reverse lunge workout leg strength muscle fitness hamstrings glutes

Get strong and impressive legs with the reverse lunge

Wish you had legs that would make even an elite athlete proud? Then you need to add the reverse lunge to your leg day workouts. Why? Because this lower-body move will build strong, defined and impressive legs, as well as start to sculpt rock-hard six-pack abs, to help you transform your body. Here’s everything you need to know about this classic move to get the results you want, says New Body Plan creator Jon Lipsey

What is a reverse lunge?

A reverse lunge is a unilateral (one-sided) legs move. Unlike a conventional lunge you take a step backwards rather than taking a step forwards before returning to the start position.

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What muscles does a reverse lunge work?

The reverse lunge will work all of the major muscle groups in your lower body. That means it targets the glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps and calves. You also get good core activation and it will help to develop proprioception, which is your body’s ability to sense where it is and adjust its position accordingly.

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What’s the difference between a reverse lunge and a normal lunge?

A reverse lunge is a very similar exercise to a normal lunge. The difference is that you get slightly more glute activation with a reverse lunge. It’s also a much bigger test of your balance and coordination. It’s a great variation to add into your workouts so that your body doesn’t get too comfortable doing conventional lunges all the time. Because it is a more difficult variation, it makes sense to master the standard lunge first.

What equipment do I need for a reverse lunge?

You can do a reverse lunge as a bodyweight exercise. That means you don’t need any extra equipment. You can however also do it using other items of exercise kit such as dumbbells, a barbell or a kettlebell. Using dumbbells will give you an extra grip strength challenge. Using a barbell will allow you to lift more weight and is more of an advanced variation.

What are the benefits of doing the reverse lunge?

There are several reasons to include the reverse lunge in your workout programme. They are an effective and efficient lower body exercise because they work so many muscle groups. They will also help you to develop balanced strength because you work one leg at a time. Lunging backwards is a significant coordination and balance test so it’s a great functional exercise too.

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What are the limitations of doing reverse lunges?

This isn’t a limitation as such it’s more something that you should be aware of. A reverse lunge isn’t an exercise where you’re trying to develop your maximum strength. Doing low reps sets with a heavy load invites the risk of injury. Instead, they are better suited to building strength endurance. And they can be used as a finisher exercise to fatigue the target muscle groups.

How many sets and reps should I do?

There’s a lot of flexibility with how many sets and reps you should select. Generally the reverse lunge lends itself to higher rep sets of 10 or more reps. If you’re trying to build up lactic acid and really fatigue your legs you could do very high rep sets. You can also safely perform multiple sets of the exercise.

How should I include the reverse lunge in my workout?

The load and the number of reps you do will dictate where the exercise appears in your session. If you’re using a heavy weight it makes sense to do it relatively early in your workout. If you’re using it more as a finisher exercise you can do it at the end of a session. It’s also a move that lends itself to being paired with another exercise. You could pair it with another legs move such as a squat. You can also pair it with a move that targets a completely different body part such as a dumbbell or barbell shoulder press.

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Dumbbell reverse lunge perfect form

Here’s how to master the move to build stronger legs and rock-hard abs

• Stand tall with your shoulders back and down.
• Keeping your torso upright, take a big stride backwards and simultaneously bend both knees.
• Lower until both knees are bent at 90 degrees and your back knee is a couple of inches off the ground.
• Make sure that your front shin is vertical in the lunge position.
• Push off through your back foot to return to the starting position.
• Repeat the reverse lunge movement on the other side.

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The best reverse lunge variations

Try these twists on the classic exercise to keep your good results coming

Unilateral reverse lunge

Typically you’d do a reverse lunge as an alternating exercise. So you do one rep with your left leg then one rep with your right leg and repeat that pattern. You can however do all of the reps on one side before switching sides. This presents a greater challenge to the working leg and you will fatigue faster. Once you have completed all of your reps on one side, do the same number of reps on the other side. The benefit of doing it this way is that you create more lactic acid build up in the muscle and potentially get more of a fat-loss effect.

Walking reverse lunge

In this variation you don’t push back to the start between reps. Instead, you take a big stride backwards with one leg then you bring the other leg through so that you perform a backwards walking motion. This dynamic variation provides an even greater test of your coordination.

Reverse lunge to forward lunge

In this exercise you first take a big step backwards but when you power back through to the start you keep going and take a big stride forwards. You then return to the start and repeat the move on the other leg. This doesn’t drastically change the way your muscles are working. But it does require you to really think about how you’re moving. So it’s a good option for keeping things fresh and challenging.

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