You would instinctively move your lower body forward (forward lunge) and not backward when you think of Lunges. Just hearing the word lunge gives you the urge to move one leg forward! While forward lunges are an excellent workout to increase single-leg strength, forgetting about reverse lunges can result in an imbalance training program! 

So, if you plan to include reverse lunges into your following leg day routine, here’s a definitive guide to help you out! 

This Ultimate Guide Will Cover:

  • How to do Reverse Lunges
  • Reverse Lunges Benefits
  • Common Reverse Lunge Mistakes To Avoid
  • Reverse Lunge Muscles Worked
  • Reverse Lunges vs. Forward Lunges
  • Our Trainer’s Suggested Reps, Sets, and Programs
  • Reverse Lunge Variations
  • Reverse Lunge Alternative Exercises

How to do Reverse Lunges

What You’ll Need:

Performing basic reverse lunges will not require any equipment as it’s a bodyweight exercise. Once you perfect the form and you get comfortable with the movement, you can start adding weights or resistance to your lunges to challenge yourself.

Weighted reverse lunges effectively activate and strengthen the core, glutes, and hamstrings. This is especially helpful for athletes who are training to strengthen their quads and posterior muscles. You can start with a lightweight of 3-6 pounds to get used to the motion and gradually build up.

  • Pair of Dumbbells
  • Kettlebell
  • Barbell
  • Suspension bands – You can loop the band around your forward foot, behind your shoulders, and around in front of your neck. Maintain a straight torso as you lunge.

Step 1: Get into the Starting Position

Stand with your feet hip-width apart and do a slight bend on your knees. Keep your shoulders directly over your hips with a neutral neck and head position. Your chin must remain tucked. 

Evenly disperse your weight and grip the floor with your feet to have a stable position. Then, put your hands on your hips, pre-tension your hips and shoulders, and keep your core engaged. This is your starting position.

Step 2: Step Back and Bend

While keeping a neutral spine, move a step back and bend your knees, hips, and ankle. Bring your hips down towards the ground until your back knee (left knee)  is about an inch or two from the floor.

Step 3: Keep a Neutral Front Foot and Distribute Your Weight 

Your front foot (right foot) needs to be neutral, with your weight distributed evenly along your entire foot. Your front knee should be right above your big toe. Your rear hip must be over your back knee, with the ball of your left foot on the floor and heel raised.

Step 4: Lower and Hold

As you reach the bottom of the lunge, your legs must be at 90 degrees and your pelvis in a neutral position. Pause for a moment at the bottom.

Step 5: Lift Up and Return

To start the upward movement, keep your chest high, and push your entire foot onto the floor, utilizing your quads and glutes to propel yourself back to an upright stance. Emphasize pushing through your heel and midfoot while engaging your toes. Then, return to the starting position.

Step 6: Complete the Movement and Repeat

Both your legs must finish next to each other as you go back to the starting position. Your shoulder must finish over your hips at the end of each rep. You can repeat on the same side or alternate each leg as you complete your desired number of reps.

3 Reverse Lunges Benefits

1. Boost Strenght and Endurance

Even with your bodyweight along, reverse lunges can enhance your muscular strength. This workout activates various muscles in your lower body, including your hamstrings, quads, glutes, calves, and core. Either add dumbbells to increase your strength or do high reps to improve endurance.

2. Enhance Flexibility

If you sit on your desk all day, doing reverse lunges will help you dynamically stretch your quadriceps muscles and hip flexors. Constant sitting can shorten and weaken the muscles on the front of your legs and hips. If you don’t address this, you may experience back pain, discomfort, and injury.

3. Develop Balance

Performing reverse lunges for the first time may get you all wobbly. Don’t worry. It’s a normal occurrence since this exercise requires a decent amount of balance. The reverse lunge requires stability in your core muscles and all your working joints. So, once you get the hang of it, you’ll be able to improve your overall balance!

Common Reverse Lunge Mistakes To Avoid

Pushing with the back leg

It’s counter-intuitive when you move the leg that is not supposed to be the working leg. If you push yourself off using your back leg, you may have some knee issues, and the workout’s effectiveness will decrease. This will give you the wrong idea that the exercise has a totally different intention.

Slamming your back knee on the ground

Doing this will hurt you for no reason. From the training perspective, once you slam your knees on the ground, it means that you have no control over your movement. Without control, there’s no tension, and there’s no muscle growth without tension. 

Forward knee collapsing

As you step back, your front knee must remain parallel with your second toe. You want to prevent your knee from falling towards the inside. Most lower body exercises would have this as a golden rule, but it’s especially imposed with single-leg workouts. When your knees move inside your toes, it puts unnecessary strain on your joints, leading to pain.

