How to Modify a Lunge for the Obese

Tailor your workout and strengthen your legs with a few simple modifications.
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Obese people have a leg up over other beginning exercisers. Since you move the weight of your body around all day, you start off with a base level of strength that unconditioned skinny people may not have. Utilize this strength and safely challenge your muscles further to start your workouts on a positive note. Lunges develop strong quadriceps, hamstrings and glutes, and the added muscle mass will increase your metabolism and burn more calories all day long, even on your off days. Since your leg muscles are significantly involved in daily activities, simply driving to the gym may get a whole lot easier too.

    Do a stationary lunge for added stability. Stand about 2 feet away from a wall or sturdy piece of equipment. Place one foot in front of the other, about 3- to 4-feet apart and keep your balance by lightly touching the wall for support. Keeping your torso upright, contract your abs and all the muscles in your legs to support your joints. Bend both knees until the front knee is at a 90-degree angle and the back knee is a few inches off the ground. If this is too intense, only lunge as far down as you feel comfortable. Squeeze your leg muscles to come back up to the start. If it hurts your knees to repeatedly move up and down, lower into the lunge and hold the position for five to 10 seconds.

    Perform a chair squat to safely work the same muscles. Place a chair with its back against the wall. Stand in front, facing away from the chair with feet hip-width apart. Resisting the movement with your leg muscles, sit back into the chair as slowly as you can. Keep your weight in your heels and move your butt back in space to really feel your legs and butt working. Without resting, tightly contract your leg muscles to come back up to stand. Use the strength of your legs rather than momentum. Use a higher chair to make this exercise even more accessible.

    Do small step-ups. Stand next to a wall and face a 2- to 5-inch step, sturdy block of wood, or stair. Lightly touch the wall for support. Place your right foot on the step. With your weight towards your right heel, use the muscles in your right leg to step up fully onto the step. Slowly lower back to the start by resisting the movement with the muscles in your right leg. Repeat on the left side.

    Things You'll Need

    • 2- to 5-inch step

    • Sturdy chair


    • Do 10 to 15 reps of each exercise on three non-consecutive days each week. Rest 30 seconds between each exercise.

      Hire a trusted personal trainer to work with you at least once each week. She can monitor the safety and effectiveness of your workouts and provide ongoing guidance and support.


    • Expect to feel your muscles working, but stop if you feel sharp or injurious pain. Consult a doctor before starting any workout program.

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