The Best Lunge You’re Not Doing

I like lunges.

Not in a “I’m really enjoying myself” kind of way. Because who likes doing lunges? A root canal might be more fun. Or maybe listening to hours of Nickleback.

Just kidding, that’s way worse.

But from a benefit standpoint, I really like them a lot. Single leg work is really important for just about everyone, and it can do so many good things for the body. Not to mention lunges are pretty great for making your legs and butt nice and firm.

However, both forward lunges and walking lunges can be pretty problematic for people with any kind of knee issues.

They can make the ouchies get ouchier.

Both forward and walking lunges require deceleration at the knee joint. When you step forward into a lunge your knee joint acts as a shock absorber when your foot hits the ground. That’s when things can get cranky for some people.

Image result for knee pain

This is where the Reverse Lunge can be very beneficial.

The Reverse Lunge is a common player in the programs I write for my clients. There’s a really good chance that if a client isn’t doing them in their current program, they’ll be doing them in their next one.

Reverse Lunges take care of the deceleration problem by stepping backwards instead of forwards. As you’ll see in the video below, instead of the front leg stepping forward, it stays static. This puts the knee joint in a much more stable position, and can take the issue of knee pain with lunges away completely for most people.

Beyond the science-y stuff, Reverse Lunges hit the hamstrings and butt more than forward or walking lunges do, which means they give the legs a better all around workout.

I use them for everyone, not just those with knee pain.

Let’s take a look at how to do them.

Reverse Lunges

I’m using dumbbells here, but I would suggest starting with body weight.


  • Keep your chest high, and avoid letting your torso lean forward.
  • Step backwards, and bend your front knee to a comfortable depth.
  • Keep your front shin vertical.
  • Think of your hips sitting back and down.
  • Drive through the ball and heel of the front foot on the way up. This is a single leg exercise, so keep most of the work in the front leg.
  • Avoid launching yourself forward through your back foot.
  • Squeeze that booty tight at the top.

I typically have clients do these in the 6-10 rep range. But they can definitely be programmed at lower reps for strength, or higher reps if you want to be miserable.

Give them a shot and let me know what you think!

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