Dumbbell Lunge Exercise Guide
If you want to target your buttocks in addition to developing your legs, then you just have to start lunging. Dumbbell lunge has become popular with those looking to tone, tighten, and shape their legs. Holding the dumbbells by your sides rather than over your shoulders (barbell lunge) makes it easier for you to hold your body upright. In the beginning, you can even do lunges with no weight at all, just practicing the leg movement.
The extra weight also calls upon the core muscles to provide stabilization during the exercise. You can use either a barbell or dumbbells. The barbell version tends to allow for greater overload because larger weights can be used. The demands placed on the different muscle groups will depend on your technique, but the gluteus maximus will work hard, as well as the quadriceps and adjacent muscles. This exercise may look easy, but don’t let it fool you.
The bigger the step, the more the gluteus maximus of the forward leg is used and the iliopsoas and rectus femoris of the back leg is stretched. A smaller step isolates the quadriceps of the forward leg.
Remember, take a short step (lunge) to target the quadriceps. A larger step places the emphasis on the gluteals and hamstrings.
Dumbbell Lunge Technique – Proper Form
1. Begin standing in an upright posture with your spine neutral, your chest high (out), and your shoulders back (so that your back is flat and your torso is erect). Position your feet approximately shoulder-width apart with your toes pointed straight ahead. Hold a dumbbell in each hand (using a neutral grip), with your arms by your sides ans your elbows extended.
2. Take a step forward holding your upper body upright. Descend under tight control by bending at your hips, knees, and ankles. Don’t lean forward at any point.
3. Descent until both knees reach an angle of 90 degrees. Your back knee should be directly under your hip and just off the floor. When your body is at the lowest point, pause, then return to the start.
You can perform a complete set on one side and then the other or work the legs alternately during the same set.
Dumbbell Lunge Exercise Video Demonstration
This video is designed to show you exactly how to perform dumbbell lunge using perfect technique (proper form) so you can get the most from this great exercise for the hamstring muscles.
- Main muscles: quadriceps, gluteus maximus, adductors
- Secondary muscles: hamstrings, front quadriceps
- Antagonists: iliopsoas, sartorius
Dumbbell Lunge – Tips & Tricks
- A stable, shoulder-width stance works best to maintain balance.
- Point your toes straight ahead or slightly outward as you step forward.
- Take a short step (lunge) to target the quadriceps. A larger step places the emphasis on the gluteals and hamstrings.
- Keep your shoulders back and your chest out so your back is flat and your torso is erect.
- Do not lean forward as you lunge.
- Keep both arms and dumbbells hanging straight down at your sides during the exercise.
- The lunge requires a lighter weight than most other leg exercises.
- During the lunge, your knee should bend 90 degrees, with your thigh parallel to the floor.
Dumbbell Lunge Variations
- Alternating dumbbell lunge – instead of performing all of your reps with one leg before repeating with the other, alternate back and forth – doing one rep with your left, then one rep with your right.
- Walking dumbbell lunge – instead of pushing your body backwards to the starting position, raise up and bring your back foot forward so that you move forward (like you’re walking) a step with every rep. Alternate the leg you step forward with each time.
- Reverse dumbbell lunge – step backward with your right leg (instead of forward with your left). Then lower your body into a lunge. This looks the same in a photo as the barbell lunge. Do all your reps and repeat with your other leg. You can also use the alternating technique, stepping backward with a different leg each rep.