extra resistance and weight to your body. For example If I'm lunging 150 lbs of body weight and then I hold 15 lb dumbbells in each hand, I now have to lunge 180 lbs of weight, so it just makes it more difficult. Plus, you can then add in other exercises with the dumbbells, such as bicep curls or shoulder presses.

      I haven't done an arm and back yet so thank you for your suggestion and will work on that.

      What type of exercises/activities do you like to do?

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Hi Jbrock,

      Really glad I stumbled upon your hub - I was looking for other variety of leg stretching techniques.

      Although, how does holding a dumbell help? Do they add more pressure on the leg you're stretching when doing a lunge?

      Anyway, once again - awesome hub! I look forward to reading more of your work.

      Could you do an article about arm & back exercises if you haven't done so already? I'd be very interested in reading those.


    • Sottway profile image


      8 years ago from Worldwide

      I believe Lunges are the very best exercises for our legs. They ask our 'little' muscles to do a lot of work - which will improve our balance, co-ordination and proprioceptive abilities - not just our strength!

      Great hub nevertheless!

      Take care

    • musclequest profile image


      8 years ago from Johannesburg,South Africa

      Agreed...haha just a pain in the but hard work


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)