Simple Single-Leg Progressions For Anyone And Everyone. Part 2: The Reverse Lunge
This one is maybe my favorite of all the variations in this 4 part series. No matter how strong I am at a particular point in the year or how great I feel on a particular day, these ones always have the ability to turn my legs to jello and it’s an added bonus that my butt really responds to these ones.*
*Note: some people’s quads blow up during lunges, specifically forward walking ones – you may not respond the same way I do, but the reverse lunge CAN be recruit the booty a little more than the forward walking variation. It still is a part of this series because it’s more knee-dominant in its movement.
This one looks similar to Part 1’s split squat, but if you look at the video below, you’ll see that the back leg doesn’t stay planted in place the whole time. It has the added benefit of challenging our hip, knee, and ankle stability a little bit more and we can produce quite a bit of power in the front leg, which has excellent carry over to daily life and athletics.
Set up and basic execution:
– Start standing normally
– Take a step backward with one foot, but keeping the majority of your weight on the front one
– Lower yourself under control until the front thigh is about parallel to the floor and the back knee is just an inch or two above the floor
– Keeping the entire front foot flat, drive into the ground and bring your back leg back to the start position
– Stay tall and firmly rooted in the ground and make sure the front knee doesn’t cave inwards
Specific advice for beginners:
– If you’re a true beginner, I’d start at the split squat and progress your way here. In that exercise, both feet stay planted in the same place, making it a pretty simple task once you’re set up. It’s one less thing that needs to be dealt with from rep to rep
– If you’re currently moving forward from the split squat, start with bodyweight to practice your foot position and to get a sense of balance demands
– And also just like the split squat, if you’re adding weight, then the goblet position or holding a dumbbell in either one or two hands are great places to start
– The same advice applies about pauses and slow eccentrics so be sure to check back to the split squat article for that if you haven’t already
Ways to make it harder:
– A barbell. You can go front or back position, either way you’re going to feel the quads, butt and core like crazy. Probably also your heart. Start light with the weight, and please don’t make me say I told you so!
– Weight vest. At some point if you’re holding dumbbells at your sides, your grip strength may be your limiting factor in getting the reps done, instead of your leg strength. Adding a weight vest can solve this problem.
– For the extra sadistic, try a zercher position with a barbell!
Sets and reps depend on where these fall in daily workout as well as what your goals are, but I love working these in the 5-8 reps/leg range to get big and strong, or in the 10-12 reps/leg range to jack up my heart rate even more, to promote a bit of muscle building, or to help stimulate fat loss.
Here’s a goblet version:
Give the reverse lunge a shot on one of your lower or full body days and let me know how it goes!!