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How to Do the Dumbbell Lunge

Work the Butt and Thighs with Weighted Lunges


Updated May 19, 2014

The lunge is basically a giant step. The exercise can be done without weights, with dumbbells held at the sides or at shoulder level, or with a barbell behind the neck on the shoulders. Lunges work the upper leg muscles and the muscles of the buttocks.

Find out more about weight training terminology and exercise description if you need background information before you try this exercise. Print a formatted copy of this exercise. See more dumbbell exercises.

The Starting Position

Dumbbell Lunge Start
(c) Paul Rogers
    1. Choose dumbbells of a weight that will enable you to complete the exercise sets you have chosen. Trial and error will be required to settle on a suitable weight. Start with a light weight.
    2. Stand up straight with a dumbbell in each hand. Hang arms at the your sides. Palms should face the thighs (hammer grip). Feet should be a little less than shoulder width apart.

    The Exercise Movement

    Dumbbell Lunge
    (c) Paul Rogers
      1. Take a big step forward (with either leg) while bending at the knee until the front thigh is approaching parallel to the ground, and the rear leg is bent at the knee and balanced on the toes. Don't let the knee go past the tip of the toes. This can aggravate the knee joint if done too much.
      2. Step back to your starting position and repeat the motion with the other leg, alternating legs until the exercise program set is complete.

      Points to Note

      • Although the lunge exercise can be done without weights, a weighted lunge provides additional work for the muscles, and for women in particular, provides the weight bearing exercise so important for bone health.
      • The exercise also can be performed with dumbbells held at the front of the shoulders, or with a barbell on the shoulders, behind the neck. These are more advanced versions.
      • For better balance, don't lift the rear foot too far onto the toes until you get a feel for this exercise. You'll get better as you practice.
      • Remember: Don't move the knee past the tips of the toes.
      • This is a good exercise to include in a circuit-training program workout.

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