Best Leg Exercises: Forward Lunges, Reverse Lunges, and Static Lunges

Lunges are among the best leg exercises, and you can perform them in many different ways. This page talks about static (or stationary lunges, forward lunges, and reverse lunges.

Like Squats, lunges are a must for athletes in running and jumping sports.

Lunges can also help people with many different fitness goals. Lunges can help to build leg muscles or tone the hips and thighs.

Lunges are Good for Men and Women

Sometimes in fitness women focus on certain exercises more so than men and vice versa. But every exercise is beneficial for both men and women. You simply will use different repetitions, weights (intensity), or rest periods to focus on endurance, muscle growth, maximum strength, or power (speed).

Lunges are a Functional Leg Exercise

One of the reasons lunges are such a great exercise is that they help to improve so many functions. Functional training is a fitness philosophy that says that if you want to improve a function you should choose exercises that closely mimic that function.

Lunges will improve walking, running, and jumping much more than a leg machine that only focuses on one leg muscle at a time.

Lunges help to strengthen the calves, quads (front of the thigh), hamstrings (back of the thigh), and glutes (butt). They also improve core stability, ankle stability, hip stability and balance.

Best Leg Exercises: Stationary Lunges

As the name suggests, your feet remain in the same place during stationary lunges.

When performing the stationary lunge, pick a distance that is comfortable, but be careful not to over stride.

Your front foot should be flat on the floor, and you should be on the toes of your back leg.

As you lower to the floor both knees should bend, and the pressure should stay towards the heel and ball of the front foot.

Be mindful that you do not shift all of your weight onto the toes of your front foot. As the weight shifts more towards the toes of the front foot extra pressure is placed on the knee.

Stationary Lunges are the easiest way to do lunges.

Best Leg Exercises: Reverse Lunges

Once you master the stationary lunge, you can move on to the reverse lunge. Reverse Lunges are a little more challenging because they require more balance and more hip control.

In the reverse lunge you start with both feet together and simply step back with one leg. In the reverse lunge the pressure is still concentrated on the front leg.

As you step back, reach back for the ground with your toes. Once your toes make contact with the ground simply bend your knees and perform a lunge and then step back towards the front.

You can perform all the repetitions on one leg and then switch to the other leg. Or you can perform reverse lunges in an alternating fashion.

Best Leg Exercises: Forwards Lunges

Forward Lunges are a very challenging variation because you must transfer all your weight to the front leg as you step forward. Because of this, forward lunges are generally much harder on the knees than reverse lunges or stationary lunges.

During forward lunges start with your feet together, then step forward with one leg and then bend your knees. When you come up step back so that your feet are together.

With forward lunges you can perform them while focusing on one leg at a time or you can do them in alternating fashion.


Lunges are truly great leg exercises, and you can use them to tone your thighs or get ripped legs. And if you play any running sports competitively or recreationally, lunges will help you run faster, jump higher and also help to prevent injuries.

Lunges and squats are the best overall leg exercises, so try to include them in your leg workouts when you can.

Yours in Health,
Dr. Charles PT/PT

Return the Best Leg Exercises for Overall Leg Strengthening