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Muscles Used in a Curtsy Lunge

author image Rachel Nall
Rachel Nall began writing in 2003. She is a former managing editor for custom health publications, including physician journals. She has written for The Associated Press and "Jezebel," "Charleston," "Chatter" and "Reach" magazines. Nall is currently pursuing her Bachelor of Science in Nursing at the University of Tennessee.
Muscles Used in a Curtsy Lunge
Woman doing a lunge Photo Credit undrey/iStock/Getty Images

When you perform an exercise, you want to know it’s hitting all the right places. If you are working your leg muscles, you can perform a variation on the standard lunge position by performing a curtsy lunge. This crossed-over lunge helps to incorporate new leg muscles into the lunge position, giving you toned inner and outer thighs.

How It Works

To understand how the curtsy lunge tones your lower body, you must first know how to properly perform one. Start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart and your hands on your hips for stability. Use your left leg to take a large step back and across to the right. Squat so your right thigh is parallel with the ground. Push off with your left leg to straighten your legs and return to your starting position. For an added challenge to your body, hold hand weights in each hand.


Your quadriceps muscles are the four muscles located at the front of your thigh. You activate these muscles when you lunge, lengthening and shortening them as you squat and stand, respectively. The quads are especially used in your front leg when you perform a curtsy lunge because you need these muscles to help straighten your legs when you return to your starting position.


The curtsy lunge is sometimes called the glute activation lunge. The gluteal muscles include the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius and gluteus minimus. The gluteus minimus muscles also are known as the hip abductors because they are used to pull the leg toward your body. You will find these muscles more on the side of your buttocks. The curtsy lunge activates the glutes in a unique way because it targets these abductor muscles, while a standard lunge targets mostly the gluteus maximus.


The soleus and gastrocnemius muscles are located in the back of the lower leg and are often collectively referred to as the calf muscles. In the curtsy lunge, these muscles act as the stabilizers, particularly in the leg located behind you. When you push off on this leg to return to your starting position, you are using your calf muscles. Alternating the exercise between your right and left leg ensures you tone these muscles evenly.

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