Forward Lunge vs Reverse Lunge


Now this is a little issue that has been on my mind for about the last week or so. The forward lunge vs the Reverse lunge. Two exercises that look very similar on the surface but target different muscles in the legs. Now if you were to tell someone  they will look at you like you’re crazy. IT is the same motion just one stepping forward the other stepping backwards.  But lets look at in-depth

Forward Lunge
 The Forward lunge from a standing position you want to step forward which will cause center of gravity to go forward as well when your front foot hits the ground your glutes, Hamstring, and quadriceps will contract eccentrically to slow your momentum hip stabilizers will fire to keep the knee in line.  As you descend down you will get more glutes and hamstring activation especially if you are pushing through your arch to heel on your front foot. Towards the bottom end of the movement you will get more glutes  and hamstring activation. On the concentric portion of the movement most of the work is through quadriceps. The last bit of the movement is knee extension. Think about when you’re doing dynamic lunges(alternating lunges) you have to kick a little with your front leg to get you back to the standing position. What major muscles are responsible for knee extension? The answer is quadriceps.  Many people usually don’t go the full range of motion in the Lunge and that is why they really feel the burn in the quads because they stay in the range were quad activation in greater. Even in the picture I believe the woman can go even further down and have her back knee touch the ground.  Front Lunges will target your quads better than Reverse lunges.

Reverse Lunges
 Lets take a look at the Reverse Lunge it start the same way as the Front long instead of stepping forward you take a step backwards.  First thing you notice is that you body starts to move in reverse. Second thing you notice is that it is a slightly slower movement. Let think about it for a second with the forward lunge you are shifting the weight from the back leg to the front. In the reverse lunge the weight doesn’t shift in the beginning instead the support leg( the leg that did not step back) has to control your body weight and lower you through the motion. As you lower yourself though the motion your glutes and hamstrings are engage immediately  to help lower yourself down.  You lower until your knee touches the ground then you stand back up. The up motion is completely different from the front lunge  The front lunge ended up being a pushing motion. The reverse lunge on the way back up is a pulling motion through the hip.  You are pulling yourself forward, it basically the same motion when your running and walk.  Hip extension is controlled by the glutes and Hamstrings.  Some people will argue that you push-off the back the back leg to get forward. Yes there is some help with a push to help get your momentum forward but I will argue that your hips are more involved in a reverse lunge than the front lunge. Why do you think women who want to tone they hips and buttocks do reverse lunges over front lunges.  IF you still don’t believe me grab some dumbbells and do a couple of sets of reverse lunges and tell me what hurts 2 days later. I bet it will be your glutes.

Conclusion

If you’re trying to make a decision between forward and reverse lunges it will depend on what muscles(movements) you’re trying to target.  If you’re going for a knee dominate  quadriceps movement go with the Forward lunge. If you are looking more Posterior chain movement then I suggest the Reverse lunge  it will hit your hamstring and glutes more.

Author: Smithfitness

A former basketball player now fitness professional. Alex holds a Bachelors and Masters Degree in Kinesiology and certified NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist(CSCS). Alex loves lifting heavy things repeatedly and going for long runs or rides and helping others achieve high levels of fitness and health. If you love fitness and health follow this blog and submerge yourself in all the fitness and health knowledge.

3 thoughts on “Forward Lunge vs Reverse Lunge”

  1. Nice post. The idea behind motor patterns and muscle recruitment can be very confusing to some so this blog will help clear it up for them on these exercises. I prefer reverse lunges for better glute activation as well as the ability to use more weight due to the stability issues you come across during heavy walking lunges. All can have a place in training though

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