Fitness for Starters: The Reverse Lunge

By James Rose –

Today, many of us have heard of the lunge exercise. Holding a pair of dumbbells, we take a big step forward, sink down to the ground and then drive ourselves back up. Simple…kinda.


My issue with this movement is how most people don’t perform it correctly. We end up pushing all of our weight onto the leading knee, excessively leaning forward and rounding our lower back. While this unilateral exercise is good for us, performing it this way is a true recipe for disaster.

Instead, I recommend the Reverse Lunge. A similar range of motion is executed, just in the opposite direction. And we’re actually stretching our hip flexors too, those being commonly tight in most people. 

So what exactly is it?

To Perform: Start with both feet together, standing tall and facing forward.

1) Take your left foot back about three feet and press the toes into the ground.
2) Allow the left knee to sink straight down to the ground as you bend the right knee.
3) Ensure the toes stay firmly rooted as you lower your entire body. When the knee is rested on the floor, this is the end position.
4) Now begin to reverse the movement. Simultaneously bring the knee back up, lift the toes off the floor and return to the starting position.
5) Repeat steps on the opposite side

Image courtesy of Coach Mag

Key Consideration: Make sure your front knee doesn’t track past the toes. Imagine there’s a brick wall right along the front toes and the knee can’t push through it. (Hey, maybe even try it in front of a brick wall!)

Too challenging?

It is when you first start it. A lot of people complain about the lack of balance, unable to see where they’re planting their foot. If there’s a lack of balance, it’s mostly due to compensations and muscle overactivity. I tell people to practice them unweighted and in front of a large mirror. Another way to practise them is to use TRX Straps that help support your weight. Just grab the handles, keep the band tension and perform the movement.

Too easy?

That’s good! The first step for progression is to hold a pair of dumbbells in each arm and alternate which legs goes backwards. Hold heavier dumbbells to make it more difficult.

Another, more difficult approach. Yep, this next progression is challenging. Try holding a weight plate overhead! Yep, arms fully extended (avoiding shoulder elevation) and looking straight ahead. Not only are we working the Glutes and Quads as before, but we’re now adding a new layer of core and shoulder stability, making it an excellent full body workout. 

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