Small changes in your lunge form can turn this leg exercise into a butt-building move. (Artiga Photo/Corbis)
For people who want to build lean, strong legs, the lung has long-been the go-to move. But why limit this powerful exercise to sculpting one body part? “Simply changing the angle of your torso can help you activate different areas of your lower body,” said Nick Tumminello, owner of Performance University International and author of Strength Training for Fat Loss.
The traditional way of performing a lunge — torso upright, as seen in the photo above — will put most of the weight on the front of your thighs (quadriceps). Trouble is, most people are already plenty strong there, Tumminello told Yahoo Health.
An alternative: “For an all-around lower-body exercise, I recommend hinging at the hips to angle the torso forward about 45 degrees,” Tumminello said. Research shows that this shifts your center of gravity so that your butt muscles (glutes) and the back of your thighs (hamstrings) work harder. It’s also easier on your knees, Tumminello added.
Give either of the variations below a try. Perform two to three sets of 8 to 10 reps per leg. If you’re new to exercise, practice the movement with no weights or light weights to get the hang of it first.
Lunge with Forward Lean
Targets glutes, quads, and hamstrings
Photos courtesy of Nick Tumminello
Stand holding two dumbbells at your sides. Take a big step forward so that your front knee is bent at a 90-degree angle. Keeping your back straight, bend at your hips so that your torso is at a 45-degree angle to the floor. “You’re doing it correctly if your ribcage grazes the top of your thigh and your nose is in line with your toes,” Tumminello said.
Anterior Leaning Lunge
Targets glutes and hamstrings
Start standing, holding two dummbells at your sides. Take a medium-length step forward (smaller than you would for a traditional lunge) and allow your rear heel to come off the ground. Bend at your hips, keeping a normal curve in your back, until your torso is parallel to the ground.