One of the most effective exercises you can do to build both leg muscle and endurance. If you have read my R2R2R training plan you will know I’m a huge fan of lunges. With more than a few variants of the movement, today we’ll be looking at 2 of the most popular. Breaking down the difference between lunges vs reverse lunges. Getting into both advantages and disadvantages for both. So if you’re looking to get results, check out the breakdown below!
- Lunges and reverse lunges both target multiple muscle groups, including glutes, quads, hamstrings, calves, abs, and lower back.
- Both movements are unilateral, working each leg separately, which can improve muscle balance and benefit primary lifts like squats and deadlifts.
- Forward lunges emphasize the quadriceps and core engagement, making them suitable for those aiming to strengthen these areas.
- Reverse lunges are a controlled movement with less impact on the knees, making them a safer choice for individuals with knee concerns.
- Forward lunges mimic natural movement patterns and are excellent for building strength and endurance for uphill and downhill activities, such as hiking and running in mountainous terrain.
Lunges vs Reverse Lunges
What they have in common:
- Primarily target your glutes, quads, hamstrings, calves, abs, and lower back.
- Both movements are unilateral, working each leg separately.
Both lunges and reverse lunges are going to put a primary focus on the glutes. While also heavily targeting your hamstrings, quads, and calves. With the amount and angel of focus on these muscles being of the main differences (more below). They both also target both your abs and lower back. Especially at higher reps or when done with added weight.
The two movements are both unilateral. Meaning they will primarily target one leg at a time. These are going to work as accessory movements benefiting your primary lifts like squats and deadlifts. And more importantly will benefit your running, jumping, and muscle endurance.
Why they are different:
- Lunges place a primary focus on the quadriceps (front of the leg). As you brace and stabilize your body and lunge forward and lower your body.
- Reverse lunges primarily focus on the hamstrings (back of the leg). Which is used to control the body as you extend your back leg and lower into the lung.
- Forward lunges will place more emphasis on your core. Used to brace your body as you move forward.
- Reverse lunges are less impactful on the knees. There is less impact and the reverse lunge is more controlled movement.
- Forward lunges will have a more beneficial impact on your up and down hill hiking/running. They more mirror the natural movement pattern while building strength and muscle endurance.
Lunges and reverse lunges target different muscle groups and emphasize distinct aspects of your body’s stability and control. Lunges primarily engage the quadriceps as you stabilize your body while lunging forward, placing additional focus on your core. On the other hand, reverse lunges target the hamstrings as you extend the back leg and execute a controlled lowering movement, which is gentler on the knees compared to forward lunges. Forward lunges are particularly beneficial for activities like uphill and downhill hiking or running, as they mimic natural movement patterns and help build strength and endurance in those specific scenarios.
When comparing lunges vs reverse lunges there are few things trainers usually take into account. If someone has had knee issues or is just starting their fitness journey, then reverse lunges are a great workout to add into their routine. But if you’re already comfortable with fundamental movements and looking to build massive leg strength and endurance. Then lunges are movements I’d recommend for most athletes. Especially for runners looking to improve their performance in the mountains. Lunges (forward) are going to build both uphill and downhill strength unlike almost any other movement you can do in the gym. And are a major part of most of my race and hiking training plans.