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Sane WORKOUTS for WOMEN in their OVER 40's
FREE GUIDE: The doable exercise I do, for women who want to look & feel good while not jumping around like a lunatic. #goodbyehiit

Reverse Lunge for Glutes

How to Do Reverse Lunges for Glutes - Squat Alternative for Bad Knees | In-Depth Guide [VISUAL LEARNERS]

Proper Form & Common Mistakes | Home Strength Training

LET’S DO IT: HOW TO DO Slider Reverse Lunges - FULL VERSION (6 min)




MOVE INTRO: HOW TO DO THe Reverse Lunge for Glutes - FAST VERSION (2 min)



MAIN MUSCLES WORKED IN Reverse Lunges for Glutes


  • Gluteus Medius and Minimus


Starting Pointers


Other names for this exercise: Backward Lunge for Glutes
MOVE INTRO: GETTING STARTED WITH Reverse Lunges for Glutes (1 min)

This reverse lunge variation places a significant emphasis on your glutes, particularly the gluteus maximus. This muscle is the largest in your glutes and plays a crucial role in hip extension, or bringing your thigh backward. Beyond glute strength, the reverse lunge demands stability and balance. By stepping back and lowering your body, you engage stabilizing muscles around your hips and knees, contributing to improved overall lower body stability.

This is a nice movement for really working the gluteus maximus. This version of the reverse lunges is kind of like a cross between a deadlift and a lunge or split squat. You should feel a lot of concentrated work being done by your gluteus maximus muscles. Most of your weight will be on your front foot, using your back foot for balance. Concentrate on bending and straightening your front hip instead of thinking about bending and straightening the knee. In this lunge your upper body will lean forward more than other lunges. As you bend down into the lunge position, you will be hinging forward at your front hip to move your shoulders over the ball of your front foot.

Compared to exercises like squats or traditional lunges, the reverse lunge is gentler on the knees. Stepping back instead of forward reduces the pressure on the knee joints, making it a suitable option for individuals with knee sensitivity.



HOW Reverse Lunges for Glutes SHAPE OUR BODY

Builds and tones the muscles of the hips, thighs, and calves.


PROPER FORM: Reverse Lunge for Glutes

LET’S DO IT: HOW TO DO Reverse Lunges for Glutes - FULL VERSION (6 min)



None needed.




2 sets of 8 reps on each side


Slow descent for the eccentric muscle activation, quick (but controlled) return to standing.


BODY POSITION FOR THE Reverse Lunge for Glutes

FEET: About 4-5 inches apart. Toes pointed forward.

BODY STANCE: Neutral spine (includes cervical spine - neck) with core muscles gently engaged, sternum lifted. Shoulders and hips square and level. 

ARMS: Hands on top of your pelvis.


HOW TO DO Reverse Lunges for Glutes

CUE: Most of your weight should be on your front leg, using your back leg mostly for balance.

Hinge forward at your front hip as you take a step back with your non-working leg. Bend your hip, knee, and ankle of the front leg (your back knee will bend also) to lower down into a lunge position. Your shoulders should be about over the ball of your front foot in the bottom position.

Return to the starting position by pushing into the floor with the front leg and straightening the hip, knee and ankle - you will get more glute activation if you think about doing the movement by straightening the hip - the knee and ankle will follow. 

Repeat to complete set.




WHAT TO AVOID WITH THE Reverse Lunge for Glutes


Guess what? Good news! Many avoids are the same for most movements. Once you learn the basics, there's really only a few extra avoids for each individual movement.


1. Avoid Pelvis Tilt

AVOID:  Avoid letting the pelvis rotate or tilt.


  • This is probably the most common mistake.
  • This happens when you move through the pelvis and back instead of the leg - usually due to weak hip abductors.
  • Rotating or dropping the pelvis will decrease muscle activation in the gluteus medius and minimis.


  • Try the following:
    • Shorten up your stance.
    • Put your hands on the top of the pelvis to monitor the movement.
    • Use a mirror if possible.
    • Limit the depth of your lunge.
  • Avoid not straightening your hip all the way to the top of the movement.
    • After lunging down, when you push back up to standing, make sure to fully straighten the hip.
      • There should not be a crease at the front of the hip (either one).
    • This is a pretty common error, it will decrease the activity of the gluteus maximus and hamstrings.
    • Slow down the movement and get a nice contraction of the hip extensors at the top of each lunge, before stepping back for the next rep.

2. Avoid Knee Caving In or Out

AVOID:  Avoid letting the knee collapse in or out.


  • This puts too much strain on the ligaments on the sides of the knee joint.


  • A goal of the exercise is to work the muscles and train the body to move with proper form, this includes the alignment of the leg.
  • Keep the thigh in line with the knee, in line with the lower leg and ankle. 
  • The center of the kneecap should line up with the second and third toes (approximately).

