If you’re looking to develop big, strong legs, you’re going to have to learn to lunge, in all its variations. This particular version, the reverse lunge, hits the same major muscle groups as other forms—glutes, quads, hamstrings— but it does so while putting less stress on the knee joints. With forward lunges, deceleration must occur as your front foot lands to stop the forward motion; this can put undue strain on the patella tendon. When the motion is in the opposite direction, as with reverse lunges, the patella tendons are no longer taking the brunt of the decelerating force, which means you can focus more on the muscles you’re training than the achy knees that would otherwise come later.
The Lunge Zone
- Stand holding a pair of dumbbells at your sides, with your feet together.
- Make sure you have at least a few feet of clearance behind you.
- Start with your chest out, head up, and a slight bend in your knees.
Step backward with your right leg, landing on the ball of the foot, then bend both knees to lower yourself to the floor. (Make sure to step back far enough so your front knee is behind the toes at the bottom of the movement.) When your front thigh is parallel with the floor, extend your knees and hips to stand back up to the start position. Alternate legs with every rep.
WHERE IT HITS: Glutes, quads, hamstrings
WHEN TO DO IT: Middle to late in your quad workout, after squats
HOW TO DO IT: 3–4 sets, 12–15 reps per leg