Lunges are one of the most effective exercises you can do. Not only do squats engage and strengthen lower body muscles, they also get your heart rate up and give you a big old boost of endorphins.
While the forward lunge may not be the most fun move, it is still functional.
That’s where lunge variations come in. If you want to make your workout more interesting, try modifying the basic lunge exercise. This could be the key to getting back into shape.
Refer to this detailed collection of lunges when you need some ideas or motivation.
What are lunges good for?
If you want to improve the strength of your quadriceps, glutes, or calves, lunges are a great exercise for achieving these goals. There’s no excuse not to do them because they’re a functional, multi-joint exercises that can be modified to meet your fitness needs.
What muscles do lunges work?
This exercise targets multiple muscle groups including your hips, glutes, quads, hamstrings, core, and inner thigh muscles.
How many lunges should I do?
To gain more strength, which will be visible in increased muscle tone, you should perform 8-12 repetitions per set. Too easy? Add some weight or slow down the pace. Think slower means easier? Think again. This will lengthen the amount of time your muscles are under strain, making you work harder.
21 lunges and lunge variations to tone and sculpt
Start with no weight if you’re not sure you can execute the exercises properly.
1. Curtsy Lunge
- Take a big step back with your left leg, crossing it behind your right. Keeping your body upright, bend your knees until your right thigh is nearly parallel to the floor.
- Return to the start and repeat. You can alternate legs or stick with one and then swap.
2. Bodyweight Pulse Lunge
- Come into a lunge position with your back knee raised a few inches off the ground and your front knee tracking over your toes.
- Raise up a few inches, keeping your core and leg muscles engaged but not coming up fully.
- Lower back down and repeat the pulse movement.
3. Jump Lunge
- Start with your feet shoulder-width apart, core engaged, and shoulders back. Take a step back with your left leg, with the weight on the ball of your back foot and your front foot flat on the floor.
- Jump up to switch your legs in mid-air – left leg forward and right leg back. Use your arms to help you jump explosively and make sure your chest is lifted, before landing with both knees at 90 degrees. Keep switching legs without your knees moving out of line.
4. Walking Lunge
- Like a normal lunge, take a big step forwards with your right foot in line with your right hip, keeping your knee tracking directly over your right foot.
- Engage your right quad and hamstring by pushing your foot into the floor, then stand up to step forward onto your left foot.
5. Lateral Lunge
- Standing at the top of your mat with your feet together, engage your core and lunge laterally, pushing your bum out behind you and keeping your upper back flat.
- Push through the heel of your lunging foot and repeat.
6. Forward Lunge
- Keep your back straight, engage your core muscles, and place your hands on your hips to stay balanced.
- Take a big step forward with your right foot and bend your knee until your right thigh is parallel to the floor. Allow your back heel to lift, but don’t let the knee touch the floor.
- Step back to the starting position, then repeat on the opposite leg.
7. Reverse Lunge
- Standing with your feet hip-width apart and keeping your back straight, engage your core muscles. Place your hands on your hips to stay balanced.
- Take a big step backward with your right foot and bend your knee until your right thigh is parallel to the floor. Allow your back heel to lift, but don’t let the knee touch the floor.
- Step back to the starting position. You can alternate legs or stick with one and then swap.
8. Kettlebell Curtsy Lunge
- Standing with your feet hip-width apart, holding a kettlebell in both hands.
- Lunge backward, crossing your lunging leg over to the opposite side. You’ll arrive in a deep curtsy position.
- Drive through the heel of your front foot to return to your starting position. Repeat.
9. Kettlebell Forward Lunge
- Stand with feet hip-width apart, holding a kettlebell in both hands. Take a big step back with your left leg, crossing it behind your right. Keeping your body upright, bend your knees until your right thigh is nearly parallel to the floor.