Woman-in-workout-clothes-doing-lunges

How to Do a Lunge: A Hinge Health Guide

Learn how to do a lunge to help with lower body strength, flexibility, and mobility, plus modifications to make it easier or harder.

Published Date: Jun 16, 2023
Woman-in-workout-clothes-doing-lunges

Want to strengthen your lower body? Do something to reduce knee pain? Increase your flexibility? Try a lunge. This versatile exercise helps build strength in your glutes and legs, which can improve your balance, prevent injuries during sports and everyday activities, and help you return to exercise if you’ve been dealing with acute or chronic pain in your lower body. 

There are many different lunge variations. The most basic is a forward-bending lunge, which we’ll discuss here, along with modifications to make the movement easier or more challenging.

Our Hinge Health Experts

Dylan Peterson, PT, DPT
Physical Therapist and Clinical Reviewer
Dr. Peterson is a Hinge Health physical therapist who focuses on developing clinical exercise therapy programs and member education.

What Is a Lunge Exercise? 

A lunge is an exercise that involves stepping forward and lowering the front part of your body to the ground as you support your weight with your front heel and lift your back heel off the floor. Doing lunges is a great way to strengthen lots of lower body muscles at the same time, which can be helpful if you’re recovering from an injury or trying to prevent one.

What Muscles Do Lunges Work? 

Lunges are a strengthening exercise that can also help promote better balance. Doing a lunge strengthens your leg muscles, including your quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves, which help stabilize your knee joint. Lunging also works your gluteus maximus, the biggest muscle in your butt. Lastly, you need to engage your core during a lunge, so you can also use this exercise to strengthen your abdominal muscles. 

Lunge Benefits

Lunges help to improve strength and balance, both of which are important whether you’re hoping to prevent an injury or recover from one. Some other benefits of lunges include: 

  • Building strength in muscles used for walking, running, or high-intensity exercise

  • Helping your leg muscles better support your knees if you have osteoarthritis 

  • Allowing your glutes to better stabilize your hips if you have hip or pelvic pain

  • Improving balance by stabilizing your core

  • Stretching your hip flexors, which can help with pain resulting from sitting in the same position frequently

  • Correcting muscle imbalances

Lunges: Exercises and Modifications

The information contained in these videos is intended to be used for educational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice or treatment for any specific condition. Hinge Health is not your healthcare provider and is not responsible for any injury sustained or exacerbated by your use of or participation in these exercises. Please consult with your healthcare provider with any questions you may have about your medical condition or treatment.

Lunge

Lunge

Lunge

Lunge

To do a lunge exercise: 

  • Take a big step forward with one foot. 

  • Bend your front knee, keeping most of your weight on your front heel. Your back heel can lift off the floor onto your toes. 

  • Hold this position while you find your balance. 

  • Push through the heel of your front foot to return to a standing position.

Everyone’s body is different, so you may find that you need to adjust the lunge exercise to make it easier or more challenging for you.

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Lunge Modifications

Lunge Modifications

Lunge Modifications

Lunge Modifications

To make lunges easier:

  • Hold onto a stable surface like a table, wall, or doorway for better balance. 

  • Decrease your range of motion by limiting how far you bend your front knee. 

  • Do a reverse lunge instead, which involves stepping backward with one leg while keeping the front knee bent and then lowering your body. 

To make lunges harder:

  • Increase your range of motion by bending deeper into your front knee. You can also hold the lunge for a longer duration. 

  • Take a bigger step forward when you lunge. This requires more strength and stability to push off and return to the starting position.

  • Place your front foot on a step, platform, or sturdy elevated surface to increase the range of motion. This requires greater effort from your working leg.

How Hinge Health Can Help You

If you have joint or muscle pain that makes it hard to move, you can get the relief you’ve been looking for with Hinge Health’s online exercise therapy program.

The best part: You don’t have to leave your home because our program is digital. That means you can easily get the care you need through our app, when and where it works for you.

Through our program, you’ll have access to therapeutic exercises and stretches for your condition. Additionally, you’ll have a personal care team to guide, support, and tailor our program to you.

See if you qualify for Hinge Health and confirm free coverage through your employer or benefit plan here.

This article and its contents are provided for educational and informational purposes only and do not constitute medical advice or professional services specific to you or your medical condition.

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References

  1. Forward Lunge. Ace Fitness. Retrieved from https://www.acefitness.org/resources/everyone/exercise-library/94/forward-lunge/

  2. Jönhagen, S., Ackermann, P., & Saartok, T. (2009). Forward Lunge: A Training Study of Eccentric Exercises of the Lower Limbs. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 23(3), 972–978. doi:10.1519/jsc.0b013e3181a00d98

  3. Marchetti, P. H., Guiselini, M. A., Silva, J. J. da, Tucker, R., Behm, D. G., & Brown, L. E. (2018). Balance and Lower Limb Muscle Activation Between in-Line and Traditional Lunge Exercises. Journal of Human Kinetics, 62(1), 15–22. doi:10.1515/hukin-2017-0174

  4. Muyor, J. M., Martín-Fuentes, I., Rodríguez-Ridao, D., & Antequera-Vique, J. A. (2020). Electromyographic activity in the gluteus medius, gluteus maximus, biceps femoris, vastus lateralis, vastus medialis and rectus femoris during the Monopodal Squat, Forward Lunge and Lateral Step-Up exercises. PLOS ONE, 15(4), e0230841. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0230841