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: reverse lunge.
Runners require two things from strength training: balance and power. We need to ensure that our leg muscles are balanced on each side (imbalance causes injury) and we want to be able to exert power from in our powerhouse muscles for sprinting and intervals.
Lunge variations are some of the best exercises that we can do because they work on both of those elements. They mirror the movement of running, requiring one leg at a time to take the weight, while stabilising with the other foot. Reverse lunges are excellent because we rarely move backward so we get an even better opportunity to work on balance and coordination.
What exactly is a reverse lunge?
A reverse lunge simply involves stepping back into a lunge position. You can use dumbbells, a barbell, a kettlebell or bodyweight. If opting for the latter, you can up the ante by setting a timer and seeing how many you can do in a minute, taking a 10-second rest, and repeating three times. Or, you could slow the movement right down so that you’re increasing the time under tension.
Reverse lunges are great because:
- They work the posterior chain (back side muscles): If you run a lot, you may neglect those crucial back muscles. They’re absolutely vital for running strong so it’s important to concentrate on them during strength sessions.
- You don’t need to use weights: They’re a great bodyweight exercise.
- They can be used as a cardio exercise: Add them into a circuit and aim to do as many as you can in a set amount of time to get the heart pumping.
- They’re simple to do: Lunges are pretty easy to do and come with a low injury risk (if you take your time doing them), so they’re a great exercise to start your strength training journey with. Add weights, speed up or add a jump to make them more advanced.
What muscles does the reverse lunge work?
Reverse lunges primarily work the lower body – focussing on the posterior chain muscles:
- Gluteus maximus
You’ll also find that they challenge core control and ankle stability.
How to do a reverse lunge
- Stand with feet hip-width apart, hands on hips.
- Step back with your right foot, bending both knees as you do so.
- Bend the right knee so that it hovers an inch off the floor. Your front leg should be at a 90° angle.
- Transferring your weight into the left foot, lift the right foot and straighten both legs to bring yourself back up to standing.
Keen to improve your form? Check out our How To library to see exactly how the experts do over 100 of the most common strength training exercises.
Miranda Larbi is the editor of Strong Women and Strong Women Training Club. A qualified personal trainer and vegan runner, she can usually be found training for the next marathon, seeking out vegan treats or cycling across London on a pond-green Tokyo bike.