12 Great Lunges for the Hips, Glutes and Thighs

1
Static Lunges

Static lunges are great for working all the major muscles of the hips, glutes and thighs. In this version of lunges, you're simply dropping your knee down rather than stepping forward or back. For beginners, you can try this move while holding onto a chair or wall for balance. Do it right:

  1. Stand with right foot forward, left foot back about 3 feet apart.
  2. Hold weights in each hand if desired and bend the knees to lower the body towards the floor. Keep the front knee behind the toes and be sure to lower straight down rather than forward.
  3. Keep the torso straight and abs in as you push through the front heel and back to starting position.
  4. Don't lock the knees at the top of the movement.

 

Next Exercise:  Assisted Lunges

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Assisted Lunges

Like static lunges, assisted lunges work all the muscles of the hips, glutes and thighs. This version is just like a static lunge, except you're using a chair or wall for balance. This is a great way for beginners to practice lunges without losing their balance. Do it right:

  1. Stand with right foot forward, left foot back about 3 feet apart.
  2. Hold onto a chair or wall for balance.
  3. Bend the knees and lower them towards the floor until the back knee is a few inches from the floor and the front knee is at a right angle. Keep the front knee behind the toes and be sure to lower straight down rather than forward.
  4. Keep the torso straight and abs in as you push through the front heel and back to starting position.
  5. Perform 1-3 sets of 8-16 reps.

Next Exercise:  Sliding Rear Lunges

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Sliding Lunges

This sliding lunge is a new twist on a standard exercise, involving the muscles of the hips, glutes and thighs in different ways. You can do this exercise using a paper plate or Gliding Discs.

  1. Stand with feet hip-width apart, the ball of the left foot resting on the paper plate or Gliding Disc.
  2. Bend the right leg while sliding the left foot backwards into a lunge position.
  3. Keep the front knee behind the toe and keep the back leg slightly bent.
  4. Slowly slide the left foot back to start, pushing into the plate and repeat for 8-16 reps before switching sides.
  5. Keep the weight in the front leg so you always have control of the foot resting on the plate.

Next Exercise:  Sliding Side Lunges

4
Sliding Side Lunges

Sliding Side Lunges are just another variation of traditional lunges. By placing your foot on a paper plate or Gliding Disc, you can target the inner thigh of the sliding leg while working the hips and thighs of the lunging leg.

  1. Stand with feet hip-width apart and place the ball of the left foot on a plate or glider.
  2. Bend the right knee, sitting back into the heel as you slide the left foot out to the side.
  3. Keep the right knee behind the toe, the torso upright and abs in.
  4. Press into the plate to contract the inner thigh and slide the left foot back.
  5. Repeat for 1-3 sets of 8-16 reps and then switch legs.

Next Exercise:  Split Squats

5
Split Squats

Split squats are another way to vary traditional lunges. In this exercise, you elevate the back foot onto a step or platform which places more emphasis on the front leg and adds a balance challenge, which makes this exercise pretty tough.

  1. Stand about 3 or so feet in front of a step or platform and place the left leg on the platform, either resting on the toe or the top of the foot.
  2. Make sure your feet are wide enough that the front knee stays behind the toe when you lunge down.
  3. When you have your balance, bend both knees and lower down into a lunge.
  4. Push through the front heel to stand up and repeat for 10-16 reps before switching sides.
  5. Hold weights for added intensity.

Form pointers:

  • Only go down as low as you comfortably can. This move does require flexibility in the hip flexors...if you feel tight in the front of the hips, stick with regular lunges.
  • Make sure the front knee does not go beyond the toe or your risk hurting the knee joint.

Next Exercise:  Low Lunges

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Low Lunge

The low lunge is an interesting variation on the traditional lunge. With the feet closer together, the knees may feel less strain, but the shorter range of motion really adds intensity. This is a great alternative to lunges or a great addition to your lower body program.

  1. Stand in a split stance with feet close together (about two feet apart, one foot forward, one foot back).
  2. Hold weights in each hand and bend the knees, taking the weight towards the floor. This is the start of the movement.
  3. Keeping the abs engaged and the shoulders back, push into the front heel and lift up about halfway.
  4. Lower back down and repeat for 1-3 sets of 10-16 reps.

Form pointers:

  • This is a small movement. Start at the bottom and go about halfway up rather than standing all the way up.
  • Keep the torso bent forward throughout the movement, but make sure the back is flat and the abs are engaged.
  • Keep the front foot flat and stay on the toes of the back foot.

Next Exercise:  Lunge Deadlifts

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Lunge Deadlift

Paige Waehner

This combination of a lunge and a deadlift is a great way to work every muscle in the lower body, including the glutes, quads and hamstrings. This advanced move will also challenge your core, balance and stability, so you'll want to practice this move and concentrate on what you're doing to get the most out of it.

