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Lunges are a popular strength training exercise among people wanting to strengthen, sculpt, and tone their bodies, while also improving overall fitness and enhancing athletic performance.

This resistance exercise is popular for its ability to strengthen your back, hips, and legs, while improving mobility and stability. Lunges are ideal for those wishing to get stronger and for current athletes, including runners and cyclists.

Continue reading to take a look at the benefits of lunges along with what muscles they target and a few variation options.

1. Weight loss

Lunges work the large muscle groups in your lower body, which builds leans muscle and reduces body fat. This can increase your resting metabolism, which allows you to burn more calories and trim excess weight.

If you’re looking to lose weight, push yourself to your outer limits by including lunges in a high-intensity circuit training routine using heavy weights.

2. Balance and stability

Lunges are a lower body unilateral exercise since you work on each side of your body independently. The single-leg movements activate your stabilizing muscles to develop balance, coordination, and stability.

Working one leg at a time causes your body to be less stable, which forces your spine and core to work harder to stay balanced.

3. Alignment and symmetry

Lunges are better than bilateral exercises for rehabilitation since they can correct imbalances and misalignments in your body to make it more symmetrical.

If you have one side that’s less strong or flexible, spend a bit of extra time working on this side so you don’t overcompensate or overuse the dominant side.

4. Stand taller

Lunges strengthen your back and core muscles without putting too much stress or strain on your spine. A strong, stable core reduces your chance of injury and improves your posture, making common movements easier.

5. Stationary lunges

Stationary lunges target your glutes, quadriceps, and hamstrings. You’ll put most of your weight on your front leg and use your back leg to balance, stabilize, and support your entire body.

You’ll want to get the form down since stationary lunges are the foundation for all the lunge variations.

6. Side lunges

Lateral lunges develop balance, stability, and strength. They work your inner and outer thighs and may even help to reduce the appearance of cellulite.

Side lunges train your body to move side to side, which is a nice change from your body’s normal forward or twisting movements. Plus, side lunges target your quadriceps, hips, and legs at a slightly different angle, thus working them a little differently.

Pay attention to the outsides of your legs and work on activating these muscles as you do these lunges.

7. Walking lunges

To do walking lunges, you’ll need balance and coordination. The walking variation targets your core, hips, and glutes, and improves overall stability. They also increase your range of motion and help to improve your functional everyday movements.

To make walking lunges more difficult, add weights or a torso twist.

8. Reverse lunges

Reverse lunges activate your core, glutes, and hamstrings. They put less stress on your joints and give you a bit more stability in your front leg. This is ideal for people who have knee concerns, difficulty balancing, or less hip mobility.

Reverse lunges allow you to be more balanced as you move backward, changing up the direction from most of your movements and training your muscles to work differently.

9. Twist lunges

You can add a twist to stationary, walking, or reverse lunges to activate your core and glutes more deeply. Twisting lunges also require balance and stability as you twist your torso away from your lower body while maintaining the alignment of your knees.

You’ll also activate the muscles in your ankles and feet.

10. Curtsy lunge

Curtsy lunges are great for strengthening and toning your derrière, which is excellent for your posture. Strong glutes also prevent and relieve back and knee pain, all of which help to improve your athletic performance and lower your risk of injury.

Curtsy lunges also sculpt and strengthen your hip adductors, quadriceps, and hamstrings as well as improve hip stabilization. Use a kettlebell or dumbbell to up the intensity of this variation.

11. Lunges and squats

Lunges and squats both work your lower body and are a valuable addition to your fitness regime. You may favor lunges if you have low back pain since they’re less likely to strain your back. Consider focusing on squats if you feel more stable in this position.

Since this pair of exercises will work your body in similar ways, it’s a matter of personal preference to see if either exercise feels better for your body or brings you the best results. Of course, adding both lunges and squats to your routine is beneficial.

Lunges increase muscle mass to build up strength and tone your body, especially your core, butt, and legs. Improving your appearance isn’t the main benefit of shaping up your body, as you’ll also improve your posture and range of motion.

Lunges target the following muscles:

  • abdominals
  • back muscles
  • gluteal muscles
  • quadriceps
  • hamstrings
  • calves

Lunges are simple, making them accessible to people who want to add them to part of a longer routine or do them for a few minutes at a time throughout the day. You must stay on track and be consistent to maintain your results over time.

If you do lunges regularly as part of a larger fitness routine, you’ll notice results in terms of building muscle mass and shaping up your body. You’ll likely feel the results before they are visible.

You may develop tight, toned, and stronger muscles and start to lower your body fat percentage within a few weeks. More noticeable results may take a few months to develop.

For each lunge variation, do 2 to 3 sets of 8 to 12 repetitions. If you feel yourself starting to plateau, up the intensity by doing more difficult variations, adding weights, or increasing the amount you do.

The physical benefits of doing lunges may extend into other areas of your life, giving you more strength and confidence. Get the form down correctly before you move on to more challenging variations, and modify as necessary.

Even if significant weight loss isn’t your goal, you may find that your legs and core are more toned. Base your accomplishments on how you feel and remember to take the time to rest and appreciate your efforts.