Movement

Good Form: The Perfect Lateral Lunge

By Nike Training

Improve your core strength and balance by perfecting the lateral lunge.

Like any lunge, this single-leg strengthener builds muscle in your bum and quads. Find out how you can add this side-to-side variation to also fire up your inner and outer thighs.

Lateral lunges are an uncommon exercise, but the side-to-side variation is incredibly effective at recruiting muscles you're not used to working: your inner and outer thighs and hips. Use these tips from Nike Master Trainer Flor Beckmann to incorporate lateral lunges into your routine.

How to Do a Lateral Lunge

01. Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart and arms by your sides, to start.

02. Engage your abs as you take a big step out to one side, shifting your weight into this leg. Bend your knee as you send your hips back and come down into a squat position, extending the opposite leg out straight.

03. You'll have to lean forward a bit at your hips, but think about maintaining a tall torso, keeping your chest open and maintaining the natural arch in your lower back. Keep your feet planted and toes pointing forward. Clasp your hands together, keeping your arms in front of your torso.

Perfect Lateral Lunges and Variations

04. Push through the foot of your bent leg to return to the starting position. That's 1 rep.

05. Switch legs and repeat for the desired number of reps.

Muscles You'll Work

Like the forward lunge, this single-leg strengthener uses muscles in your glutes, quads, hamstrings and calves, as well as the inner thigh muscles (adductors and abductors).

Why You Should Be Doing a Lateral Lunge

  1. Lateral lunges get you moving in a different plane of motion. This improves hip mobility, flexibility and stability, which will help your overall athletic performance.
  2. Lateral lunges can be a better alternative than other lunge variations because they don't put as much pressure on your joints.
  3. You'll build up the musculature around your knees, ultimately strengthening your joints, stretch your hamstrings, which tend to be tight, and work your glutes and quads in different angles since you're moving side to side instead of front to back.

"Lateral lunges get you moving in a different plane of motion. This improves hip mobility, flexibility and stability, which will help your overall athletic performance".

Flor Beckmann, Nike Master Trainer

When to Do It

If you're a beginner, start by nailing your form (more on this below). Start with 2 or 3 sets of 8 to 10 reps per leg. Aim to perform quality reps (that means move slowly and maintain control) with just your body weight. If you're more advanced, you should still do a quick form check, then you can add weight, increase the amount of reps and sets, and start to add variations that'll up the intensity.

You can add lateral lunges to any workout at home or when you're travelling. Consider adding weight to maximise a strength-training session, or incorporate walking or jumping lateral lunges into a HIIT circuit to rev up your heart rate.

Regardless of what your workout is, spend a few minutes beforehand doing mobilisation drills to open up your hips and activation drills to engage your glutes to prime your muscles and range of motion.

Perfect Lateral Lunges and Variations

"Consider adding weight to maximise a strength-training session, or incorporate walking or jumping lateral lunges into a HIIT circuit to rev up your heart rate".

Flor Beckmann, Nike Master Trainer

Make It Easier

Move slowly and decrease your range of motion. Or do fewer reps and sets until you improve your balance and strength.

Make It Harder

Variation No. 1: Barbell Lateral Lunge

  1. Adjust a squat rack to your height, then load the barbell. Come underneath the bar so it's balanced across your upper back, assuming a mini-squat position as you grab the bar with an overhand grip. Brace your core and drive through your feet to unrack the bar, then take a couple of steps back.
  2. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and engage your abs as you take a big step out to one side, shifting your weight into this leg. Bend this knee as you send your hips back and come down into a squat position, extending the opposite leg out straight, keeping your feet planted and toes pointing forward.
  3. You'll have to lean forward a bit at your hips, but think about maintaining a tall torso, keeping your chest open and maintaining the natural arch in your lower back.
  4. Push through the foot of your bent leg to return to the starting position. That's 1 rep.
  5. Switch sides and repeat for the desired number of reps.

Variation No. 2: Dumbbell Lateral Lunge

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, arms by your sides. Hold a pair of dumbbells with palms facing each other.
  2. Engage your abs as you take a big step out to one side, shifting your weight into this leg. Bend this knee as you send your hips back and come down into a squat position, extending the opposite leg out straight, keeping your feet planted and toes pointing forward. Your hands (and dumbbells) should frame the foot of your bent leg and hover just above the floor.
  3. You'll have to lean forward a bit at your hips, but think about maintaining a tall torso, keeping your chest open and maintaining the natural arch in your lower back.
  4. Push through the foot of your bent leg to return to the starting position. That's 1 rep.
  5. Switch sides and repeat for the desired number of reps.

Modifications: Master the bodyweight lateral lunge, then add variations to up the intensity. Weighted variations include holding a barbell across your traps, dumbbells in either hand, a kettlebell (or dumbbell) in the goblet position (aka at your chest), or a medicine ball at your chest. To make this a more compound exercise, press the medicine ball out as you lunge to the side. If you don't have weights at home, pulse at the bottom of your lunge for a greater challenge.

Train With Us

Tap into the ultimate training resource with the Nike Training Club App. From expertly designed workouts to holistic tips on nutrition, mindset, recovery and sleep, NTC has everything you need to perform your best.

Perfect Lateral Lunges and Variations

Join Nike Training Club

Access our world-class experts and trainers for help staying active and healthy.

Perfect Lateral Lunges and Variations

Join Nike Training Club

Access our world-class experts and trainers for help staying active and healthy.

Related Stories

How to Fuel Your Kids the Healthy Way

Coaching

How to Fuel Your Kids the Healthy Way

Super-Human Strength

Coaching

Super-Human Strength

Family Freeze

Coaching

Family Freeze

Help Your Kids Fall in Love With Movement

Coaching

Help Your Kids Fall in Love With Movement

Strength Remix: Family Edition

Coaching

Strength Remix: Family Edition