How to Do Dumbbell Lunges

Work the butt and thighs with weighted lunges

The lunge is basically a giant step forward. The exercise can be done without weights, with dumbbells held at the sides or at shoulder level, or with a barbell behind the neck on the shoulders. Lunges work the upper leg muscles and the muscles of the buttocks.

Lunges with weights require good balance, so if you have issues keeping your balance, start off by doing the exercise without weights. This will help you learn proper form while also developing your balance for the exercise, which will help prevent injury when adding weights.

Find out more about weight training terminology and exercise description if you need background information before you try this exercise. Print a formatted copy of this exercise. See more dumbbell exercises.

The Starting Position

The starting position
The starting position. PeopleImages/Getty Images
  1. Choose dumbbells of a weight that will enable you to complete the exercise sets you have chosen. Trial and error will be required to settle on a suitable weight. Start with a light weight. As mentioned, if you have difficulty balancing, start with no weights.
  2. Stand up straight with a dumbbell in each hand. Hang arms at the your sides. Palms should face the thighs (hammer grip). Feet should be a little less than shoulder width apart.

The Exercise Movement

The lunge movement.
The lunge movement. Erik Isakson/Getty Images
  1. Take a big step forward with either leg, bending at the knee until the front thigh approaches parallel to the ground. The rear leg is bent at the knee and balanced on the toes. For the leg you step forward with, don't let the knee go past the tip of the toes. This can aggravate the knee joint if done too much.
  2. Step back to your starting position and repeat the motion with the other leg. Alternate legs until the exercise program set is complete.

Points to Note

A lunge without weights.
A lunge without weights. Cultura RM/Chris Cole/Getty Images
  • Although the lunge exercise can be done without weights, a lunge with weights provides additional work for the muscles. For women in particular, this offers a good weight bearing exercise that is so important for bone health.
  • The exercise also can be performed with dumbbells held at the front of the shoulders, or with a barbell on the shoulders, behind the neck. These are more advanced versions.
  • For better balance, don't lift the rear foot too far onto the toes until you get a feel for this exercise. You'll get better as you practice.
  • Remember: Don't move the forward knee past the tips of the toes.
  • This is a good exercise to include in a circuit-training program workout.

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