3. Avoid Hip Dropping

AVOID:  Avoid hip dropping.


  • When this happens (huge struggle for me!) it means that the glute medius of the WORKING leg is not doing its job and that will cause your working hip to kind of move outwards laterally, causing the other hip to drop.


  • Try to keep your hip level as you take the leg back.

4. Avoid Keeping Hip Bent

AVOID:  Avoid not straightening your hip all the way to the top of the movement.


  • After lunging down, when you push back up to standing, make sure to fully straighten the hip.
    • There should not be a crease at the front of the hip (either one).
  • This is a pretty common error, it will decrease the activity of the gluteus maximus and hamstrings.


  • Slow down the movement and get a nice contraction of the hip extensors at the top of each lunge, before stepping back for the next rep.

5. Avoid Wrong Weight Distribution

AVOID:  Avoid keeping too much weight on your back leg.


  • This will decrease the activity of the targeted muscles.


  • Remember that this is a transition from 2 legs to single-leg exercise. 
    • You should feel like the front leg is doing most of the work and the back leg is just there to help when needed and keep you balanced.
    • About 70-75 percent of your weight should be on the front leg.

6. Avoid Heel Lifting

AVOID:  Avoid lifting the heel of the front leg as you lunge down.


  • This shifts your weight forward and puts too much strain on the front of the knee.


  • Keep the weight evenly distributed on the bottom of your foot - both sides of the heel and both sides of the ball.



BENEFITS OF TRAINING THE Glutes, Quads, & Hamstrings

WHAT: WHAT THIS Reverse Lunge IS ALL ABOUT (4 min)


I feel like any sane person hates lunges. So if you hate lunges, guess what? That PROVES you are mentally stable - I fit into that category so I can just ignore whatever my family tries to tell me about that. ;)- 

Because I’m sane, I don’t program hundreds of lunges in the Inspireful Women workout program. That said, lunges DO have a place in pursuing fitness which we’ll talk about in the why section soon. But for now, let me say this. Of all the types of lunges you can do, you’re going to hate reverse lunges the LEAST. 

This means these are the best lunges to start with - maybe even stick with - forever.

That’s because the working legs stay in place, unlike other lunges - thus it’s much easier to do these with proper form, AND it also means our glutes & hamstrings are more involved with the quads than other types of lunges - so you have three big muscles helping you stand back up instead of just mostly the quads as in other types of lunges. I don’t know about you but I need all the help I can get to get myself back up off the floor - with any element of grace at least. 

And remember, lunges are a single-leg exercise - this means your working leg is lifting nearly all of your body weight, minus the weight of your lower legs. So example - if you weigh 175 lbs, your working legs are lifting somewhere in the neighborhood of 150 lbs all by its lonesome! If you think of it like this, that sort of gives away one of the “why” reasons for including lunges some of the time, in reasonable doses, in a workout program. Because you can build real strength & muscle, at home, pretty easily with just your body & at some point a couple of light dumbbells. Our leg muscles are BIG, STRONG, and there’s more than one - for double leg exercises like squats & deadlifts, you have to use a LOT of weight to actually challenge these muscles sufficiently to build real muscle- and we typically don’t have those sorts of heavy weights at home to work with and even if we did, many women feel uncomfortable using them. By doing exercises with one leg, you instantly increase the load that leg is working with substantially, & you don’t need all those weight machines & heavy weights to build leg muscle, & thus you can avoid the stinky gym. You’re welcome.


Reverse lunges are a nice addition to any lower-body workout. The exercise works many of the muscles of the legs and moves the ankle, knee, and hip joints through a large range of movement. Reverse lunges target the biggest muscle groups of the legs and have the added bonus of working on stability, balance, control, and core strength. Another plus is that reverse lunges work the same muscles as the forward lunge but can be easier on the knees, making it a good choice if you have problems with your knees. The reverse lunge will also work the muscles on the back of the hip and leg more (gluteus maximus and hamstrings). 

In the reverse lunge, the lunging leg (front leg) stays in place as the hip and knee bend down to lunge and then push back up. This makes it much easier to use the gluteus maximus and hamstrings to straighten the hip at the top of the movement - when you are returning to standing after the downward lunge. This is different from the forward lunge. In the forward lunge, the front leg has to step backward after it lunges. In order to step backward the knee and hip are slightly flexed, which results in less gluteus maximus and hamstring contribution (because the hip is not loaded when it moves to neutral) – the quadriceps do most of the work. 

