How To Do An Effective Lunge Workout At Home (Step By Step Guide)

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Last Updated: 11th October 2016

If you want that booty, you gotta put in the work!

It's a well-documented fact (on Instagram, at least) that lower body workouts are the BEST to give you that gorgeously round, sculpted butt that's all the rage these days. For all the lower body workouts, there are two exercises that rule the roost:

  • Squats
  • Lunges

Squats engage the quads (thighs) most effectively, but they also hit the hamstrings, glutes, and core muscles. For sheer power and strength, squats are probably the best exercise for your legs.

Lunges, on the other hand, engage the quads, hamstrings, and glutes very effectively, with a bit of core work thrown in. They're definitely good for building lower body power, but they're also awesome for improving definition and shape (rounding) of your legs and butt. If your goal is to train for a rockin' booty, you'll want to add PLENTY of lunges into your lower body training sessions. Or, better yet, make your workout all about lunges, adding variations that will hit your legs and butt from every angle.

How to Do the Perfect Bodyweight Lunge

Bodyweight Lunges are the best entry-level lower body workout. They're easy to do without weights, and you can focus on maintaining proper form through the entire exercise. If you're new to leg training, you definitely want to start off with just your bodyweight.

Here is what you need to do to perform the perfect Bodyweight Lunge:

  • Step 1: Keep your head up, your shoulders back, your back straight, and your chin parallel to the floor.
  • Step 2: Step forward, spreading your weight between your fore and back foot.
  • Step 3: Your back heel will come off the ground, but don't let the knee of your foreleg pass your ankle. The ankle and knee should be aligned.
  • Step 4: Your back knee will bend until your shoulders and hips are aligned, forming a straight line from shoulder to knee.
  • Step 5: Make sure NOT to lean forward, but keep your spine at the neutral position, chin parallel to the floor, and your head up. Clench your core muscles to keep your upper body straight.

If you're doing Regular Lunges, you'll push off your forefoot to come back to your original position. If you're doing Walking Lunges, you'll push off your back foot to step forward.

How can you tell if you're doing the Lunges wrong?

  • You're leaning forward. Your shoulders, core, and hips should all be aligned, and as straight as possible. If you lean forward, you place all the strain on your lower back.
  • Your knees aren't bent properly. You should always be able to see the toes of your forefoot. If your front knee is too far forward, the strain is placed on the knee joint rather than the leg muscles. The back knee should also be aligned with your shoulders and hips.
  • You're slouching. This will cause you to lean forward, increasing the risk of lower back strain. Keep your shoulders back, head up, and back straight as you step forward into the Lunge.

Lunges are surprisingly challenging at first. The posture will feel unnatural at first as your body will want to lean forward. DON'T let it! Take it slow and easy at first, and make sure to get that posture just right.

How to Do the Perfect Weighted Lunge

Once you've mastered the Bodyweight Lunge, it's time to add a bit of weight. Weighted Lunges use a barbell or dumbbells to make the exercise more difficult, increasing the strain on your muscles. This is when it's VERY important to keep your form correct, as the added weight increases the risk of lower back strain.

Here is what you need to do to perform the perfect Bodyweight Lunge:

  • Step 1: Keep your head up, your shoulders back, your back straight, and your chin parallel to the floor. Rest the barbell on the back of your neck and shoulders, using a cloth or foam pad to protect your neck. If you're using dumbbells, let them hang down by your side.
  • Step 2: Step forward, spreading your weight between your fore and back foot.
  • Step 3: Your back heel will come off the ground, but don't let the knee of your foreleg pass your ankle. The ankle and knee should be aligned.
  • Step 4: Your back knee will bend until your shoulders and hips are aligned, forming a straight line from shoulder to knee.
  • Step 5: Make sure NOT to lean forward, but keep your spine at the neutral position, chin parallel to the floor, and your head up. Clench your core muscles to keep your upper body straight.
  • Step 6: Working with dumbbells, make sure to keep the weights beside your hips. The temptation will be to swing them forward as you step in and out of the Lunge, but don't move them! Keep them by your side, and it will keep the strain focused on your legs.

If you're doing Regular Lunges, you'll push off your forefoot to come back to your original position. If you're doing Walking Lunges, you'll push off your back foot to step forward.

How can you tell if you're doing the Weighted Lunges wrong?

  • You're leaning forward. Your shoulders, core, and hips should all be aligned, and as straight as possible. If you lean forward, you place all the strain on your lower back. With the added weight of the barbell resting on your shoulders or the dumbbells in your hands, you increase your risk of lower back injury DRASTICALLY!
  • Your knees aren't bent properly. You should always be able to see the toes of your forefoot. If your front knee is too far forward, the strain is placed on the knee joint rather than the leg muscles. The back knee should also be aligned with your shoulders and hips.
  • You're slouching. This will cause you to lean forward, increasing the risk of lower back strain. Keep your shoulders back, head up, and back straight as you step forward into the Lunge.
  • Your head is thrust forward. The weight is resting behind your neck so there will be the temptation to bend your neck and thrust your head forward. This is NOT a good idea, as it will increase your risk of bending or slouching. You have to keep your head straight, even if it means you have to support more of the weight with your arms.

