12 Great Lunges for the Hips, Glutes, and Thighs

Lunges work a lot of muscle groups in the lower body, making them a good exercise for toning your hips, glutes (butt), and thighs. Plus, there are a variety of ways to do this exercise. Each one works the muscles a little differently and you can change them up to keep your workout fresh.

Aim to do a couple of these lunge variations two to four times per week, giving your legs, hips, and glutes 24 to 48 hours to fully recover between exercise sessions.

Before starting these exercises—or any other exercise routine—talk with your doctor to make sure they are safe for you based on your fitness level and health conditions.


Static Lunge


Watch Now: How To Do a Static Lunge

Static lunges are great for working all of the major muscles of the hips, glutes, and thighs. In this basic lunge version, you're simply dropping your knee down rather than stepping forward or back.

  1. Stand with your right foot forward and left foot back so they are about three feet apart.
  2. Bend your knees to lower your body towards the floor. Don't let the front knee extend beyond the toes and lower straight down rather than forward.
  3. Keep your torso straight and abs in as you push through the front heel and back to a starting position.
  4. Don't lock the knees at the top of the movement.
  5. Hold weights in each hand, if desired, for more of a challenge.

Assisted Lunge

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

This version is just like a static lunge, except you're using a chair or wall for balance. This is a great way for beginners who want to practice lunges but worry about losing their balance.

  1. Stand with your right foot forward and left foot back, about three feet apart.
  2. Hold onto a chair or wall for balance.
  3. Bend the knees and lower them toward the floor until the back knee is a few inches from the floor and the front knee is at a right angle. Keep your front knee behind the toes and be sure to lower straight down rather than forward.
  4. Keep your torso straight and abs in as you push through the front heel and return back to the starting position.
  5. Perform 1 to 3 sets of 8 to 16 reps.

Sliding Lunge

This sliding lunge is a new twist on a traditional exercise and uses the muscles of the hips, glutes, and thighs in different ways. You can do this exercise using paper plates, a towel, or ​gliding discs.

  1. Stand with feet hip-width apart, the ball of the left foot resting on the paper plate, towel, or disc.
  2. Bend your right leg while sliding the left foot backward into a lunge position.
  3. Keep the front knee behind the toe and keep the back leg slightly bent. Also keep the weight in the front leg so you always have control of the foot resting on the plate.
  4. Slowly slide the left foot back to start, pushing into the plate, and repeat for 8 to 16 reps before switching sides.

Sliding Side Lunge

Sliding side lunges are another variation. By placing your foot on a paper plate, towel, or gliding disc, you can target the inner thigh of the sliding leg while working the hips and thighs of the lunging leg.

  1. Stand with feet hip-width apart and place the ball of the left foot on the plate, towel, or disc.
  2. Bend the left knee, sitting back into the heel as you slide the right foot out to the side.
  3. Keep the left knee behind the toe, your torso upright, and abs in.
  4. Press into the plate to contract the inner thigh and slide the right foot back.
  5. Repeat for 1 to 3 sets of 8 to 16 reps and then switch legs.

Split Squat

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

Split squats are yet another way to vary traditional lunges. In this exercise, you elevate the back foot onto a step or platform. This places more emphasis on the front leg and adds a balance challenge, which makes this exercise pretty tough.

  1. Stand about three or so feet in front of a step or platform and place the right foot on the platform, either resting on the toe or the top of the foot.
  2. Make sure your feet are wide enough that the front knee stays behind the toe when you lunge down.
  3. When you have your balance, bend both knees and lower down into a lunge.
  4. Push through the front heel to stand up and repeat for 10 to 16 reps before switching sides.
  5. Hold weights for added intensity.

Form pointers:

  • Only go down as low as you comfortably can. This move does require flexibility in the hip flexors, so if you feel tight in the front of the hips, stick with regular lunges.
  • Make sure the front knee does not go beyond the toe or you risk hurting the knee joint.

Low Lunge

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

The low lunge is an interesting variation on the traditional lunge. With the feet closer together, the knees may feel less strain but the shorter range of motion really adds intensity. This is a great addition to your lower body program.

  1. Stand in a split stance with your feet close together (about two feet apart, one foot forward and one foot back).
  2. Hold weights in each hand and bend the knees, taking the weight towards the floor. This is the start of the movement.
  3. Keeping the abs engaged and shoulders back, push into the front heel and lift up about halfway.
  4. Lower back down and repeat for 1 to 3 sets of 10 to 16 reps.

Form pointers:

  • To make the movement smaller, start at the bottom and go about halfway up rather than standing all the way up.
  • Keep the torso bent forward throughout the movement while also making sure your back is flat and the abs are engaged.
  • Keep the front foot flat and stay on the toes of the back foot.

Lunge Deadlift

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

This combination of a lunge and a deadlift is a great way to work every muscle in the lower body, including the glutes, quads, and hamstrings. This advanced move will also challenge your core, balance, and stability so practice this move and concentrate on what you're doing to get the most out of it.