The reverse lunge should feel controlled. The working leg stays under your torso as the other leg steps back. So you can slow down and feel control during each part of the movement. There is so much going on with a reverse lunge, if you pay attention to what you are feeling and which parts of it are challenging - you can really learn a lot about your strengths and weaknesses. You can use this information as a mini self-assessment. Your discoveries will tell you something about what you need to work on, you may need to work on your balance, core stability, ankle or toe range of motion, muscle tightness, etc. You will know if you are on the right track if the quality of the movement improves and the exercise gets easier over time. For example - When you first pick your leg up to step back into the lunge - how is your balance? How stable is your leg? Does your pelvis drop down? When you place your foot back, do you feel a stretch, and if so, where? As you lunge down, do you lose your balance? Is it challenging to keep your balance or to keep your trunk upright? Does your front leg start to shake? Or do you feel like the movement is limited by your ankle, knee, or hip?




BENEFITS: WHY BOTHER DOING Reverse Lunges (10 min)

#1 For real build muscle & strength in your legs at home.

This is a mostly single-leg exercise - this means that one leg will be lifting the majority of your body weight all by itself. Which is pretty stinking hard. When something is stinking hard for your muscles, guess what, they react by getting stronger.

Because our leg muscles are already big & strong by design & there are multiple ones - quads, hamstrings, glutes, calves - when they work together to do something, they just naturally can handle a pretty heavy load - compared to say, our much smaller shoulder muscle. This means that to truly challenge all these leg muscles together - enough to the point where doing 8-12 reps of something is really all they can stretch themselves to do, in order for them to respond by building muscle, we have to have QUITE a bit of load.
In double leg exercises like squats &deadlifts, this usually means that you have to use very heavy weights- often with the use of machines or super big dumbbells or barbells with plates - which then typically means a trip to the gym for most of us. But who wants that? We’re about working out at HOME here at Inspireful Women - in a non-intimidating environment, with your cat or dog revering you by your side as you exercise, the wonderful non-gym smell of your living room, the visually pleasing environment of your personal taste in decor whether that be mid-century modern, boho or industrial farmhouse (btw I feel like my style is more like industrial bohemian, & I thought I made that term up until I looked it up on pinterest & it’s already a thing). Single-leg exercises are an effective way to stay out of the gym while still building real muscle in our legs.

#2 Functional - trains multiple muscles to work together just like they do in real life.

Lunges are known as compound (also referred to as complex or combined) movements - the movement requires the coordination of many muscles and joints. These exercises are considered more functional because they work the muscles and joints together in similar ways to how we use them in everyday life. Most of our daily activities involve movement at more than one joint at a time, and a combination of strength, flexibility, joint mobility, balance, and stability.

The reverse lunge is used for strengthening the biggest and most powerful muscles in the hip and leg. The movement works the quadriceps, gluteus maximus, hamstrings, and calf muscles both as you lunge down (eccentrically) and as you press back up (concentrically) to encourage muscle growth and improve power. With stronger and more powerful legs, the back does not have to work as hard - the legs do more of the heavy lifting and moving. The reverse lunge also targets the core and leg stabilizers needed for balance during sports and daily activity and to protect the joints of the spine and lower extremities.

#3 Large ROM for Our Biggest Muscles = Keeps You Young - May Even Make You YOUNGER!

Lunges are taking our bodies through a lot of range of motion through lots of joints - this is EXCELLENT for us because as we get older & move less often, stop doing things like spontaneously running or jumping the way kids do- isn’t it so peculiar that kids do that? Anyhow, we quit all that nonsense + just AGING (definition our body naturally falls apart over time) = our joints gradually become stiffer & less able to fluidly move through their full range.

The reason this is a problem is because many movements in life require using those joints through their full range to do properly, capably, & without pain.

An exercise like this will get a ton of these joints moving all in one exercise, rather than having to do a separate exercise for each joint - all the way down to our ankles & toe joints! Over time, you will find that you simply feel more capable as you go about moving in everyday life. I know I’ve really noticed a difference.

#4 Reverse Lunge = Less Knee Strain

For many of us, we might be using the excuse that lunges hurt our knees and THAT’S why we don’t do them (when really we just hate lunges because they’re stinkin’ hard, which I’m here to tell you is a totally legit reason all in itself).

Really though, it’s true, lunges can present a problem for some of our over 40 knees. My knees are like “Hey woman, I’m over 40 years old now. That’s my get-out-of-lunges-free card, so back off.”

The first thing I want to say is that if you have knee pain in some exercises- there is a way to build up the muscles & stabilize muscles that surround your knee joint, which can eventually make even those movements pain-free for you. That’s for another discussion.
But back to reverse lunges - this particular type of lunge puts less strain on the front of the knee than a forward lunge because the front leg stays in a balanced and stable position while the body weight is loaded onto the working leg (as the other leg steps backward).
Contrast that to the front lunge, where the working leg steps forward and makes contact with the ground - in this case the quadriceps muscle has to work to absorb the impact while slowing down the forward movement of the weight of the body. This can put more force through the knee joint and the tendon.

