Lunges are a fantastic exercise to work your glutes, hamstrings, and quadriceps. But they are not for everyone. If you have knee problems, you are probably going to want to stay away from lunges. In this article, I’ll lay out 7 excellent alternatives to lunges that will allow you to work the same muscles that are worked with standard lunges. I’ll provide you with both home and gym options. For some of the home lunge alternative exercises, you will need a resistance band, which can be purchased for just a few dollars.
Muscles Worked With Lunges
The lunge exercise mainly targets the glutes and quadriceps, with the hamstrings also being involved. When you do a forward lunge, you hit the quads more intensely. A reverse lunge will transfer the focus to the posterior lower body muscles – the glutes and hamstrings.
6 Gym Lunge Alternatives:
1. Weighted Step Ups
Stand in front of a step-up box that is either 24 or 32 inches in height holding a pair of dumbbells in your hands. Step your left foot up onto the box. Now follow through with your right but, instead of planting it on top of the box, drive the knee into the air. Reverse to lower that foot back to the floor. Now bring your left foot back down also. On the next rep, lead with your right foot.
2. Goblet Squats
Stand with your feet hip-width apart and a kettlebell held by the handle in front of your chest. Be sure to keep the weight close to your body throughout the exercise. Now hinge at the hips to drop down into a parallel squat position. Do not allow your low back to round or your torso to drop forward. Now push through your heels to power back to the start position.
3. Treadmill Sprint
Get on a treadmill and perform a 2-minute warm-up at a slow to moderate pace. Slowly build up the speed over the 2 minutes. Now set the speed to a fast sprint and run for 45-60 seconds. Then drop the speed to a walk for 30 seconds. Do 5-6 sets of sprints.
4. Box Squats
Position a box that is about 24 inches in height in the middle of a squat rack. Load the appropriate weight and stand in front of the bar with feet shoulder-width apart. Unrack the bar and rest it across your trapezius and shoulders. Now take a step back so that your butt is just in front of the box.
Hinge at the hips to go down into a parallel squat until your butt touches the box. Pause for a second and then push through the heels to drive back to the start position. Do not allow your knees to cave in throughout this movement.
5. Leg Extensions
Sit on a leg extension machine and set the seat back as far as possible. Position your ankles under the shin pads and select the appropriate resistance from the weight stack. Now push your lower legs up to just short of full knee extension. Lower until you are just short of full contraction. Perform your reps through this middle 80% range of motion.
6. Leg Curls
Sit on a vertical leg curl machine and place your ankles over the shin pads. Select the appropriate weight and grab the side handles. Now press down to bring your lower legs down to full contraction. Reverse and repeat.
5 At Home Lunge Alternatives:
1. Frog Pumps
Lie face-up on an exercise mat with a resistance loop band positioned around your lower thighs, knees bent, and feet together. Place your arms on the floor alongside your body. Now pump through the pelvis to bring the hips as high as you can. Squeeze your glutes in the top position before returning to the start position. That is one rep.
2. Squat With Abduction
Stand with feet wider than shoulder-width apart, a resistance band looped over your ankles. Clasp your hands together in front of your chin. Descend down into a parallel squat. When you come out of the squat, extend your straightened right leg out to the side. Immediately move into your next squat. When you come out of it, extend the left leg out to the side. That is one rep.
3. Thruster + Abduction
Position yourself on an exercise mat, face-up on all fours with a loop resistance band around the mid-thighs. You should be resting on your palms and your feet, with your knees bent and together. Now lift your hips as high as you can into the air. Then push your thighs apart. Bring your thighs back together and then lower to the start position. That is one rep.
4. In & Out Jump Squat
Secure a resistance band to a secure upright at waist level. Hold the band in both hands and stand about four feet from the upright, facing it. Now descend down into a parallel squat. Jump out of the bottom position to bring your feet together and perform another parallel squat. Jump out of the bottom position to separate your feet again as you descend into the next rep. Continue in a fluid motion to complete your reps.
5. Single-Leg Deadlift
Secure a resistance band to a secure upright at waist level. Hold the band in your left hand and stand about four feet from the upright, facing it. Now hinge at the hip to bring your torso down to a parallel position with the floor. Simultaneously extend your right foot back and your right arm forward. Return to the start position. That is one rep. Do all reps on the right side and then repeat on the left side.
Select one or two of the lunge alternatives described above and add them to your routine. Your leg workout should consist of a total of 16-20 sets over 4-5 exercises. Be sure to choose exercises that work all of the lower body muscles equally.
This article was last updated on March 16, 2022 .