Lunges - More Lunges for the Hips, Glutes and Thighs

Side Lunge

Side Lunge
Paige Waehner

Side lunges are a great way to vary your lunges and put more emphasis on the inner thighs along with the glutes, quads and hips. Side lunges also help you work on balance and stability and are perfect for building strength for sports that involve lateral movement like tennis, racquetball or handball.

  1. Step out to the right, keeping the left leg straight and both feet pointing forward.
  2. As your right foot hits the ground, bend at the hips and push your glutes back as you shift all the weight to your right leg.
  3. Lunge down until the shin is vertical to the floor and the right knee is in line with your toes, both heels flat.
  4. Push into the heel back to starting position and repeat on the other side for 1-3 sets of 10-16 reps.

Form Pointers

Avoid stepping too far out, which can compromise your form and cause you to twist the knee inward. You should step far enough that the shin is straight and the knee is in line with the toes.

Front and Reverse Lunge

Paige Waehner

One way to add variation and intensity to a traditional lunge is to try a front and reverse lunge, all in the same exercise. By lunging forward, you're challenging your front hips, glutes and quads to stop momentum against gravity. Stepping back into a knee lift challenges your balance and moving into a reverse lunge on the same leg will work those muscles differently, making this a great overall lower body exercise. Avoid this exercise if you experience any pain or discomfort.

  1. Begin with feet about hip-distance apart and step forward with the left leg into a lunge. Make sure the knee doesn't go over the toes (although it may go slightly over the ankle).
  2. Concentrate on landing with the knee bent and the weight in the heel.
  3. Push into the front heel to bring the left foot back. Touch the floor if you need to and then lift the left knee up to hip level.
  4. Take the left leg back into a reverse lunge, again keeping the front knee behind the toes.
  5. Push off the left toes to come back to start.
  6. Repeat for 8-16 reps on the same leg (on rep includes both a front and reverse lunge) and switch sides. You can also alternate sides.
  7. Hold onto a wall for balance, if needed. For more intensity, hold weights (as shown).

Lunge with Figure 8

Lunge with Figure 8 Medicine Ball
Paige Waehner

Lunges are an excellent way to target the lower body and adding a figure 8 motion with the medicine ball adds intensity to the exercise and involves the core. The idea is to complete half the figure 8 motion as you lunge forward and finish the motion as you lunge back with the same leg. You'll find this move will really challenge your balance, so take your time and keep the movements slow and controlled.

  1. Step forward with the right leg into a lunge.
  2. At the same time, sweep the medicine ball to the right, down and up in a half circle (half of the figure 8 motion).
  3. Push into the right heel to step back, pause to get your balance and take the right leg back into a lunge.
  4. At the same time, sweep the medicine ball to the left, down and up in a half circle to complete the figure 8 motion.
  5. Continue lunging forward and back while moving the ball in a smooth, figure 8 motion for 8-16 reps.
  6. Repeat on the other side, completing 1-3 sets.

Lunge Sweep with a Kettlebell

Lunge Sweep
Paige Waehner

The lunge sweep with a kettlebell is a great whole body exercise. The lunges target the muscles of the hips, glutes and thighs while the kettlebell swing challenges the arms and core as well as balance, coordination and stability. This advanced move isn't easy, so start with no weight or hold a light medicine ball in both hands the first time around. Watch the floor as you pivot - if you have carpeting, you may need to walk the feet around to shift from side to side.

  1. Begin with feet wider than the hips and hold a kettlebell or weight in the right hand.
  2. Pivot and turn the body to the right so that you're in a split stance and lower into a lunge. Keep the front knee behind the toe.
  3. As you push back up, swing the weight up and over the head as you pivot back to the front.
  4. Switch the kettlebell to the left hand as you pivot to the left, lowering into a lunge and taking the weight down to the floor.
  5. Continue alternating sides while swinging the weight up and over for 1-3 sets of 8-10 reps (1 rep includes lunging to the right and left).
  6. If you're advanced, you can toss the weight to the other hand at the top of the motion. If you're a beginner, you can keep the weight at chest level rather than swinging it overhead.

Around the World Lunges

Around the World Lunge. Paige Waehner

Another way to add challenge and intensity to lunges is with the around the world lunge. With this exercise you're combining a front lunge, a side squat (or a side lunge if you prefer) and a reverse lunge, which will hit every muscle in the hips glutes and thighs. The key is to keep this move slow and controlled and try to use the strength of your legs rather than momentum as you move from one exercise to the next. You can also hold weights for added intensity.

  1. Step forward with the left foot and lower into a lunge, keeping the front knee behind the toe. Lower until the back knee comes close to the floor.
  2. Push into the heel to step back and immediately step out to the left and into a squat.
  3. Press back to start and take the left leg back into a reverse lunge, again keeping the front knee behind the toe.
  4. Bring the left leg back to start and repeat for 8-16 reps before switching sides.

Turning Lunge

Paige Waehner

If you want a dynamic and functional lunge, this turning lunge is a great choice. In this move, you pivot around and lunge diagonally behind you, taking the weights towards the floor and engaging the glutes, quads and even the core. You may even feel your heart rate rising with this move. Just make sure you pivot on the foot as you turn to avoid tweaking the knee.

  1. Begin the move facing forward, holding weights in each hand, if desired.
  2. Turn to the left at a diagonal, pivoting on the right foot while stepping forward with the left foot into a lunge, taking the weights towards the floor. Make sure your abs are engaged to protect the back.
  3. Keep the right leg straight as you lunge and keep the front knee behind the toe.
  4. Push back up, turning so that you face forward again.
  5. Do the same move to the right, this time lunging forward with the right foot and keeping the left leg straight.
  6. Push back to start and repeat, alternating sides, for 1-3 sets of 10-16 reps.

