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January 07, 2022 9 min read

The lunge is one staple exercise that is often overlooked for more high-impact choices like the weighted or  bodyweight squats and deadlifts. 

This is mostly because many gym enthusiasts pay more attention to mirror muscles while remaining biassed to all functional muscles. And while lunges remain quite popular, many gym goers often end up doing lunges only when they lean down to tie their shoelaces.

If you're looking for lunge alternatives to light up your leg muscles, we have provided you with the 10 best lunge noob-friendly to gym expert variations below.

But first...

Why Are Lunges So Important?

The lunge is a powerful low-body strengthening exercise that primarily works the entire posterior chain. Not only is it a lower-body exercise that produces aesthetically pleasing results on the glutes and legs, but it is also extremely functional. The lunge is a fundamental position that occurs in our daily routines and even in sports like badminton, fencing, and tennis.

Not surprisingly, the lunge is considered an appropriate  rehab exercise for injured patients and people in need of improved muscle stability.

Lunges are the exception to the rule and prove that leg-day doesn't always have to be high intensity. Lunges activate the ab muscles, back muscles, quads, glutes, hams, calves, and core in what proves to be a full “lower-body” workout. They also engage the knee and hip flexors for increased body stability and better range of motion.

Not only does it engage and exercise all these large muscle groups, it also works its magic on the smaller muscle groups.

The lunge is a splendid exercise for cutting body fat and building a better muscle to fat ratio. It cuts back on fat by increasing your resting metabolism, burning more calories, and building more lean muscles. The lunge not only increases joint mobility but also helps to correct muscle imbalances. Since it is a unilateral exercise that allows movement across various planes, you can train to correct muscle imbalance in each side.

10 Best Lunge Variations (From Easy to Hardest)

Lunges work almost all the muscles in the lower extremities, from the hips and down to the ankles. They are a fitness stepping stone for other fitness and body-building exercises. The lunge builds body stability and muscle endurance across the sagittal, transverse, and frontal planes.

Unlike other exercises that focus on building muscles across one direction of movement, the lunge ensures mobility and flexibility across all directions. The lunge, just like any staple exercise, can be done in different ways to activate different muscles.

Below are 10 lunge variations for a stronger posterior chain.

1. Forward Lunge

Also known as the basic lunge, the forward lunge is anything but basic. The forward lunge exercise is a plyometric leg exercise that acts as the foundation of other lunge variations. Your ability to perform other lunge variations with perfect form depends solely on your forward lunge form.

The forward lunge targets your lower back muscles, calves, quads, hamstrings, and glutes while providing you with a great core workout. Because most of your weight lies on your leading leg, it also teaches your muscles to balance and stabilize your body. 

To do this variation:

  • Stand erect with your back straight, chest proud, and legs hip-width apart. Keep your arms by your side or hands on your hip for more stability.
  • Take one big step forward with your right leg. Aim to go as far out as possible while remaining comfortable.
  • Shift your weight onto your right leg. Engage your core and lower your body until your right knee is at about a 90-degree angle and your thigh is parallel to the floor. 
  • Keep your left knee in the air, nearly grazing the floor. Avoid rounding your back. Hold this position for a second before standing and returning your right leg backward to the starting position.  

    2. Reverse Lunge


      Reverse lunge is one of the easiest, beginner-friendly lunge variations. This is because it is a reversed form of the forward lunge and places less stress on the knees while simultaneously toning out your leg muscles. The reverse lunge puts more body stability on the front leg and is one of the most recommended lunge variations for people with hip or knee injuries.

      To do the reverse lunge:

      • Stand proud with your back straight and shoulders thrown back over the hip. Using your left foot, take a big step backward as far as you can go.
      • Lower your body so your leading right knee is above your ankle and thigh is parallel to the floor. 
      • Hold for a second before standing by digging your right heel into the floor.

        3. Lateral Lunge

          Besides giving your posterior chain a thorough workout, the lateral lunge improves your stability and balance. It is a pleasant change from the usual sagittal plane exercise routines. The lateral lunge works the same muscle groups as the conventional lunge but isolates the outer and inner thigh muscles. Although considered a noob-friendly variation, the lateral lunge is a more difficult option that requires enough body balance and muscle strength. It is not an ideal option for people struggling with lower-body injuries. 

          To do this variation:

          • Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart, shoulders backward, and hands on your hip if needed. Keep your body weight on your heels.
          • Engage your core. Keeping your back straight, take a big step to the side with your right leg and sit back on your hip, keeping your left leg outstretched.
          • Your left leg should be straight while your right thigh is parallel to the floor. Your right knee should be at a 90-degree angle and in line with your ankle. It should look like a squat except your left leg is trailing out straight at your side.
          • Keep your weight on your right heel. Push back on your right heel and return to starting position.

            4. Curtsy Lunge

              This lunge variation activates the same muscle groups as the conventional lunge but also engages the adductors and gluteus medius, which is often bypassed by other lunge variations. Apart from its aesthetic effect in the body, this muscle helps in body stability, biomechanics, and balance. The curtsy lunge is an overall winner for great muscle tone, strength, and coordination.

              To do this variation:

              • Stand with your feet hip-width apart, chest proud, and spine straight. Balancing with your right foot, step backward with your left foot, crossing it behind your right feet.
              • Bring your hands to a clasp in front of you for balance as you lower your right knee until your thigh is parallel to the floor. Keep your spine straight and shoulders thrown back.
              • Pause and stand by pushing your right heel into the floor. Return to a standing position. Repeat for a full set before switching legs.