Weighted Lunges are a bit more challenging, but they're so worth it! Once you add weights, that's when you start to see the awesome gains in your lower body strength.

Lunge Variations to Add to Your Workout

Once you've mastered the basic Lunge (Bodyweight and Weighted), it's time to kick things up a notch! The following exercises will add spice and variety to Leg Day and work your lower body muscles (glutes, hamstrings, and quads) from all sorts of awesome angles:

Walking Lunge -- The Forward Lunge is the most common variation of the movement, but this one combines the Lunge with forward motion.

You push off your rear foot to step forward, increasing the contractions of your glutes and hamstrings.

Watch this video to see how it's done…

Lateral Lunge -- The Lateral Lunge, or Side Lunge, is excellent for working your hip muscles (adductors and abductors) along with your quads, hamstrings, and glutes. It will give your leg muscles "width", helping to round out your butt nicely.

To perform the exercise, start in your original Lunge position (feet spread shoulder width apart). Take a step to the left, and bend your knee until your upper leg is parallel with the ground. You'll have to rock your hips back to do it right, thereby increasing hip mobility. Keep your right leg straight, and don't let either of your heels come off the floor. Push back up to return to your original position, and repeat with the right leg.

Watch this video to see how it's done…

Reverse Lunge -- This movement is a bit easier than the Forward Lunge, especially for those who have limited joint mobility in their hips and knees. It's also good for people who don't have well-developed leg muscles.

To perform the exercise, start in your original Lunge position. Take a step backward, land on the ball of your foot, and lower into the Lunge. Your rear knee will still need to form that 90-degree angle, aligning with your hips and shoulder. Your back leg will support most of your weight, making it easier on your front leg and knee. Push forward to return to your original position.

Watch this video to see how it's done…

Clock Lunge -- This movement combines Forward Lunges with Lateral and Reverse Lunges, giving your legs a well-rounded workout.

Image Source: Oxygen Mag

Step forward into a regular Lunge, return to your original position, step to the side for a Lateral Lunge, return to your original position and step backward into a Reverse Lunge. That's one rep!

Watch this video to see how it's done…

Curtsy Lunge -- This is an awesome movement that increases hip mobility while working the muscles in your legs.

Image Source: Greatist

To perform the exercise, start in your original Lunge position. Step your right foot backward, crossing it behind your left leg as if performing a curtsy. Your right knee should be parallel with your left knee, and forming a 90-degree angle with the floor.

Watch this video to see how it's done…

Reverse Lunge with Rear Leg Raise -- This is a great exercise to double down on the butt work! By adding in the Rear Leg Raise (a movement that exclusively hits the hamstrings, glutes, and lower back), you can increase the rounding of your upper posterior.

Image Source: Greatist

To perform the exercise, start in your original Lunge Position. Step your right foot backward into a regular Reverse Lunge. When you step forward, raise your rear leg as high in the air as you can.

Watch this video to see how it's done…

Elevated Lunge -- Also known as the "Bulgarian Split Squat," this is one heck of a killer exercise for your quads! The fact that your rear leg is on a bench means that most of the work is done by the quad muscles of your foreleg, but your rear leg quads also do the work. It's not as good for your butt or hamstrings, but it's great for serious leg strength!

Image Source: Oxygen Mag

To perform the exercise, start with the top of your left foot resting on the bench, and your right foot about Lunge distance from the bench. Lower your body until your left knee is nearly touching the ground. Your right thigh should be parallel with the floor.

Watch this video to see how it's done…

Lunge Jump -- This plyometric exercise combines the classic Lunge with a bit of cardio-killing jumping! It's great for improving your cardiovascular function as well as leg strength.

To perform the exercise, start already in Lunge position--feet spread, knees bent, back straight, etc. Without moving your core or upper body, jump into the air and switch the position of your feet (i.e.; right foot from front to back, left foot from back to front).

Watch this video to see how it's done…

Your Lunge Workout

Here is a killer Lunge Workout that will help you build serious leg strength and shape your booty like a bad-ass:

  • 2 Sets of 12 reps of Walking Lunges
  • 2 Sets of 8 Reps of Clock Lunges
  • 2 Sets of 12 reps of Elevated Lunges
  • 2 Sets of 20 reps of Lunge Jumps (1 rep per jump-switch)
  • 1 Set of 12 reps of Curtsy Lunges
  • 2 Sets of 12 reps of Lunge with Rear Leg Raise

By the time you finish this workout, your legs will be on fire, your blood will be pumping, and you'll be well on your way to shredded legs and a killer butt.

This workout routine is easy to follow especially since it's simple and can be done in the comforts of your home. Always remember that the results this routine could give your body would last for a long time especially of you keep up with it.

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