Reverse Lunges: Muscles Worked and Benefits

Reverse Lunges: Muscles Worked and Benefits

There are several benefits to having stronger legs. I don't think any of us can question that! Nowadays, it seems like most people want bigger and stronger legs too.

You may be wondering, what are some good leg exercises other than standard squats?

Truthfully, there are a lot of popular ones. One of my personal favorites is lunges. Even more specifically, a variation of lunges called reverse lunges.

If you haven't tried them out, I highly encourage it. But, what do reverse lunges look like? How do you do reverse lunges? What are the muscles worked and the benefits of doing reverse lunges? That's what we'll be talking about today.

What Are Reverse Lunges?

As I said, reverse lunges are a variation of traditional lunges. They're more of a single-leg exercise because you are pushing through one leg at a time. However, you'll also be using your other leg for stability.

You can do reverse lunges with your bodyweight, or as a weighted exercise too. Either way, they can be a great way to challenge your legs in a new way.

I personally prefer them over walking lunges because they allow you to stay in place. This can be especially beneficial if you're in a crowded gym and don't have much extra space on your hands.

Reverse lunges also help target and build strength in several of the biggest muscles in your legs. So, let's talk about what those muscles are next.

Muscles Worked With Reverse Lunges

Which muscles do reverse lunges work? Quite a few! In fact, you'll target most of the muscles in your legs.

Let's start with the muscle that sits on the front of your legs and get a lot of work in this exercise...


When I do reverse lunges, my quads burn, and I mean BURN! Your quadriceps (or quads for short) are the 4 large muscles that sit on the front of your thigh.

As you lower your knee in a reverse lunge, your quads help with support and stabilization. In addition to that, they help your knee extend.

With reverse lunges, you'll be sure to target your quads effectively.


Ah, the good old glutes. These are what most people refer to as your butt. The glutes are actually 3 muscles: the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and gluteus minimus.

In a reverse lunge, your glutes can get some great work. They help your body extend your hip forward in the upward motion. On top of that, they also produce power and help keep your body upright throughout the exercise.


The hamstrings are a group of three muscles located on the back of your thigh. In a reverse lunge, they help with the flexion of your knee as you lower your body. They also help extend your hip forward as you come back up.

So, yes, you will be giving your hamstrings a little bit of love in a reverse lunge as well.


No, we're not talking about calves as in baby cows. Your calves are the muscles that sit on the back of your leg between your knee and ankle. They are two muscles called the soleus and gastrocnemius.

During a reverse lunge, your calves will help stabilize your ankle joint. They can also help to keep you balanced and stable throughout the movement.


I bet you didn't see this one coming! Yes, your core is also engaged in the reverse lunges. Now, your core isn't just the muscles you think about as your "abs". Your core is your lower back muscles as well as your abdominal muscles.

Reverse lunges can help challenge your core muscles by recruiting them for stabilization throughout the exercise. Trust me, improving core strength can be a great benefit of reverse lunges. But, what are some of the other benefits you can get from reverse lunges?

Benefits of Reverse Lunges

There are a number of benefits that come with performing reverse lunges. Many of them are a huge reason they remain a staple in my leg routine!

Reverse Lunges Can Help Increase Leg Strength 

The muscles in your legs are clearly bound to benefit from reverse lunges. Working your quads, hamstrings, and glutes will only help to progress their strength. This strength can directly benefit performance in day to day life as well!

Reverse Lunges Can Help Improve Balance and Stability 

Reverse lunges can challenge your body’s ability to stay upright. As you step back, it requires your lower body and core to develop the balance to keep yourself upright. This can also help improve your body's spatial awareness to reduce your risk of injury.

Reverse Lunges Can Help Correct Muscle Imbalances 

Since this is mostly a single-leg movement, it can help to improve any imbalances between your legs. The movement can help target both sides of your body equally.

This is important because it’s best to have both legs as balanced as possible. When you go to use both of your legs in an exercise, it can help keep one from taking on more of the work. Overall, that can also indirectly improve your overall strength.

How To Reverse Lunges

So, how do you do a reverse lunge? It's actually incredibly simple. However, that doesn't make this leg exercise any less effective! The biggest challenge will be getting your balance down as you get used to reverse lunges.

You can do them as a bodyweight exercise or with weights. When it comes to weights too, you can use practically anything. I like using dumbbells and barbells. For the sake of keeping the explanation simple, I'll talk about how to do them with dumbbells.

1. Grab a dumbbell in each hand and stand upright with your feet hip-width apart. Leave your arms at either side of your body with your palms facing toward you. Brace your core and focus on keeping your chest high throughout the movement.

2. With one foot, take a step backward onto your toes. Slowly lower your back knee toward the floor by sinking into your hips and bending your front knee.

3. Keep lowering your back knee toward the ground until your front knee is bent at 90 degrees. Your back knee should be a couple inches off the ground.

4. Pause for a second before pushing off the ground and powering through your front foot. Squeeze your front glue and quad to bring your body upward.

5. As you come upward, bring your back foot back under your body to stand upright once again.

6. Now, repeat this on the opposite leg. You'll repeat this for reps, alternating between legs with each rep.

Reverse Lunges Are Just the Beginning

Reverse lunges can be an excellent leg exercise to add to your routine. From building strength and stability to improving imbalances between your legs ... They are awesome!

I think they are a great exercise to throw in the middle of your leg workout. This is what I personally do, and have stuck with it!

Now, yes, reverse lunges are a great leg exercise. However, they definitely aren't the only leg exercise you should be doing. Building stronger legs and making progress toward your goals is going to require a wide variety of different exercises.

Plus, that's not even to mention the nutrition and recovery side of the equation. I get it, reaching your goals can be a long and difficult process. It's also hard to know exactly what to do to earn the best results possible.

Whether you want to build muscle, burn fat, or a combination of both, we all want to look and feel better. I know I do. Yet, this is all a whole lot easier said than done.

The good news is, that's why we're here to help. Our mission at 1st Phorm is to help real people like you and me earn real and long-term results. There are no hacks, which means you have to do the work. But if you're willing to do the work, we'll always meet you halfway.

We even created the ultimate all-in-one tool for your fitness to help along your journey. That tool is the 1st Phorm App, and it's designed to simplify the process of earning results.

Inside the app, you'll get access to:

• 1-on-1 messaging and assistance from your own certified advisor

• A custom nutrition plan and an easy way to log your food to stay on track

• Custom workout programs geared toward your goals

• Educational live streams and step-by-step workout videos to help guide you

• Activity and step-counting software

• Progress tracking and body metrics to make sure you get the results you're after

To get started reaching your goals, just download the 1st Phorm App here, and I promise you won’t regret it. We’ll do whatever we can to help you get where you want to be!

If you have any questions or need help in the meantime, don’t hesitate to reach out! We have a full team of NASM Certified Personal Trainers and Nutrition Coaches right here in St. Louis, Missouri. Just give us a call at 1-800-409-9732 or send us an email at any day from 6 AM to 10 PM Central.

Download the 1st Phorm App

Other Popular Articles

View all