If you regularly do reverse lunges or want to start adding them to your routine, this tutorial will give you step-by-step instructions along with key form tips.
When performed properly, reverse lunges can help you build single leg strength, improve your balance, while boosting your cardio. If you add a barbell, or hold heavy dumbbells at your sides, the reverse lunge can become an effective muscle-builder.
Now here’s more information on how to use excellent form so you can stay safe and maximize the effectiveness of the exercise.
Reverse Lunge Instructions
- Stand upright with your feet shoulder width apart while holding a pair of dumbbells, or kettlebells at your sides
- Lunge backward with your right leg as far as you can comfortably while dropping your hips downward.
- Once in the down lunge position, push back to the starting position with both legs at the same time.
- Repeat with the left leg.
- Alternate legs for the desired number of repetitions.
Reverse Lunge Form Tips
- The thigh that is forward should be parallel with the floor at the bottom of the repetition.
- Keep both feet pointed straight ahead and keep the front foot planted firmly so the heel is down on the ground.
- Keep your back straight and head up throughout the movement while maintaining balance
- Your back knee should only be a couple inches from the ground at the bottom of the repetition.
- Breath in as you are lunging down, then out forcefully out as you push yourself back up
3 Common Mistakes
1. Front knee caves in
As you are doing the reverse lunge, it’s imperative that you keep your front knee in line with your toes (your middle toe). A common mistake is for the front knee to cave inward, which has many potential causes, including:
- Weak adductors, or the muscles on your inner thighs which help stabilize your knee
- Weak glutes, which also help stabilize the hips and knee.
- Sneakers that encourage your knee to cave in
- Flat feet
Consciously push your knee more outward, which helps your knee track your toes.
2. Hunching Over
Another common form mistake is to hunch your upper body forward as you complete the lunge. Instead, keep your shoulders back, upper body erect, and head up as you are completing the lunge.
You will feel a stretch on the front of your hip and thighs when you keep your upper body straight and erect. This is normal and expected.
Oftentimes, where your eyes go, your body goes. Look forward where you are stepping, but keep your head up as to avoid hunching over.
3. Leaning Side to Side
If you are holding dumbbells at your sides, or just doing a bodyweight lunge, it can be difficult to maintain your balance.
What may happen is that your torso may sway from side to side. There are several possible causes, including:
- Footwear makes it difficult to balance (try no shoes / sneakers)
- Lack of core activation and control (your abs should be engaged to prevent swaying)
Please note that if your front knee sticks too far out over your toes, it may put pressure on your front knee. But this is highly individual, meaning that someone who is tall for example must have his or her knee stick beyond the toes. The key is to feel the exercise in your front thighs and glute muscles while having the pressure even across the front of your foot (you’re not leaning too far forward or backward).
Forward vs. Reverse Lunge: What’s The Difference?
The obvious difference is that with reverse lunges, instead of lunging forward, you are lunging backwards.
So why is this so different? There are a few reasons:
- Maintaining balance is more challenging with the reverse lunge because you are reaching your back foot behind you so you can’t see where it lands.
- When done properly, the reverse lunge is a very smooth motion that stimulates the muscles on the front of the leg to a larger degree than the forward lunge.
- Reverse lunges are less plyometric. So aside from balancing, reverse lunges are easier than forward lunges and you can typically hold more weight.
If you add reverse lunges to your routine, please be careful that you are maintaining your balance and staying upright. That’s really the key.
I hope you enjoyed this tutorial on reverse lunges!