Reverse Lunges Muscles Worked

The reverse lunge targets a handful of muscles in your lower body, such as:

  • Quadriceps 
  • Gluteus Maximus
  • Hamstrings
  • Adductors
  • Calves

Although reverse lunges can give your core a good burn, it’s primarily a lower-body strengthening workout that activates your glutes and quadriceps. It also engages other muscles below your waist, making it an excellent exercise to include in your fitness program.

Reverse Lunges vs Forward Lunges

The reverse lunge and forward lunge may look the same, but they differ in a few ways. When you lunge forward, you activate your front leg, and when you lunge backward, you engage your back leg. 

In addition, although these two lunges target many of the same muscle groups, their priorities are different. Forwards lunges target your quadriceps, while reverse lunges emphasize your glutes and hamstring.

Furthermore, executing reverse lunges will lessen the strain on your knees, making them less difficult for your lower body than a forward lunge. Begin your workout with reverse lunges as a warm-up before proceeding with performing a full forward lunge.

Our Trainer’s Suggested Reps, Set, and Programs:

For Muscle Gains

In your exercise program for muscle growth, you should perform reverse lunges in moderate to high reps with a moderate to the high amount of weight. 

Do three to five sets of six to twelve reps with moderate to heavy loads or two to four sets of twelve to fifteen reps with moderate load to almost failure. Have your resting periods between forty-five to ninety-second.

For Muscle Endurance

You can use reverse lunges to help with your lower body stamina and endurance. Perform two to four sets of fifteen to twenty reps with light to moderate loads. Your resting periods should be under thirty to forty-five seconds.

To Improve Strength

Although reverse lunges are usually not performed with heavy to maximum weight, lifters can do moderate to heavy loading to increase their unilateral strength. When doing this workout idea, ensure that you remain in control throughout the motion. Get a spotter or set yourself up within a squat rack if the weight is too heavy. Never overload this exercise.

So to improve your lower body straight, perform three to five sets of four to six reps using moderate to heavy weights and resting as necessary.

Reverse Lunge Variations

If you’re getting used to the burn of reverse lunges, it’s time to step it up a notch with these variations! You can do the exercises listed below to enhance your unilateral leg strength, make the movement pattern more challenging, target the major muscle groups in your lower body and enhance its overall performance!

Front Race Reverse Lunge

You can do this variation using a kettlebell, dumbbell, or barbell. All you need to do is position the load on the front of your body. When you assume the front rack stance, you challenge your core stability and force yourself to stay up through the motion. 

Because of this, you need to coordinate and control the reverse lunge without permitting your chest to fall in the movement, activating your glutes and quadriceps.

Crossover Reverse Lunge

In this variation, you’ll step backward and slightly behind your body diagonally. You must control the amount of knee valgus (knees buckling) that tests hip stability as you do this. It’s an excellent workout for lateral stability and engaging the glutes.

Front Foot Elevated Reverse Lunge

When you elevate your forward foot, you can increase the amount of knee flexion in the front leg while performing the reverse lunge. When you step back to a deficit, you must maintain your torso upright in deeper knee flexion to help increase the activation in your quadriceps.

Reverse Lunge Alternatives

For more workout ideas and to diversify your training program, you can use these reverse lunge alternatives to help develop your unilateral stability, leg strength, and lower body performance.

Bulgarian Split Squat

Bulgarian Split Squat is a unilateral workout that can enhance leg strength and hypertrophy and boost squat performance. You execute this by placing your back leg on a supportive surface or a bench and going down into a lunge, activating your glutes, hamstrings, and quadriceps. Make sure to do this in proper form to avoid injuries.

TRX/Suspension Lunge

The split squat using a suspension band will make the movement more challenging, forcing you to increase your stability, boost motor unit control, and increase isometric and eccentric coordination and strength. You need to place your back leg in the stirrup and slowly go down into a lunge, putting most of the stress on your front leg. 

Walking Lunge

Walking lunges engage many of the same muscle groups as the reverse lunge. It also requires greater coordination and control. Although, unlike the reverse lunge, walking lunges are dynamic, that’s why it requires greater balance, control, and stability. 

If you’re new to working out, you may struggle with walking lunges, so it’s better to stick with the other two alternatives until you master them.

Frequently Asked Questions

Lunging has the same benefits and risks as deep squatting if you have knee osteoarthritis. While performing lunges will help improve your hip strength and overall leg, it can also cause unnecessary pain when done wrong. Don’t let your right knee past your ankle if you’re moving your right leg back. The same goes for the alternate legs.

Its primary targets are the glutes and quadriceps. However, it also engages other muscles below your waist.

None of them is better than the other because you need both exercises to achieve well-balanced and properly shaped legs. Also, they specialize in different muscle groups, so it’s a must to include them both in your fitness routine.

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