3 Common Mistakes That Are Making Your Reverse Lunges Less Effective, According to Trainers

If you're doing pretty much any lower-body workout, chances are you're going to come across a reverse lunge. The reverse lunge is a key player when it comes to increasing knee stability and bringing that hurts-so-good feeling to your quads and your booty. Whether you're grabbing a pair of heavy weights for this move or taking it bodyweight-only, you'll find that you're instantly feeling stronger—as long as you're doing it the right way.

As senior instructors at Barry's and certified run coaches in New York City, Amber Rees and Lindsey Clayton know the importance of proper form for safely and effectively building strength. "Gaining leg strength helps you move through life when you're running, jumping, going up subway stairs—basically anything," says Clayton. And while reverse lunges can help with that, there are a few different ways she frequently sees people doing them incorrectly. Below, the two trainers reveal the three most common mistakes you might be making when attempting reverse lunges, plus what you need to know to be sure you're getting the most out of every single rep.

  1. Leaning too far back: The top reverse-lunge mistake Clayton sees is an excessive backwards-lean. Even though you are bringing your body backwards doing this move (since you're stepping one leg out behind you), you don't want your your upper-body to be too far away from your center of gravity. This, she explains, will prevent proper core engagement. Instead, you want to roll your shoulders back slightly so that they are away from your ears, and lean your upper-body ever so slightly forward. Firing up your core will ensure that you're in alignment as your lower body travels backwards, and that you are able to keep a watchful eye over your front foot the entire time.
  2. Turning your toes in: When you're doing a reverse lunge, you can't forget about your feet, which serve as the foundation for the whole move. Clayton notes that she sees a lot of "pigeon toes" in her classes, which means that your feet turn inwards towards each other. To ensure you're doing things right, you'll want to make sure both of your big toes are facing straight ahead (instead of turning in) so that your knees are tracking properly above your feet as you lower into your lunge.
  3. Improperly separating your feet: Toes aside, where you actually place your back foot is important, too. Make sure that it isn't too close to—or far away from—your front foot. Like Goldilocks, you wan't it to be juustttt right. Clyaton suggests finding the happy medium for the placement of your back foot so that you get a nice 90-degree bend in both legs, which will ensure that every muscle in your legs is firing properly.

The next time you head into a set of reverse lunges, go through this check list to make sure you're doing them in perfect form. When you keeping your shoulders back, hinge slightly forward at the hips, and land in the correct spot with proper foot placement, you'll feel every muscle in your body start to light up. Already a reverse lunging pro? Check out the video above to see how you can advance this move by adding a splash of cardio.

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