Are Walking Lunges a Quad or Hamstring Exercise?

If you begin to lose your balance on a walking lunge, stop the exercise.

If you begin to lose your balance on a walking lunge, stop the exercise.

If you add walking forward to the standard lunge exercise, you use twice as many muscles, according to Suzanne Nottingham’s “Nordic Walking for Total Fitness.” The walking lunge works both the quads and hamstrings, and is one of the most effective overall leg-strengthening activities. Because you land on one foot and lower your body in deceleration mode, you develop balance and coordination. As you become fatigued, the tendency is to lean forward. Proceed slowly in one lunge after another, keeping your body on the same plane and moving straight up and down.

The Walking Lunge

Stand with your feet parallel and hip-width apart.

Step forward about 1 1/2 to 2 feet and bend your front knee until the upper leg is parallel to the floor. Align your lead knee directly over your foot. Avoid letting your knee drift in front of your foot or wobble sideways.

Bend your back knee until the upper leg is perpendicular to the floor, lifting your back foot up at the heel. Inhale as you lower your body. Use your back leg for stability.

Exhale as you push up, bringing your back leg forward. Keep your upper body erect, hips square and gaze forward throughout the exercise.

Step forward into the next lunge with the opposite leg. Repeat the forward lunge six times, alternating legs. Turn around and do another six lunges until you reach your starting position.


  • As you grow stronger, increase the length and depth of your lunge or add dumbbells. To increase the intensity of the exercise, add a biceps curl while you lunge.


  • If the lunge is painful, decrease the depth of your lunge. Only lower yourself to a point that is comfortable.

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  • Conditioning for Outdoor Fitness: Functional Exercise & Nutrition for Every Body; David Musnick
  • Weight Training for Women: Step-By-Step Exercises for Weight Loss, Body…; Leah Garcia
  • Nordic Walking for Total Fitness; Suzanne Nottingham et al.
  • Weight Training Workouts and Diet Plan that Work; James Orvis
  • The ACL Solution: Prevention and Recovery for Sports’ Most Devastating Knee Injury; Robert Marc et al.

About the Author

Kay Tang is a journalist who has been writing since 1990. She previously covered developments in theater for the "Dramatists Guild Quarterly." Tang graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in economics and political science from Yale University and completed a Master of Professional Studies in interactive telecommunications at New York University.

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