                5. Walking Lunge


                  The walking lunge is a functional exercise that helps you to increase your range of motion for walking and running. It increases hip flexibility and mobility, thereby improving balance and stability. It is also a key exercise that can help you improve your posture. This variation improves athleticism by activating and strengthening the lower extremities and joints. Paired with the right exercises, the walking lunge can create a splendid HIIT workout routine. Unlike its predecessors, this variation requires a lot of room for movement.

                  To do the walking lunge:

                  • Stand in the usual erect position. Start by stepping forward with your right leg. 
                  • Sit back on your hip, lowering your body until your right thigh is parallel to the floor. Keep your weight on your right heel and your back leg straight out.
                  • Hold this position for a second and take a big step forward with your left leg without changing form. Switch your weight to your left heel and keep your right leg outstretched behind you. This is one rep.
                  • Repeat for as many reps as you can.

                  When done correctly, the walking lunge can also act as a cardio exercise. Keeping your heart rate up is not only healthy but also alters your metabolism. This is great for burning all the extra calories that you don't need.

                    6. Rear Foot Elevated Lunge

                      Also known to many gym enthusiasts and athletes as the Bulgarian lunge, this variation challenges the body balance by elevating the foot above flood level. It is both a stretch and a squat, and so it requires a level of body mobility and leg strength. The rear foot elevated lunge is a great way to sculpt the glutes and thighs. It provides posterior muscle strength and joint mobility.

                      To do the rear foot elevated lunge:

                      • Stand tall with your back to an elevated surface. This could be a step, stacked weighted plates, or a low bench.
                      • Keep your feet hip-width apart and shoulders thrown back. Engage your core and stretch your left foot behind you, placing it on the elevated surface.
                      • Keep your right knee flexed and weight in the heels of your left leg. 
                      • Hold your form and lower yourself. Sit back into your hip until your right thigh is parallel to the floor and your left knee almost grazes the floor.
                      • Keep your back straight and knee in line with your toes. 
                      • Push your right heel into the floor, stand up, and return to starting position.

                        7. Front Foot Elevated Lunge

                          An amazing lower body workout, the front foot elevated lunge is the opposite of the rear foot version. In this variation, your front foot remains elevated while your other foot stretches out behind you towards the floor.

                          To do the front foot elevated lunge:

                          • Stand facing an elevated surface and assume the usual.erect stance.
                          • Place your right foot on the surface, bringing the other leg backward. 
                          • Engage your core and lower yourself to the floor by sitting back on your hip and knee. Your right thigh should be parallel to the floor.
                          • Push yourself back to the upright starting position, keeping the front leg elevated. 

                            8. Slider Lunge


                              The slider lunge is done using a slider/glider, or, if on a budget, a paper plate or towel. This challenging lunge variation packs a major punch on your core and stabilizer muscles while improving your hip flexion and extension. Using a slider forces you to keep your core engaged throughout your exercise. It cranks up the intensity of your posterior chain muscle engagements and provides an intense balance, flexibility, and strength-training lunge routine. 

                              To do the slider lunge:

                              • Stand erect with your feet hip-width apart and chest proud. A slider should rest underneath your left foot.
                              • Brace yourself and slide your left foot straight behind you, lowering your body and sitting back on your hips. Your right knee should be at a 90-degree angle with the floor.
                              • Keeping your bodyweight on your right heel, hold this position for a second.
                              • Returning to the starting position, slide your left foot back to your side.

                                9. Barbell Overhead Walking Lunge

                                  In addition to activating the muscles of your lower extremities, the barbell overhead walking lunge activates the shoulder stabilizer muscles I and other muscle groups in the upper body. This advanced-level lunge variation not only isolates the quadriceps and hams but also activates the core muscles, biceps, upper traps, and lower traps. It is a splendid way to challenge body balance, joint flexibility, and muscle strength.

                                  To do this variation:

                                  • With a weighted barbell in your hands, get into the usual starting lunge position. Stand with your legs shoulder-width apart, chest forward, and spine straight.
                                  • Inhale and engage your core as you lift the barbell overhead. Keep your arms straight and weight distributed between your shoulders.
                                  • Take a big step forward with your right foot into a lunge and exhale. Keep your front knee in line with your toes.
                                  • Bring yourself up to the starting position. Take a big step with your left foot and repeat. This makes one rep.

                                    10. TRX Lunge


                                      The TRX straps crank up the conventional bodyweight lunge. This variation is a great lunge option for circuit training. 

                                      To do the TRX lunge:

                                      • Set the strap to the mid-length or convenient length. 
                                      • Stand erect with your shoulders back and hands at your side. Keeping your elbows at your side, hold the handles of the TRX strap.
                                      • Lean back slightly against it and step back with your right foot. Sit back on your hip and drop your left knee until it almost grazes the floor.
                                      • Return to the starting position and repeat on the other foot.

                                      The Perfect Lunge For You

                                      The lunge is an especially fun exercise, as you can customise your own lunge routine by combining different lunge variations into one fluid movement. This can be seen in variations like the pendulum lunge and glider curtsy lunge. You can also tune up the challenge of lunge variations with the use of resistance bands, kettlebells, dumbbells, barbells, and weighted vests to provide more resistance. With this exercise the possibilities are endless.

                                      The perfect lunge for your bro-split depends on your fitness goals. Since each lunge variation significantly engages some muscle groups more than most, knowing what your fitness plans are would help you choose the right variation for you.

                                      Armed with the top 10 lunge variations and the  BEACH BOD STACK, you’ll be well on your way to a successful leg day.