How to Lunge With a Twist: Proper Form, Variations, and Common Mistakes

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Doing a lunge with a twist added is a great core exercise that also builds strength in the lower body. In this movement, the action comes from your torso as well as your legs. This variation of the basic lunge is a good addition to a lower body strength training workout.

Also Known As: Lunge twist

Targets: Abdominals, glutes, quads, hip flexors, and hamstrings

Equipment Needed: Medicine ball, dumbbells, and weights (all optional)

Level: Beginner

How to Do a Lunge With a Twist


Watch Now: How To Do a Lunge With a Twist

Stand up tall with your feet shoulder-width apart. If you're using a medicine ball, hold it directly in front of you with both hands, your elbows bent about 90 degrees.

  1. Step forward with your right foot, lowering your body into a basic lunge position.
  2. Twist your upper body to the right from your midsection. Keep your core engaged, squeeze your glutes, and be careful to not rotate your knee.
  3. Bring your arms back to the center in a slow, controlled movement.
  4. Step the right foot back and return to the starting position.

You may want to perform these steps without weight until you build up your strength.

Benefits of the Lunge With Twist

Performing a lunge twist while holding a medicine ball engages the legs, glutes, and core. The quads and hamstrings in the legs are isolated during the lunge. By adding the twisting motion—with or without added weight—your glutes contract more fully as you engage your core.

Adding this exercise to your workout routine can help you improve balance and proprioception. It's also a great way to engage the muscles used in any exercise performed one leg at a time, such as running, cross-country skiing, and even cycling.

Building strength with the lunge with a twist makes it easier to perform everyday activities such as scrubbing the floor around you or twisting the body to reach parts when working on a car. If you've had hip surgery, this exercise may be included in your rehabilitation therapy.

Other Variations of the Lunge With Twist

You can perform this exercise in different ways to better meet your skill level and needs.

Shallow Lunge for Hip or Knee Issues

If you don't have a lot of strength and stability in your hips or knees, start out taking it easy with lunges. While you generally want your knees to be at a 90-degree angle in a deep lunge, it's best to take it slow and work up to that form if it's uncomfortable for you.

You may also need to do more shallow lunges if your knee is giving and collapsing as you bend. Stick with this modified version until you build up your strength.

Barefoot Lunge With a Twist

To increase the difficulty, try performing the lunge with a twist barefoot. Without the additional support of shoes, the small muscles of your feet and ankles must become engaged to maintain your balance.

Walking Lunge With a Twist

You can also turn this exercise into a walking lunge. Instead of returning the lunging foot back to start, return your body to center by twisting your torso forward, then pull the other leg forward to take a step.

You can continue to challenge yourself with this exercise and any of its modifications by increasing the number of reps or sets you do as you build strength and endurance.

Common Mistakes

Avoid these errors to keep the lunge with a twist effective and safe.

Twisting Your Knees

To avoid injury and get the benefit of a solid core workout, make sure you're twisting from your torso in your lunge. In other words, the movement should come more from your ribs than from your lower body—and definitely not from your knees.

Poor Form

In every lunge you do, keep an eye on your form. Before you start your lunge, check to make sure:

  • You're facing forward
  • Your back is straight with shoulders back
  • Your core is engaged

As you lunge, keep your knees in alignment. Don't let them get ahead of your toes, as this can strain your patellar tendon (the tendon that attaches your kneecap to your shinbone) and your quads.

Safety and Precautions

If you have knee pain or are recovering from surgery, you may want to avoid lunge exercises until you're healed. Ask your doctor, physical therapist, or trainer for suggestions, modifications, or similar moves you can add to your workout as you rehabilitate and heal.

As always, it's a good idea to chat with your doctor before you start a new workout or add a new exercise to your routine. This helps ensure that the activity or movement is safe for you given your fitness level and health conditions.

Aim to complete two sets of 10 reps on each side. If this is too much, start with one set of 5 to 10 reps and work up from there.

Try It Out

Incorporate this move and similar ones into one of these popular workouts:

4 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Hadzovic M, Ilic P, Lilic A, Stankovic M. The effects of a knee joint injury prevention program on young female basketball players: a systematic review. J Anthr Sport Phys Educ. 2020;4(1):51-6. doi:10.26773/jaspe.200109

  2. Kraeutler M, Anderson J, Chahla J, et al. Return to running after arthroscopic hip surgery: literature review and proposal of physical therapy protocol. J Hip Preserv Surg. 2017;4(2):121-130. doi:10.1093/jhps/hnx012

  3. Zellmer M, Kernozek TW, Gheidi N, Hove J, Torry M. Patellar tendon stress between two variations of the forward step lunge. J Sport Health Sci. 2019;8(3):235-41. doi:10.106/j.jshs.2016.12.005

  4. National Strength and Conditioning Association. Knee movement and exercise guidelines.

By Elizabeth Quinn, MS
Elizabeth Quinn is an exercise physiologist, sports medicine writer, and fitness consultant for corporate wellness and rehabilitation clinics.