  1. Get into a lunge position with the back foot resting on a step or platform. Make sure the front leg is far enough forward that the knee stays behind the toe as you lunge.
  2. Hold light-medium weights in both hands if desired.
  3. Bend the knees and lunge down while simultaneously lowering the torso towards the front thigh and bringing the weights down towards the floor.
  4. Keeping the back flat, push back up through the front heel, straightening the torso and returning to a standing position.
  5. Repeat for 8 to 10 reps on each leg, completing 1 to 3 sets.

One-Legged Lunge With a Reach

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

Compound movements not only recruit more muscle fibers, which saves time, but also help you work on balance and stability while building strength and endurance. This one-legged lunge is a great example of that and one way to involve the entire body in one exercise.

  1. Place the right foot and shin on an exercise ball and hold a light-to-medium weight in your left hand.
  2. Bend the left knee into a lunge as you roll the ball out with your right leg until it's straight and the front knee is bent to about 90 degrees (knee behind the toe).
  3. At the same time, reach the weight out, keeping the abs engaged.
  4. Squeeze the left leg to roll the ball back to starting position.
  5. Repeat for 10 to 16 reps before switching sides.

Try this move without the weight first if you feel wobbly or do it without a ball until you feel more comfortable. You can also stand near a wall to hold onto if you need to.


Barbell Lunge

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

If you want to add intensity to your lunges, using a barbell is one way to go. A barbell distributes weight more evenly across your shoulders so you can lift heavier than you may be able to with dumbbells. To keep this move safe, only use a weight you can lift or have a spotter nearby.

  1. Place a medium-heavy barbell on the meaty part of your shoulders (use a bar pad if you need to) and take the left foot forward, right foot back in a split stance.
  2. Keeping the torso upright and abs engaged, bend the knees to lower the body towards the floor. Keep the front knee behind the toes and be sure to lower straight down rather than forward.
  3. Lower down as far as you can go without touching the back knee to the floor.
  4. Push into the front heel to stand back up, avoiding locking the knees at the top of the movement.
  5. Perform 1 to 3 sets of 8 to 16 reps.

Sliding Side Lunge with Weights

This advanced exercise targets the glutes, hips, thighs, and core all at the same time. By using a paper plate (or towel or disc) and sliding one leg in and out, you add intensity to the traditional side lunge. Taking the weights toward the floor engages the core, making this a dynamic exercise that will really challenge you.

  1. Put a paper plate under the left foot and hold weights or a kettlebell in your hands.
  2. Keep your body weight on the right leg and bend the knee as you slide the left foot out to the side, keeping that leg straight.
  3. As you squat toward the floor, keeping the knee behind the toes, take the weights down and touch the floor.
  4. Squat as low as you can and keep your back flat, abs engaged.
  5. Push back up, sliding the left foot in as you stand.
  6. Repeat for 8 to 15 reps and then switch sides, completing 1 to 3 sets.

Side Lunge with Kettlebell Lift

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

Adding a kettlebell lift to a traditional side lunge is a great way to add intensity and depth to your workout. Just make sure you send the hips back and keep your abs engaged to protect the lower back.  You can substitute a dumbbell here if you don't have a kettlebell.

  1. Begin in a wide stance holding a kettlebell or weight in both hands.
  2. Lunge to the left, keeping the right leg straight, shifting the hips over the left foot.
  3. Make sure to send the hips back to engage the glutes.
  4. At the same time, lift the weight straight up to shoulder level.
  5. Lower the weight, go back to start, and repeat on the other side.
  6. Do 1 to 3 sets of 8 to 16 reps.

Split Squat With Rotation

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

One way to really challenge your glutes and core is with this elevated split squat with an added rotation in the opposite direction. This is shown using a BOSU balance trainer, which is even more advanced. Try it on a more stable platform before moving to this version.

  1. Stand about three or so feet in front of a BOSU or step and place the right foot on top, resting on the toe.
  2. Pause to get your balance and take the arms out to the sides as you bend the knees into a lunge.
  3. As you lunge, rotate the torso, bringing the right hand towards the left foot and the left arm straight up overhead.
  4. Rotate back to start and stand up, repeating for 1 tp 3 sets of 8 to 16 reps.
  5. As you practice, try to do the entire movement in one smooth motion.
8 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.
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  4. McCurdy K. Technique, variation, and progression of the rear-foot-elevated split squatStrength Cond J. 2017;39(6):93-97. doi:10.1519/SSC.0000000000000319

  5. Gentil P, Soares S, Bottaro M. Single vs. multi-joint resistance exercises: Effects on muscle strength and hypertrophyAsian J Sports Med. 2015;6(2):e24057. doi:10.5812/asjsm.24057

  6. Graham JF. Exercise: Barbell backward lungeStrength Cond J. 2011;33(4):80-82. doi:10.1519/SSC.0b013e31820e6a7c

  7. Meigh NJ, Keogh JWL, Schram B, Hing WA. Kettlebell training in clinical practice: a scoping reviewBMC Sports Sci Med Rehabil. 2019;11(1):19. doi:10.1186/s13102-019-0130-z

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By Paige Waehner, CPT
Paige Waehner is a certified personal trainer, author of the "Guide to Become a Personal Trainer," and co-author of "The Buzz on Exercise & Fitness."