Master the Move: Reverse Lunge

By Micaela Young |

Strengthen your lower body and build a stable foundation with this effective exercise. Here’s how to do it seated or standing.

Your legs and hips are the foundation of a strong, stable body. They propel you anytime you take a step, help you maintain balance, and make it easier to keep up with hobbies like biking or playing tennis.

If you don’t currently include lower-body strength exercises in your workouts, now is the best time to start—and the reverse lunge is a great move to try. It’s a powerhouse exercise that strengthens your entire lower body and core in one fell swoop. It’s also a single-sided exercise that is terrific for building stability.

One potential downside: For some people, the reverse lunge puts stress on joints. “I know it can be a little tough on your knees,” says SilverSneakers Master Trainer Andi. “I’m going to show you a couple of variations. Hopefully, you can find one that works wells for you.”

How to Use the Reverse Lunge

You’ll need open floor space and a sturdy chair. You can simply press play on the video above and follow along or check out the step-by-step instructions below.

Andi will begin with a reverse lunge from a seated position, and then she’ll suggest variations to make the move progressively harder. For example, you can stand up, add a toe tap, or let go of the chair for a balance challenge.

If you’re taking a SilverSneakers LIVE class, your instructor will guide you through the exercise, but feel free to use the variation that feels best for you. If you’re working out on your own at the gym, do up to three sets of six to 10 reps per side.

As always, safety is key. These exercises may be different or more advanced than those you’ll experience in a SilverSneakers class. If you have a chronic condition, an injury, or balance issues, talk to your doctor about how you can exercise safely.

Variation #1: Seated Lunge and Squeeze

From a seated position, turn toward the side of your chair, and anchor your front foot on the floor. Let your outside leg bend toward the floor. Make sure your weight is in the center of your chair. Sit with your chest up and your shoulders back and down.

From here, inhale and squeeze your glutes. Exhale as you release. As you squeeze, feel the work in your hip flexors and thighs.

Variation #2: Seated Lunge and Lift

From the seated lunge and squeeze position, place your hands on the seat on either side of your front leg. Put weight into your front leg and use the muscles in your legs to push up just an inch off the seat. Hold for a moment and then release.

Variation #3: Standing Reverse Lunge

Stand tall and place your hand on the chair for support. Shift your weight to one leg and lift the other knee up. Hinge forward slightly, stretch your lifted leg back, and place your toes on the floor. Find your balance here, and then lift your chest up tall so your shoulders are over your hips.

From here, keep your weight in your front foot as you bend your knees to lower down for a lunge. Exhale and squeeze your leg muscles to lift back up.

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Variation #4: Add Foot Tap or Knee Lift

Perform a standing reverse lunge. As you come out of the lunge, tap your back foot in to meet your front foot. If that feels good, lift your knee up. Repeat the sequence by hinging forward slightly, stretching your lifted leg back, and placing your toes on the floor.

Remember: Keep your weight centered between your legs so you can work your muscles, not your joints.

Variation #5: Adding Running Man Arms

Perform a standing reverse lunge with a foot tap or knee lift. This time, release the chair, bend your arms, and pump them gently as if you are running.

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