The Reverse Lunge Exercise Is One of the Best for the Butt and Thighs

Master the proper form for this important strength move, and you'll build more than muscles.

Lunges may seem like a boring strength exercise, especially when compared to all the trendy tools, techniques, and move mash-ups you might see on your Instagram feed. However, it's important to remember that these "basic" moves are key to master before trying any of the tricky stuff — and they come with plenty of benefits, no matter how simple they seem.

The reverse lunge exercise is a perfect example. Though it's a foundational functional movement, the backward motion of the reverse lunge makes this more of a coordination challenge than strictly a strength-training exercise.

Reverse Lunge Benefits and Variations

Why switch it into reverse? Stepping backward challenges your balance and body awareness, says NYC-based trainer Rachel Mariotti, who's demonstrating the exercise in the video above. "It requires a little more focus and control than the forward lunge," she adds. Mastering this move will help you improve coordination so you're better able to handle agility work and other athletic skills, such as pushing sleds, doing box jumps, and jumping laterally.

Not to mention, the reverse lunge exercise helps teach you how to properly hinge at your hip joint, pushing weight through the heel instead of the ball of the foot, and it activates your glutes more than other lunges, says Mariotti. Bonus: If you have cranky knees, reverse lunges may also be the best option. Compared to other lunges, reverse lunges were found to be the best in developing the glutes and quadriceps muscles with relatively low shearing force at the knee, according to a study presented at the 2016 International Conference on Biomechanics in Sports. (But that doesn't mean you have to stick to doing only reverse lunges; there are so many different lunge variations that you'll never get bored.)

Before you try the reverse lunge exercise, master the forward lunge and the walking lunge. To make it even harder, add a knee drive at the top (stand on the front leg and drive the back knee forward and up to high-knee position), add external resistance (try a kettlebell, dumbbells, or a barbell), or even combine the reverse lunge with a cable row to make it a total-body exercise (just like Shay Mitchell did in this workout with trainer Kira Stokes).

How to Do a Reverse Lunge

A. Stand with feet together and hands clasped in front of chest to start.

B. Take a big step backward with right foot, keeping hips square to the front and pelvis neutral. Lower until both legs are bent at 90-degree angles, keeping chest tall and core engaged.

C. Press into mid-foot and heel of the left foot to stand, stepping right foot up to meet the left.

Do 8 to 15 reps. Switch sides; repeat. Try for 3 sets.

Reverse Lunge Form Tips

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