How To Do Walking Lunges
Walking lunges inspire dread among gym goers for one simple reason: they’re hard. But that’s exactly why fitness pros love them, because they get results.
“I always enjoy the groans from clients when they realize walking lunges are on the menu for the day,” says Tom Biggart, DPT, CSCS, owner of EBM Fitness Solutions.
While the move itself is easy to learn, walking lunges challenge your balance, engage your core, and elevate your heart rate — all while setting your quads and glutes on fire.
What Are Walking Lunges?
The walking lunge is, essentially, a traveling forward lunge. Rather than stepping the lunging foot back to its starting position, you step the back foot forward.
When performed properly, walking lunges are an effective bodyweight exercise that can help strengthen and build your glutes and leg muscles. They can be used as a strength move in circuit workout, or — if you’re already pretty fit — as a dynamic stretch in a warm-up.
You can also make walking lunges more challenging with variations that add resistance — like dumbbell walking lunges, overhead walking lunges, or barbell walking lunges.
How To Do Walking Lunges
- Stand with your feet about hip-width apart and your hands on your hips.
- With a stride that’s a little less than double your normal walking stride, bring your left leg forward and plant your left foot.
- Come up on the ball of your right foot as you bend your left knee 90 degrees (or as low as you can comfortably go) and lower your right knee, allowing it to hover just above the ground. Your back knee should also be bent at a 90-degree angle.
- With your weight on your left foot, push off your right foot and straighten your legs, bringing your right foot forward to meet your left foot as you return to a standing position.
- Repeat on the opposite side, lunging forward with your right leg.
- Continue to move forward, lunging with alternating legs, for the specified distance or number of steps.
While doing walking lunges, be sure your back knee stays facing straight in front of you and doesn’t rotate inward, especially as you push off your back foot. Keep your chest up and shoulders back, and use your core for balance. For an added challenge, try walking lunges while holding weights.
Walking Lunges: Benefits & Muscles Worked
Walking lunges are easy to master, but challenging to do — and they can be a great addition to your workout routine. Here are a few key benefits of walking lunges.
“Walking lunges have many advantages, such as the ability to do them anywhere,” says Rebekah Miller, MS of Kinesiology, CSCS, NASM-certified personal trainer, and writer at Exercise.com. “They work many different muscles, and they can be varied by adding weight.”
You can also vary your walking lunges by speeding them up; adding a half-rep at the bottom; adding a twist or an isometric hold at the bottom; doing curls or overhead presses as you “walk”; holding a barbell overhead throughout the exercise; or doing them on an incline or decline.
- Lower body strength
In addition to engaging the core muscles, walking lunges target the lower body, including the quadriceps, gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, adductors, hamstrings, and calves. If you’re after more defined quads or a shapelier rear, walking lunges can you help you strengthen and build nearly every major muscle from the waist down.
- Functional fitness
Walking lunges are also considered a functional exercise, says Rachel Fiske, NC, NASM-certified personal trainer and advisory board member at Smart Healthy Living. Add walking lunges to your workout, she says, and not only will your overall fitness improve, but you may find you have an easier time with daily tasks like carrying groceries up the stairs or running to catch the bus.