How To Do A Side Lunge


Chris Freytag demonstrating a Side Lunge

The side lunge is an effective lower body exercise that strengthens your quads, glutes and hamstrings while also targeting both the inner and outer thighs. By moving in a side-to-side motion rather than the traditional lunge motion of forward and back, you recruit your thigh muscles and also work on your balance and stability. This is a great exercise to add into your workouts to tone your lower body, improve your balance, and get leaner legs.

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How To Do Side Lunges

  1. Start standing with legs slightly wider than shoulder-distance apart and toes pointed forward.
  2. Shift your body weight to one leg bending the knee until it reaches a 90-degree angle and the other leg is straight. Glutes are pressing back behind you.
  3. Return to center and switch sides.

Benefits Of Side Lunges

There are many reasons you should incorporate side lunges into your workouts. Here are just a few:

Work Your Outer Thighs

There are so many leg exercises available including dozens of different types of squats and just as many lunges. Side lunges are unique in the way they tone and shape your outer thighs, or abductors. Many people become frustrated with their outer thighs when it seems nothing works to eliminate those extra pockets of fat, or “saddlebags.”

Side lunges will help decrease the appearance of saddlebags because they activate those outer thigh muscles directly.

Work Your Glutes

Although you are lunging sideways, the weight of your body is sitting back into your glutes. Side lunges help tone and shape your booty and give you a nice, strong and shapely backside. No saggy, flat butts here!

Get Your Heart Pumping

The side-to-side motion of the side lunge gets your moving and your heart pumping. You’ll reap the cardio benefits of side lunges, especially if you add extra weights or resistance. Time for a calorie burn? Side lunges do the trick.

Improves Balance And Stability

Since you are moving your body in a side-to-side motion rather than the traditional forward and back, you add muscle balance around the hip and knee joints, which helps you prevent possible future injuries.

In addition to preventing future injuries, this is a back friendly exercise because this lower body workout requires you to keep your back straight and your chest lifted.

What Muscles Do Side Lunges Work?

Side Lunges work your glutes, quads, and hamstrings. While traditional lunges also work these same muscles, a side lunge gives the bonus of tackling both your outer and inner thighs, also known as abductor and adductors.

So if you are looking to tone your legs, this is a great move for you. In combination with some cardio and good, clean eating, side lunges can help you create lean and toned thighs.

How Many Calories Do Side Lunges Burn?

Side Lunges, along with other most other exercises, will generally burn about 100 calories for every 10 minutes you are working. Just keep your intensity up and make sure you are breathing through your mouth.

Incorporating Side Lunges Into Your Workouts

Side Lunges are amazing exercises on their own, but they are even more effective when you incorporate them into other workouts. Here are some ideas to make that happen.

Use Side Lunges In Your Warm-Up

Side lunges are a great low-impact exercise that help you warm up for any workout. They help to:

  • Move you through a big range of motion to lubricate the joints and prepare your legs for work
  • Get your heart-rate up which helps prepare your body for your workout
  • Warm-up the muscles in your glutes, hamstrings quads and inner thighs

Side Lunge Warm-Ups:

Warm-Up Idea #1: 10 Side Lunges (5 per side), 10 squats, 10 mummy kicks, 10 hip circles

Warm-Up #2: 30 seconds jumprope, 30 seconds butt-kicks, 30 seconds side lunges, 30 seconds, mountain climbers

Warm-Up #3: 20 mountain climbers, 10 side lunges, 5 push-ups, 10 jumping jacks

Use Side Lunges In Your Circuit Training

Side lunges are a great exercise to incorporate in your circuit training because they’re bodyweight-only, making it simple to transition to them from other exercises quickly. Here are a few ways to use side lunges in your circuit training:

10-Minute Circuit Training Workout

Move directly from one exercise to the next with no break. Rest for 1 minute, then repeat the sequence 2 more times.

  • 30 seconds side lunges
  • 30 seconds high knee run
  • 30 seconds push ups
  • 30 seconds burpees

Rest 1 minute. Repeat 2 more times. Stretch.

Use Side Lunges in Your Leg Workout

Side lunges are a must-have move in any leg workout. Here’s a fun leg workout you can do that incorporates side lunges as well as some other leg-toning moves:

Leaner Leg Workout

  • 10 Side Lunges
  • 10 skaters
  • 10 squats
  • 10 squat jumps
  • 10 forward lunges
  • 10 split jumps
  • 1 minute jumprope with no rope

Repeat this cycle 3 times. Combined with weekly cardio and clean eating, this leg workout will help you get lean and toned legs in no time!

Here are 3 more workouts for you to try that include side lunge:

Other Exercises Similar to Side Lunges

If you like the idea of shaping and sculpting your thighs, here are a few more exercises you’ll want to try:

Once you have mastered the side lunge with your body weight, add dumbbells for more challenging exercises or check out these squat and lunge variations for even more fun exercises.

Targets: glutes, thighs, hamstrings

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