  1. Get into a lunge position with the back foot resting on a step or platform. Make sure the front leg is far enough forward that the knee stays behind the toe as you lunge.
  2. Hold light-medium weights in both hands if desired.
  3. Bend the knees and lunge down while simultaneously lowering the torso towards the front thigh and bringing the weights down towards the floor.
  4. Keeping the torso down with the abs engaged, straighten the front knee as in a deadlift.
  5. Bend the knee and push back up, straightening the torso.
  6. Repeat for 8-10 reps on each leg, completing 1-3 sets.

Next Exercise:  One Legged Lunge with a DB Reach

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One-Legged Lunge With a Reach

Paige Waehner

Compound movements not only recruit more muscle fibers, which saves time, but also help you work on balance and stability while building strength and endurance. This one-legged lunge is a great example of that and one way to involve the entire body in one exercise. This is an advanced move, but you can modify by doing the move without the ball.

  1. Place the left foot/shin on the ball and hold a medium-light weight in your right hand.
  2. Bend the right knee into a lunge as you roll the ball out with your left leg until it's straight and the front knee is bent to about 90 degrees (knee behind the toe).
  3. At the same time, reach the weight out, keeping the abs engaged.
  4. Squeeze the right leg to roll the ball back to starting position.
  5. Repeat for 10-16 reps before switching sides.

Tips

  • Try this move without the weight first if you feel wobbly.
  • This exercise requires balance, so you might stand near a wall so you can hold on if you need to.

Next Exercise:  Barbell Lunges

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Barbell Lunge

Paige Waehner

If you want to add intensity to your lunges, as if they aren't intense enough, using a barbell is one way to go. A barbell distributes the weight more evenly across your shoulders so you can lift heavier than you may be able to with dumbbells. To keep this move safe, only use a weight you can lift or have a spotter nearby.

  1. Place a medium-heavy barbell on the meaty part of your shoulders (use a bar pad if you need to) and take the right foot forward, left foot back in a split stance.
  2. Keeping the torso upright and abs engaged, bend the knees to lower the body towards the floor. Keep the front knee behind the toes and be sure to lower straight down rather than forward.
  3. Lower down as far as you can go without touching the back knee to the floor.
  4. Push into the front heel to stand back up, avoiding locking the knees at the top of the movement.
  5. Perform 1-3 sets of 8-16 reps.

Next Exercise:  Sliding Side Lunge with Weights

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Sliding Side Lunge with Weights

Paige Waehner

This advanced exercise targets the glutes, hips, thighs and core all at the same time. By using a paper plate and sliding one leg in an out, you add intensity to the traditional side lunge. Taking the weight toward the floor engages the core, making this a dynamic exercise that will really challenge you.

  1. Put a paper plate under the left foot and hold a weight (I used a 10 lb kettlebell) in the left hand.
  2. Keep the weight in the right leg and bend the knee as you slide the left foot out to the side, keeping the leg straight.
  3. As you squat toward the floor, keeping the knee behind the toes, take the weight down and touch the floor.
  4. Squat as low as you can and keep the back flat, abs engaged.
  5. Push back up, sliding the left foot in as you stand.
  6. Repeat for 8-15 reps and then switch sides, completing 1-3 sets.

Next Exercise:  Side Lunge with a Kettlebell Lift

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Side Lunge with Kettlebell Lift

sidelungekblift.jpg
Paige Waehner

Adding a kettlebell lift to a traditional side lunge is a great way to add intensity and depth to your workout.  Just make sure you send the hips back and keep the abs engaged to protect the lower back.  You can substitute a dumbbell here if you don't have a kettlebell.

  1. Begin in a wide stance holding a kettlebell or weight in both hands.
  2. Lunge to the right, keeping the left leg straight, shifting the hips over the right foot.
  3. Make sure to send the hips back to engage the glutes.
  4. At the same time, lift the weight straight up to shoulder level.
  5. Lower the weight, go back to start and repeat to the other side.
  6. Repeat for 1-3 sets of 8-16 reps.

Next Exercise:  Split Squat with Rotation

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Split Squat with Rotation

Paige Waehner

One way to really challenge your glutes, and your core, is with this elevated split squat with an added rotation in the opposite direction.  This is shown using a BOSU, which is even more advanced, so try this on a more stable platform for practice before trying this version.

  1. Stand about 3 or so feet in front of a BOSU or step and place the right foot on top, resting on the toe.
  2. Pause to get your balance and take the arms out to the sides as you bend the knees into a lunge.
  3. As you lunge, rotate the torso, bringing the right hand towards the left foot and the left arm straight up overhead.
  4. Rotate back to start and stand up, repeating for 1-3 sets of 8-16 reps.
  5. As you practice, try to do the entire movement in one smooth motion.

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