Reverse lunges may not be the most fun to do but they should certainly be a girl's best friend. This simple exercise does wonders for shaping and toning those jiggly butt and thigh areas even without weights. The reverse lunge works several muscles of the lower body and offers a host of other benefits that will help improve overall health and performance.
To perform a reverse lunge, stand with your feet slightly apart, back straight and abdomen tight. Take a step back with your right leg. Lower your body toward the floor until your front knee reaches 90 degrees and your back knee nears the floor. Press through your left heel to return to the standing position and repeat the exercise with your left leg.
Improved Strength and Endurance
Even if done with only your body weight, the reverse lunge will help improve muscular strength. The exercise works several muscles in the lower body including the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, calves and even your core muscles to some extent. You can increase your strength gains from the reverse lunge by holding a dumbbell in each hand or a dumbbell in only one hand at a time to provide a greater challenge for your core. Use heavier weights for two to three sets of five to 10 reps for optimum strength improvement. Body-weight reverse lunges are very effective for improving muscular endurance in the working muscles, especially if you perform high repetitions. Aim for two to three sets of 15 to 30 reps with each leg for endurance gains. Use small dumbbells for an extra challenge.
The reverse lunge is a great exercise choice for those individuals who spend all day sitting at a desk. Constant sitting can cause the muscles on the front of the hips and legs, particularly the hip flexors, to shorten and weaken. This can lead to discomfort, back pain and injury. You may even experience early fatigue in your hips when performing activities that rely heavily on the hip flexors such as running or climbing stairs. The reverse lunge dynamically stretches your hip flexors and quadriceps with each repetition. Make this exercise a part of your regular routine to help prevent any possible issues from arising.
The first time you tried a reverse lunge, there's a good chance you wobbled a bit. This is because the exercise takes a decent amount of balance. If you lack that balance when you first start out, you will definitely see improvements after a few workouts. The reverse lunge requires stability in all of your working joints as well as your core muscles. If your stabilizing muscles are weak, you'll wobble. Once your ankles, knees, hips and torso endure a few bouts of the exercise, you should be able to do reverse lunges in a high crosswind without tipping over.
Improvement in Other Areas
The reverse lunge can benefit you in other areas of your active life. For example, regular reverse lunges can improve your performance during squats, leg presses and leg extensions. Keeping your muscles well conditioned with reverse lunges can also decrease your risk of injury and enhance overall functioning of your body during running, cycling, walking, hiking or any other activity that relies heavily on your lower body.
- ShapeFit.com: Reverse Dumbbell Lunges
- USA Today: Hip flexor muscles can help you stand up to pain
- Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning, Third Edition; Thomas Baechle, et al
- Steve Mason/Photodisc/Getty Images
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