What’s the best lunge for glutes?

Your glutes are the largest muscle group in your body. Lunges hit all of the major muscles in your posterior chain: quads, hamstrings, calves and glutes.

But with so many different lunge variations, it can be hard to determine what are the best lunges for glutes to help you build muscle and get stronger.

There are different ways to tweak the traditional lunge that can help.

woman in long sleeve shirt and black tights doing deficit reverse lunges in the gym

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It also helps that lunges can target all three of the major glute muscles: the gluteus maximus, the gluteus medius and gluteus minimus.

How to do lunges with proper form to target glutes

A common problem many have with lunges is keeping good form. To target your glutes you should:

Keep a neutral spine

Your back should never be rounded or arched when lunging. You can lean slightly forward in your hips so there’s not as much strain on your lower back.

Slight lean forward

To maximize your glute activation, lean slightly forward at your hips instead of keeping your torso upright. Leaning slightly forward allows you to increase the amount of hip flexion that occurs as you lunge.

Keep your knees from caving

Keep your knees in line with your toes rather than caving in.

Think of lunges as a single-leg squat, where you’re putting most of your weight into your glutes and quads. Keep your knees from caving in.

Rubber head dumbbells

A pair of dumbbells is a great and easy way to get in a strength training session. Pick a pair from 10 to 50lbs.

Best lunge variations

Lunges are unilateral exercises that can improve muscle imbalances.

You can include kettlebells, barbells, resistance bands and other equipment to up the intensity of your lunges or simply use your own body weight for this lower-body exercise.

Lateral lunge (side lunge)

woman in red long sleeve top doing lateral lunge in gym
  • Start with your feet shoulder-width apart holding a pair of dumbbells in your hands.
  • Take a step out to the side. Push your hips back and bend into your front knee until it creates a 90-degree angle. Make sure your opposite leg remains strong and straight.
  • The non-working leg should be mostly straight and the foot should still be in contact with the floor.
  • Once you reach the bottom position of the lateral lunge, push the floor away by exerting force into the ground and return to the starting position.
  • Repeat on the same side until all the desired repetitions are complete. Switch to the other side.

The lateral lunge is an important variation to include for those who do not currently have lateral (side-to-side) movements in their program because this plane of motion is generally neglected but offers many injury prevention benefits.

Forward lunge

woman doing forward lunge holding dumbbells in her hands
  • Grab a dumbbell in each hand and place your feet shoulder-width apart. 
  • Step forward with one leg until the thigh is parallel to the floor. 
  • Push through your heel and lift yourself back up to the starting position. Repeat on the other side.

Walking lunge

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. You can either keep your arms straight at your side or challenge yourself by adding weights.
  • Step your right or left leg forward, bend into your knee, and lower down while placing your weight into your front heel.
  • While keeping your bent leg in the same position, step forward with your opposite leg and repeat the movement.
  • Gather your balance and continue walking forward, alternating your legs into a lunge position. 

Walking lunges are good because you can do them regardless of your fitness level.

Reverse lunge

reverse lunge is the best lunge for glutes
  • Stand upright with your feet shoulder-width apart while holding a pair of dumbbells, or kettlebells at your sides
  • Lunge backward with your right leg as far as you can comfortably while dropping your hips downward.
  • Once in the down lunge position, push back to the starting position with both legs at the same time.
  • Repeat with the left leg.
  • Alternate legs for the desired number of repetitions.

Curtsy lunge

curtsy lunge is one of the best lunges for glutes
curtsy lunge is one of the best lunges for glutes
  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart
  • With either your right or left foot, step back and cross your foot behind your opposite leg.
  • Lower into the curtsy and keep your back heel up so your weight rests on the ball of your foot. The front knee should bend at a 90-degree angle. 
  • Lift up from the curtsy and return to the starting position. Repeat on the same side or alternate the curtsy between both legs. 

The curtsy lunge primarily targets the gluteus medius and minimus because of the rotation that occurs at the hips as the non-working leg crosses the body. 

Static lunge (Bulgarian split squat)

  • Stand straight and place your right or left leg back behind you so you’re already starting out in a slight lunge.
  • Engage your core throughout the move so you have better balance as you land.
  • Place your weight on the ball of your back foot and into your front foot. 
  • Lower your body until your back knee almost touches the ground before returning to the starting position

Deficit reverse lunge

woman in long sleeve shirt and black tights doing deficit reverse lunges in the gym
woman in long sleeve shirt and black tights doing deficit reverse lunges in the gym
  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart on a raised platform.
  • Shift your weight onto your left leg and lift your right foot off the platform and place it behind you and lunge down.
  • Keep your left foot flat on the raised platform. Lean forward slightly as you place your right foot behind you to maintain balance.
  • Drive through your left leg to create the power to return your right foot to the platform.
  • Repeat this on the other side.

The deficit reverse lunge allows for greater hip flexion, which means there is a greater range of motion for the glutes and hamstrings; which keeps them under tension for longer.

Jumping lunge

  • Start with your legs shoulder-width apart.
  • Take a large step backward and lower your hips, so that your back knee is just above the floor, and your front thigh is parallel to the floor.
  • Jump into the air and switch leg positions.
  • Jump again and return to the starting position.
  • Repeat the exercise until the set is complete.

The jumping lunge is a plyometric exercise that requires some explosive movement that gets your legs and glutes burning.

What is the best type of lunge for glutes?

The best type of lunge is one that you can perform through a full range of motion, doesn’t cause pain, and that you’ll do consistently.

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