How to Do a Side Lunge: A Hinge Health Guide

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

Published Date: Aug 15, 2023

If you think of lunges as solely a warm-up exercise to prep you for another workout, like going for a run or doing a fitness class, think again. Lunges are a great exercise all on their own because they promote general strength and stability. For that reason, physical therapists commonly recommend lunges to people who would benefit from strengthening their lower body, which, in turn, can help ease knee pain, improve balance, and enhance mobility.  

The side lunge works muscles in a slightly different way and may be a more gentle exercise for your knees than the classic forward lunge. Here, we’ll cover everything you need to know about the side lunge exercise and how to modify it to meet your fitness level.

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 Side Lunge?

A side lunge — also called a lateral lunge — is a strength and balance exercise that starts by standing with your feet slightly wider than your hips. As you lean to the side and shift your weight to one leg while bending into the knee, your lower body muscles will fire up.

What Muscles Does the Side Lunge Work?

A side lunge helps improve strength in your glutes, or your butt muscles. This exercise also builds strength in your inner and outer thighs, quadriceps, and hips. Because you’re moving side to side, you’ll work muscle groups at a different angle than with a traditional, forward lunge. 

Side Lunge Benefits

Side lunges carry many benefits that will improve how you function in your everyday life because they work some of the biggest muscle groups in your lower body. As a result, side lunges can help: 

  • Improve your balance 

  • Alleviate muscle imbalances

  • Promote spine and core stability

  • Make it easier to climb stairs and walk up and down hills 

  • Improve performance in workout classes or sports that require side-to-side movements

Side Lunge: 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.

Side Lunge

Side Lunge

Side Lunge

Side Lunge

To do a side lunge: 

  • Stand with your feet pointed slightly out, wider than your hips. 

  • Next, shift your weight to one leg and bend into the knee (keep your knees behind your toes), and stick your butt out as if you’re sitting in a chair, all while keeping your opposite leg straight and foot planted on the ground. 

  • Hold this position for a few seconds. 

  • Push through your foot on the bent knee side to straighten your leg and come back to the starting position. 

  • Repeat on the other side.

Everyone is different, so you may need to modify the side lunge exercise to meet your needs.

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Side Lunge Modifications

Side Lunge Modifications

Side Lunge Modifications

Side Lunge Modifications

To make a side lunge easier: 

  • Start with your feet in a narrower stance and limit how much you bend your knee, going only as far as you feel stable.

To make a side lunge harder: 

  • Start with your feet in a wider stance and deepen the bend of your knee. You’ll notice a more intense burn in your glutes as you get lower.

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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  1. Riemann, B., Congleton, A., Ward, R., & Davies, G. J. (2013). Biomechanical comparison of forward and lateral lunges at varying step lengths.The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness, 53(2), 130–138. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23584319/

  2. Jeong, U.-C., Sim, J.-H., Kim, C.-Y., Hwang-Bo, G., & Nam, C.-W. (2015). The effects of gluteus muscle strengthening exercise and lumbar stabilization exercise on lumbar muscle strength and balance in chronic low back pain patients. Journal of Physical Therapy Science, 27(12), 3813–3816. doi:10.1589/jpts.27.3813