#5 Reverse Lunge = Great For Feet & Toes (Who Knew?!)

An added bonus of the reverse lunge is that the position of the foot of the “non-working” leg stretches the bottom of the foot and mobilizes the toes. The non-working leg is back behind the body in the lunge position. The toes are pulled back (extension) and planted on the floor, and the ankle is flexed (dorsiflexed - bent so that the toes are brought closer to the shin, not pointed down). The weight of the back leg is on the ball of the foot and toes. This does a nice job of stretching the ligaments that run across the bottom of the foot, the plantar fascia, and working of the joints of the toes. The toes need to be able to bend back (towards the top of the foot) when you push off during walking. It is fairly common for people to lose mobility in their toe joints with age, this can affect stride length and walking speed.

In the reverse lunge, you will be working on transitioning from double-leg strengthening to single-leg strengthening. This transition can be really helpful for identifying and correcting differences in your left and right sides, not only the strength, but also the range of motion, balance, and control.




HOW WE USE OUR Quads, Glute max and Hams IN EVERYDAY LIFE

IN LIFE: EVERYDAY WAYS WE USE THe Quadriceps, Gluteus Maximus and Hamstrings (2 min)


  • Standing
  • Walking
  • Running
  • Jumping
  • Climbing 
  • Recovering from a slip or trip
  • Balancing
    • Standing on one leg
    • Standing upright on uneven and even surfaces
  • Going up and down stairs
  • Transitioning sit to standing to sit
    • Sitting in chairs
    • In and out of cars
    • On and off of the toilet
  • Squatting down/getting up
    • Getting things out of the bottom shelf
    • Getting up and down from the floor
    • Gardening
    • Picking items or kids up
  • Shock absorbers to protect the ankle, knee, and hip joints during
    • Walking
    • Running
    • Jumping


How to Feel What Muscle is Working

Quadriceps: Sitting upright, place your hand on the front of your thigh (of the test leg). Hook the ankle of the other leg to hold the test leg (the leg that your hand is resting on) in place. Try to straighten the test leg by lifting the foot. You will feel your quadriceps contract.

Hamstrings: Scoot to the edge of the seat. Place your hand on the back of the thigh of the test leg. Take the leg off of the front of the ankle and place it behind the ankle. Try to pull the test leg back. You will feel the hamstrings contract.

Gluteus Maximus: Place your hands on your bottom - about where they would be if you put your hands in your back pockets - with the palms on your buttocks. Push down into both feet as if you were pressing yourself up to standing. Try to keep the front of your thighs relaxed so that the muscles under your hands contract. Try activating only one side at a time. It is common, especially if you have a history of back or leg injury or pain, to have the glute max on one side which is more challenging to activate. You should work to correct this.




The single-leg exercise uses body weight for resistance so the working leg is actually lifting nearly your body weight minus the weight of your lower leg, so for a 120 lbs person you are squatting about 105 lbs. 

The kneecap (patella) is a small bone that actually grows in the tendon of the quadriceps (the patellar tendon). All four muscles that make up the quadriceps join together into one tendon that crosses the front of the knee and attaches on to the front of the tibia (at the tibial tubercle).

The back of the patella forms a joint with a groove in the femur. So when you bend, your kneecap moves down and when you straighten the knee the kneecap moves upwards. It slides up and down in the groove of the femur. 

As the knee bends, the back of the patella moves deeper into the groove of the femur. With the forward lunge, there is a forward force through the femur - the weight of the body is moving forward all directed at the front of the knee. This can contribute to the knee strain that is sometimes felt with forward lunges. 

People frequently have some arthritis on the back of their kneecaps- just normal wear and tear over time. As the kneecap rides up and down on the femur under pressure it can wear down even more. So the lunges may not hurt at all while you do them or even after you, but they can increase the wear and tear on the joint.

Many people tend to have tight quads, which would further increase the compression of the joint. Hinging at the hips will put some slack on the rectus femoris which can help to decrease the pressure behind the kneecap when in the lunge position.



The core stabilizers will be active throughout the exercise to maintain a neutral spine. The hamstrings and glute max of the non-working leg contract concentrically to step back. The muscles of the front or working leg will co-contract around the ankle, knee, and hip to support the weight and stabilize the joints.

Working leg (lunging): The gluteus maximus, hamstrings, and calf muscles work eccentrically as the hip, knee (flex) and ankle (dorsiflexion) bend to lunge down. These same muscles will contract concentrically to push the body back into upright standing. The back leg’s role is primarily to maintain balance and stability, it can help on the return to standing as needed.