How to Master Your Lunge Form for Better Lower Body Results

Lunges may be an easy bodyweight exercise to do, but nailing your form will make sure your legs are getting the results they deserve! We've put together a little guide to help you do lunges (and other variations) properly!

How to Master Your Lunge Form for Better Lower Body Results
María Rubio María Rubio
6 min read

If you follow any of the Fit With Iulia workout plans, you’ll notice that lunges and their different variations are a staple on leg days. It’s all for good reason! Lunges are one of the basic bodyweight exercises that you learn how to do early on in your fitness journey because it’s easy to tackle, However, despite them being easy to do, they are one of the best exercises that fires up your entire lower body. Many prioritize squats and deadlifts to build stronger glutes, but lunges are actually one of the best exercises that works your glutes, especially if using a heavy weight like a barbell! Not only that, but they effectively target your quads, hamstring, calves, hip, and core muscles while improving your stability.

You definitely don't want to miss out on the benefits of lunges, but in order to reap the benefits, you need to learn how to do them properly. Despite them being an easy exercise, many lifters still struggle with their form and techniques – yes, beginners and advanced lifters too! So, we're going to give you the details on how to do lunges (and their different variations), plus common mistakes to avoid.

How to do the classic walking lunge


Before trying other variations of lunges, learn to master the walking lunge. Walking lunges are the best because it adds an extra degree of difficulty to the static lunge because it places focus on keeping your balance as you move forward.

You can do it with a barbell on your shoulders for a heavy challenge, use your body weight (ideal for beginners), or hold a pair of dumbbells in each hand like we'll be showing you below.

How to do it:

  1. Begin standing with your feet about hip-width apart and holding dumbbells in your hands down by your side. This will be your starting position.
  2. Step forward with one leg, flexing the knees to drop your hips. Descend until your rear knee nearly touches the ground.
  3. Your posture should remain upright, and your front knee should be in line with your front foot. Do not allow your front knee to go forward beyond your toes as you come down, as this will put undue stress on the knee joint.
  4. Drive through the heel of your lead foot and extend both knees to raise yourself back up.
  5. Step forward with your rear foot, repeating the lunge on the opposite leg.

Common mistakes to avoid

To ensure your form is as best as it can be, avoid these common mistakes when performing walking lunges or its other variations:

  • Stepping too far: When you’re doing forward or reverse lunges, be careful not to step too far forward or backward. People may do this because they think that it’s better for flexibility, but this way you put too much stress on just one knee. When you’re down in a lunge position, both knees must be bent at a 90-degree angle or close to it, without stretching your back leg.
  • Extending your knee past your toes: Similar to stepping too far, taking just a small step forward will make your front knee go past your toes, putting unnecessary stress on your knee and shin, and you definitely don’t want that. Make sure that your shin is as perpendicular to the floor as possible, it doesn’t have to be perfect, just avoid driving your knee too far forward.
  • Narrowing your stance: In order to properly perform a lunge movement, your feet must be shoulder-width apart, which allows for stability when you lower yourself. Narrowing your stance will only make this movement harder and will hit the muscles in a different way than intended, which isn’t ideal and will mess with your stability.
  • Leaning your torso too far forward: Balance is key when doing lunges. This common mistake happens when you lower yourself and lean forward, putting most of your weight on your front leg and knee, instead of balancing it between both legs. Leaning a little bit is okay as long as you don’t shift all the weight to the front leg, instead keeping your core tight to maintain your balance.
  • Overcompensating with other muscles: When going down into a lunge position, be careful not to neglect any muscle involved in the movement. Forgetting to tense your glutes or your quads will leave your calves and feet to do a lot of the work, which is not ideal. Make sure that your quadriceps are keeping your leg forward, and that your glutes and hamstrings are supporting the weight for stability through the whole range of motion.

Best lunge variations

Not every exercise works for everyone, and that’s the case for lunges too! Some people are more flexible than others or have more lower-body strength than others. Luckily, there are several variations that you can try in order to find one (or more) that you feel comfortable doing.

Here are a few of our favorite variations of lunges:

Reverse lunge


Just like the name indicates, the reverse lunge is your basic lunge done backward instead of forward. For some people, this variation may be even easier to control than the forward lunge, and it allows for more overall flexibility around the thighs.

How to do it:

  1. Stand upright with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Drive your leg backward to perform a reverse kneel, keeping your front thigh parallel to the floor and making sure that the back knee doesn’t go all the way down.
  3. Pause for a moment, then go back up to the initial position by pressing on the front heel and pushing with the back foot.
  4. Repeat with the other leg, and continue alternating legs for the desired amount of reps.

Lateral lunge


Also known as a side lunge, this variation relieves your knees from a lot of stress, since you’ll be moving to the sides instead of forward and backward, and it helps develop more flexibility around the hips.

How to do it:

  1. Stand upright with your feet hip-width apart.
  2. Take a big step to the side with your right leg and lower your body by flexing the right knee until it’s bent at a 90-degree angle approximately. Make sure to keep your left leg stretched out, without bending your left knee, and your back straight instead of curved.
  3. Pause for a moment, then press with your right foot to go back to the starting position.
  4. Repeat with your opposite leg, and continue alternating legs for the desired amount of reps.

Curtsy lunge


This movement is essentially a variation of the reverse lunge, but instead of just stepping back with one leg, you’re going to step back and to the side, crossing your legs. Coordination and balance are key to getting this variation down, so it can be more difficult than the previous ones.

How to do it:

  1. Stand upright just like you would with a regular lunge, with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Drive your right foot back and to the left side, past your left leg, crossing them. As you do this, lower your body by bending both knees until your left thigh (at the front) is parallel to the floor and your right knee is almost touching the floor.
  3. Pause, then press on the left heel and push with the right one to get back to the start position.
  4. Repeat with the other leg, and continue alternating legs for the desired amount of reps.

Front lunge to reverse lunge


This lunge variation combines a front and reverse lunge to effectively target your quads and posterior chain. Front lunges tend to target the quads more, while reverse lunges are better for the hamstring and glutes. Combining the two leads to better muscle stimuli for better growth, and it gets your heart rate pumping!

How to do it:

  1. Execute forward lunges by standing straight with your feet together. Contract your abdominal muscles to stabilize your upper body.
  2. Lift your right leg off the floor and take a giant step forward. Slowly lower your torso by bending your left knee toward the floor. Lower until your right knee forms a 90-degree angle, and your knee is aligned with your ankle.
  3. Push yourself upward and return to the starting position by slowly stepping backward.
  4. Bend your right knee to form a 90-degree angle between your thigh and calf while lowering your left knee toward the floor.
  5. Push yourself upward with your thigh muscles and return back to the starting position.
  6. Repeat with the other leg, and continue alternating legs for the desired amount of reps.

Lunge your way to a stronger lower body

Lunges are typically a bodyweight exercise, but if you’re serious about building muscle and endurance, for each one of these variations you can add a pair of dumbbells or kettlebells on each hand, or even a barbell, in order to really challenge your muscles and work them to the max.

Keeping these common mistakes and the ways to correct them in mind will help you master the lunge and promote better results so you can achieve the strong, toned legs you’ve been dreaming of! Remember that proper form is important when you’re doing any kind of exercise in order to avoid injuries and to get the most out of your workout routine.

And if you’re looking to add them to your strength training workouts but are not sure how, or just want someone to plan them for you, check out the Fit With Iulia app! Iulia plans new goal-focused workouts every week to help you achieve your fitness goals while also giving you a space to track your macros, your progressive overload, and much more. Try your first workout for free by downloading the Fit With Iulia app, choosing a goal, and starting your first workout with Iulia – no subscription required!