A woman doing a curtsy lunge with a dumbbell

Move of the week: curtsy lunges build glute med strength

Posted by for Workouts

Welcome to our weekly Move of the Week series. Every Monday, we’ll be sharing with you one of our favourite exercises – how to do them, what muscles they work and why they should be a regular part of your workout regime. This week: curtsy lunges.

There are so many ways to perform lunges: forwards, reverse, stationary, with pulses and jumps… the list goes on. While all of these effectively work the quads and glutes, the curtsy lunge is king for building functional strength. This is because it not only moves up and down and forwards and back, but also side to side. 

It also works into those muscles that are often neglected, such as the glute medius (med). The lateral stepping of the curtsy lunge works the muscle that’s essential for stabilising the hips and reducing pain. But it also targets those big muscles too, like the quads, calves and glute max. 

What is a curtsy lunge?

A curtsy lunge involves stepping backwards, like a reverse lunge. Only, rather than placing your foot directly behind you, it crosses behind your other leg and out to the side for an extra challenge. 

The exercise is great because:

It builds lower body strength: the lunge uses all the muscles in your legs and glutes.

It works through lateral planes of motion: not only do you move forwards and back in a curtsy lunge, but also to the side. This isn’t only an often-forgotten movement pattern, but also further engages the glute med for outer-hip strength. 

It improves stability and balance: work on staying steady with an engaged core as you step backwards. 

What muscles do curtsy lunges work?

A curtsy lunge is a move that primarily targets the lower body muscles, including:

  • Glute max, med and min 
  • Quads 
  • Calves 
  • Rectus abdominals
  • Transverse abdominals
  • Obliques 

How to do a curtsy lunge

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and hands in front of you or gripping a dumbbell at your chest.
  2. Engage your core by bringing your belly button to your spine and keeping your ribs drawn in.
  3. Lift your right foot off the floor and take a step back behind your left leg. Your right toes should be placed on the outside of your left foot.
  4. Don’t rotate through the hips as you do so – they should both be facing forwards.
  5. Bend at the knees until your right knee lightly taps the floor behind you and your left thigh comes parallel to the floor. 
  6. Push through the left foot return to the start position. That’s one rep.

Images: Stylist

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Chloe Gray

Chloe Gray is the senior writer for stylist.co.uk's fitness brand Strong Women. When she's not writing or lifting weights, she's most likely found practicing handstands, sipping a gin and tonic or eating peanut butter straight out of the jar (not all at the same time).

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