Side to Side Lunge with Medicine Ball

Paige Waehner

The side to side lunge is a great way to warm up and strengthen the glutes, hips and thighs. Adding a medicine ball makes the exercise more intense and forces you to engage the core to keep the body in proper alignment.

  1. Stand with feet wide, toes out at about a 45-degree angle and hold the medicine ball or weight at chest level.
  2. Lunge to the right, bending the knee and taking care to keep the knee behind the toe.  Touch the ball to the floor while keeping the abs engaged and the back flat (don't round the shoulders).
  3. Stand up, bringing the weight to the chest.
  4. Repeat the lunge on the left side.  
  5. Do 1-3 sets of 10-16 reps.  One rep is a lunge to the right and left.


  • Keep your knee in line with your toe as you lunge.  If the knee angles in or out, adjust the angle of your toes.
  • Press through the heel of you foot as you push up from the lunge to engage your glutes.
  • Avoid letting the knee bend over the toe by sitting back into the heel.

Lunges With a Resistance Band

Paige Waehner

If you're traveling, a resistance band makes a great companion, allowing you to add intensity to moves like lunges. By securing the band under your front foot and keeping tension on the band, you can make the move more challenging as you work your lower body. The key here is to either use a heavy resistance band and/or criss-cross the band to add more resistance to the exercise.

  1. Begin in a split stance with one leg forward and the other leg back.
  2. Place the middle of the resistance band under your front foot and criss-cross the band, holding the handles in each hand and curling the arms up until the band feels tight.
  3. Keeping the band tight, bend the knees and lower into a lunge.
  4. Make sure the front knee stays behind the toe and that you go straight down rather than forward.
  5. Press into the front heel to stand up and repeat for 1-3 sets of 10-16 reps on each leg.
  6. You may need to adjust your hands throughout the movement to keep the tension on the band.

Crossover Lunges with Rotation

Paige Waehner

The crossover lunge is perfect for working the entire body in a multiplanar was - which is a fancy way of saying you're moving all over the place and working lots of muscles while you're doing it. Take care with this exercise and avoid it if you have any knee problems. You might start without the rotation and add that in as you get your form down.

  1. Begin with the feet hip distance apart, arms straight out in front of you.
  2. Pick up the right foot and cross it over, stepping towards the left into a lunge.
  3. Pause and look down to make sure your shin is straight and your knee is over the toes.
  4. For added intensity, rotate the torso to the left, taking the arms as far over as you can.
  5. Avoid twisting the knee too much here.
  6. Step back to start and repeat for 1-3 sets of 8-16 reps on each side.

Curtsy Lunge

Paige Waehner

The Curtsy Lunge is yet another variation on the classic lunge that targets the muscles just a bit differently.  With one leg crossed behind you, you'll really feel it in the glute of the front leg.  One thing to look out for:  This move can tweak your knee.  If you feel any pain in your knee, skip this move and try one of the other lunges.

  1. Begin with the feet hip-distance apart.
  2. Take a giant step back with the right foot, crossing it behind your left leg.
  3. Bend the knees into a lunge, as though you're about to perform a 'curtsy.'  (Don't worry, you don't actually have to).
  4. Make sure that you keep your knee in line with your shin and ankle.  Your leg may be bent at an angle here, so pay attention to where you knee is and try to keep it in alignment.
  5. Push into the heel of the front foot to step back to start and repeat for 1-3 sets of 8-16 reps.

Curtsy Lunge with a Dumbbell Swing

Paige Waehner

Curtsy lunges are great for the glutes and you can add even more intensity by adding a dumbbell swing.  The added weight and movement will get the heart rate up, always good for burning more calories, and get the upper body working as well.

  1. Begin with the feet hip-distant apart and hold a moderate to heavy weight in the right hand.
  2. Take a giant step back with the right foot, crossing it behind the left leg into a curtsy lunge.
  3. Watch the position of the front knee and make sure it isn't twisting.
  4. Push into the right heel to come back up and swing the weight to shoulder level while touching down with the right foot.
  5. Repeat for 1-3 sets of 8-16 reps on each side.

Sliding Curtsy Lunge

Paige Waehner

Take your lunges to the next level with this sliding curtsy lunge, which involves three different moves to hit every muscle in your glutes hips and thighs. You'll need a set of paper plates or Gliding Discs for this one and you can always add weights for more intensity.

  1. Begin standing with the toes on paper plates or Gliding Discs.
  2. Shift the weight onto the right foot, keeping the heel grounded on the floor as you bend the knees and slide the left foot back and behind you at a diagonal.
  3. Still keeping the weight on the right foot, stand up and slide the left foot out to the left side.
  4. Carefully pivot on the right foot, turning 180 degrees as you slide the left leg straight back into a straight leg lunge.
  5. Come back to start and repeat for 1-3 sets of 8-16 reps.

Lunge with a Side Reach

Paige Waehner

Add a little spice to traditional lunges with this move, reaching away as you push the hips in the opposite direction.  Not only is there more emphasis on the glute, you'll target balance, stability and core strength.  This one takes some patience and practice, so start without any weight until you get your form down.

  1. Being in a staggered stance, right foot forward and left foot back in a lunge position.
  2. For more intensity, hold a kettlebell or dumbbell in the left hand.
  3. Bend both knees into a lunge and shift the weight into the front foot.
  4. Now, lean the hips to the right as you reach out with the left arm in the opposite direction.
  5. Return to start and repeat for 1-3 sets of 8-16 reps on each side.

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