What are the different types of lunges?

May 10, 2014

Q: My gym has very little equipment for properly working the hamstrings and butt; therefore I have been forced to use only walking lunges holding dumbbells to hit these muscle groups. Lunges have worked great, but I’m getting a little tired of doing the same exercise. Are there any different types of lunges that I can mix into my workout to make things more interesting?

A: Lunges are a great exercise, but don’t limit yourself to walking lunges when there are several options to break the monotony. Here are four of the most overlooked cousins of the traditional lunge that are guaranteed to make your legs feel like Jell-O.

Reverse lunges

Reverse lunges are excellent because they automatically take the pressure off the quads and isolate the hamstrings with little to no practice. It takes a little bit more balance than the traditional lunge, but you should feel it working almost immediately. To get started, stand with a dumbbell in each hand and your feet together, take a long step backward, bending both knees and landing on your toes. When your back knee is about 2 inches off the floor, reverse your motion and return to the starting position. Switch legs and apply the same directions to the opposite side. Continue for a set of eight to 10 with each leg. You can increase the reps as you feel more comfortable with the movement.

Side lunges

Side lunges are rarely seen at the average gym, but they are a very good way to hit the hard-to-reach inner thighs as well as the hamstrings and glutes. To perform a side lunge, stand straight with a dumbbell in each hand.

Step diagonally with your right leg while leaving your left foot in place; be sure to keep both toes pointing forward. Bend both knees until the top of your right thigh is parallel to the floor. Now return to the starting position and repeat the process with the left leg and you will have completed one full rep.

Incline lunges

Incline lunges are a great way to concentrate on the glutes while also working the hamstrings. This movement is basically a forward lunge onto an incline or box. An incline of 6 to 8 inches would be a good start. To do incline lunges, follow the same form as the traditional lunge, stepping forward onto the box with your front leg until your knees are approximately 90 degrees bent, giving your butt and hamstrings an excellent stretch. By lunging onto an incline, you will target the glutes-butt much better than a normal walking lunge.

Stationary lunges

Stationary lunges are perfect for working on balance while targeting a host of lower body muscles. Start by stepping into a lunge with a dumbbell in each hand, lower your body, bending both knees to approximately 90 degrees, then push back up with both legs but don’t lock out at the top or step back to the starting position. Instead, descend again into another lunge and repeat the process until the desired amount of reps is finished. Switch legs and start the process all over again. I suggest starting with six to eight reps at first, as balancing your body will be difficult at first.

As you can see, there’s no need to drop lunges altogether; just incorporate the above lunge variations into your training and add a little excitement and a lot more results to your leg training workout.

  • Chris Antonio is a personal trainer and former world-class weightlifter. He has been lifting for more than 20 years and has trained a wide variety of clients ranging from All-American athletes to the average person trying to get into shape. To send a question to the Ask the Trainer column, email Chris at or check out