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Reverse Lunge vs. Forward Lunge

author image Maria Hoven
Maria Hoven is a health and fitness expert with over 10 years of expertise in medical research. She began writing professionally in 2004 and has written for several websites including Wound Care Centers and healthnews.org. Hoven is earning a Doctor of Philosophy in cell and molecular biology from the University of Nevada, Reno.
Reverse Lunge vs. Forward Lunge
Using dumbbells to do your lunge exercise increases the resistance. Photo Credit LIVESTRONG.COM

The lunge is a popular muscle-strengthening exercise that strengthens and tones your thighs and buttocks. You can perform forward or reverse lunge with your body weight only, or by using a barbell or dumbbells to add resistance to the workout. Although these two lunges are similar, there are some benefits in doing one over the other. Always consult your doctor before starting a new exercise routine.

Forward Lunge

Reverse Lunge vs. Forward Lunge
Proper form for a standard lunge. Photo Credit LIVESTRONG.COM

Execute forward lunges by standing straight with your feet together. Contract your abdominal muscles to stabilize your upper body. Lift your right leg off the floor and take a giant step forward. Slowly lower your torso by bending your left knee toward the floor. Lower until your right knee forms a 90 degree angle and your knee is aligned with your ankle. If the ankle is less than 90 degrees, you stepped too close and your knee is beyond your foot and not aligned with your ankle. If the ankle is over 90 degrees, you stepped too far and your knee is not aligned with your ankle. Push yourself upward and return to to the starting position.

Reverse Lunge

The reverse, or rear, lunge is very similar to the forward lunge and only differs with the direction of the step. As doing the forward lunge, stand straight and contracting your core muscles. Lift your left foot off the floor and step backward. Bend your right knee to form a 90 degree angle between your thigh and calf, while lowering your left knee toward the floor. Push yourself upward with your thigh muscles and return back to the starting position.

Muscles Affected

Both forward lunge and rear lunge target the same muscles in your thighs, buttocks and calves, according to the ExRx.net website. The primary muscles affected are quadriceps in the front of your thigh, gluteus maximus in your buttocks, adductor magnus in your inner thigh, and soleus in your calf. The hamstrings in the back of your thigh, and gastrocnemius in your calf function as dynamic stabilizers. In addition many core muscles in your abdomen and your back function to stabilize your upper body throughout the movement.


Although the muscles affected are identical between the two lunges, the reverse lunge can be a safer option. The reverse lunge places less stress on your knees because it is easier to form the 90 degree angle between your thigh and calf and to keep your knee aligned with your ankle. Doing forward lunges using the wrong technique, can cause knee pain due to the wrong angle between your thigh and calf. In addition, taking a step forward can make it hard to maintain stability because you are shifting your body weight to your leading foot, while during reverse lunge the weight is maintained on the forward leg that remains stationary.

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