Legs of steel: Discover the benefits of barbell lunges

Lunges is a lower-body exercise that can be found in most workout routines on any given leg day. Barbell lunges are a lunge variation that not only works those lower-body muscles but also has benefits for your core stability, muscle-building, and everyday activities. 

Barbell lunges are a cornerstone exercise for women, offering a comprehensive workout that targets essential muscle groups while promoting balance and coordination.

woman doing barbell lunges across the gym in multicolored leggings

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All you need is a barbell, some weights and your body. 

Muscles worked in barbell lunges

Lunges are a compound exercise that work large muscle groups in the lower body. The primary leg muscles worked during lunges are:

Quadriceps: The quadriceps are the four muscles on the front of the thigh. They are responsible for extending the knee and helping to stabilize the knee joint.

Hamstrings: The hamstrings are the muscles on the back of the thigh. They are responsible for flexing the knee and helping to stabilize the knee joint.

Gluteus maximus: The gluteus maximus is the largest muscle in the body. It is responsible for extending the hip and helping to stabilize the hip joint.

Calves: The calves are the muscles on the back of the lower leg. They are responsible for plantar flexing the foot (pointing the toes down).

Core: Your core muscles are activated while helping you maintain your body upright.

How to do barbell lunge

woman doing barbell lunges across the gym in multicolored leggings
  • Stand up straight with your feet hip width apart and your chest up high. 
  • Grab a hold of your barbell and load some weight onto the barbell in order to place it on your rear deltoids. 
  • Start with your left foot in front of you and step back with your right foot until you are in a lunge position. 
  • Allow your right knee to hover above the ground and ensure your left knee does not go over your left ankle. 
  • Begin to place your weight in your left heel and drive upwards to return to the starting position.

Barbell lunge variations

A barbell lunge is an incredible compound exercise that uses numerous muscle groups at one time. 

Adding weight through the use of a barbell increases the tension placed on the muscles, which overall develops strength in the lower body.

Your training program should include different variations:

Dumbbell lunges are one of the most popular variations, but there are ways to spice it up. You can use a bar or switch it up with just your body weight. For an extra challenge, increase the reps or try lowering yourself to the ground slowly. 

Barbell lunges benefits

Lunges are a unilateral exercise, which means you are doing things one at a time. When you do a barbell lunge, you step forward with one leg first. That’s one leg doing all the work while the other stays back.

Improves lower body strength

The barbell lunge is a good exercise for strengthening your legs and glutes because it works multiple muscle groups at the same time. The primary muscles worked are the quadriceps, hamstrings and glutes. 

Tightens your glutes

Barbell lunges are like a secret weapon for your butt. They help lift and shape it. You’ll have a nice, strong and perky butt in no time by adding weights and increasing them over time. 

Improve muscle imbalances

Correcting muscular imbalances is important to minimize injuries. You probably have muscular imbalances you aren’t aware of and go unnoticed because most of your strength training is done with both legs, such as with squats and leg presses. 

For me, my left leg and glutes are weaker than my right so I dedicate one leg day to total single-leg exercises to help improve the strength over time. 

Functional exercise

Barbell lunges are a “functional exercise,” which means they help you do real-life stuff better. Barbell lunges make your body stronger in ways that make activities such as climbing stairs and picking up toys from the floor easier. 

Increases stability and balance

When you do barbell lunges, you have to stand on one leg for a bit. This is like balancing on a tightrope, but not as scary. It helps your body learn to stay upright even when things get wobbly. 

Improves athletic performance

The controlled, explosive nature of barbell lunges can translate into increased explosive power, essential for activities like sprinting, jumping, and throwing. Lunges also improve muscular endurance, allowing you to perform at your best for longer periods without fatigue.

For even more lower-body exercises, you may like these:

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