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8 Lunge Variations to Include in Your Leg Day

A man doing leg lunges in his living room.

If you’re looking to take your leg day to a whole new level, check out these eight lunge variations. They’ll work every possible muscle and make your workouts more challenging.

Adding some variety can prevent you from falling into the trap of skipping a leg day. From the classic lunge to more complex variations, we’ll help you keep it interesting.

The Classic Front Lunge

No leg workout is complete without some sort of lunge. People usually go for the classic front lunge, as it’s challenging even without any additional weight or equipment.

Start from a standing position with your feet hip-width apart. Inhale and step one leg forward, pressing your entire foot to the ground. Bend both knees and lift the heel of your back leg, keeping both thighs parallel.

Make sure your front knee is right over your ankle and not pushing forward (you might need to step forward a bit further). Exhale and push into your front foot, engaging your entire lower body to lift yourself back up. Extend your legs, and then return to the starting position. Repeat with your other leg.

You can make it more challenging by placing a resistance band around your thighs or ankles, or holding dumb- or kettlebells.

The Classic Back Lunge

A back lunge (also called a backward or reverse lunge) follows the same principle as the front version, only instead of stepping forward, you step backward.

This variation is a bit easier to control and doesn’t challenge your balance as much. This makes it easier to add some weights or resistance bands to spice things up.

Once again, make sure your front knee doesn’t extend over your ankle. Push your heel into the ground to really activate those glutes and hamstrings.

The Curtsy Lunge

The curtsy lunge is an amazing exercise that targets your outer hips and thighs like no other. It really makes you go deep, so you can feel your thighs burn.

Start in a standing position with your feet hip-width apart. Inhale and step backward and diagonal from your front foot with one leg, without turning your hips. Stay on the ball of your back foot and use it to push yourself back into the starting position. Repeat on the other side.

Make sure your front knee is always straight over your ankle, and focus on the mind-to-muscle connection as your back leg steps into a diagonal.

You should really feel this one in your outer hip and thigh muscles.

The Side (Lateral) Lunge

Focusing on the outer and inner thighs, as well as your glutes, the side lunge can really work wonders when you include it in your workout. It can also make your leg day more balanced overall.

Start in a standing position with your feet hip-width apart. Inhale and step to the side with one leg, and then bend it, while keeping the other leg extended. Exhale and push into your heel as you extend your leg and return to the starting position. Repeat with the other leg.

You can make this one more challenging by adding weights or resistance bands, but really try to work toward your depth before you do so. It can be really challenging to get your bent thigh parallel, while pushing your hips way back like you’re trying to sit on an imaginary chair.

The Slider Lunge

Introducing a slider into your workout can really burn your inner thighs, as you’ll have to push more than ever to actually move it to your starting position. You can also do the front, back, side, and curtsy slider lunges with a slider, so don’t limit yourself to just one variation.

Your best bet would be to do a combination of all of them to activate all of your tendons and muscles.

If you don’t have a slider, you can simply use a towel or rag to perform the movements.

The Pendulum Lunge

Combining the front and back lunge into one exercise is a great way to work your standing leg and challenge your core to improve balance and stability.

Come to standing position with your feet hip-width apart. Inhale, step forward with one leg, and then bend both legs until you’re in a front lunge. On your exhale, push yourself from your front heel back to standing.

Without dropping your foot to the floor, immediately step backward into a back lunge. Inhale back to standing, and step into a front lunge once again. Continue for your desired amount of reps, and then repeat on the other side.

When your balance is strong enough, you can start adding weights or resistance bands to make that core get tighter and tighter.

Walking Lunges

Walking lunges are perfect if you have enough space to perform them. They really make you work and elevate your heart rate at the same time.

Start in a standing position with your feet hip-width apart. Inhale and step forward with one leg, and then bend it into a lunge. Exhale and push yourself back to standing, bringing your back foot to meet your front.

Inhale and step forward with the other foot, repeating the same movements. Keep walking through your lunges until you reach your goal count.

This lunge variation is extremely challenging for your balance, so make sure you’ve mastered the classic front and back lunges before you attempt it. Definitely do this move for a while before you add any extra weight.

Jumping Lunges

Probably the hardest on the list, jumping lunges require a really strong core, impressive balance, and good stamina. Keeping your upper body as straight as possible is key. Also, focus on opening your chest and tightening your core as much as you can.

Start in a front or back lunge and, as you inhale, jump into the air, replacing your leg position so that your front leg is now the back leg, and vice versa. Exhale into a lunge.

Once again, inhale, jump, replace, exhale. Keep up the tempo, use your breath, and focus on your balance to maintain a proper technique.

These eight lunges are definitely worth implementing in your next leg workout. Ready for a challenge?

Karla Tafra Karla Tafra
Karla is a certified yoga teacher, nutritionist, content creator and an overall wellness coach with over 10 years of international experience in teaching, writing, coaching, and helping others transform their lives. From Croatia to Spain and now, the US, she calls Seattle her new home where she lives and works with her husband. Read Full Bio »
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