How To Do A Lateral Lunge (+ Video)

By: Chris Freytag, CPT // September 29, 2022

The lateral lunge, also known as a 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 to your workouts to tone your lower body, improve your balance, and get leaner legs.

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    How To Do A Lateral Lunge

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    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 Lateral 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.” Lateral 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. Lateral lunges help tone and shape your booty and give you a nice, strong and shapely backside.

    Get Your Heart Pumping

    The side-to-side motion of the lateral lunge gets your blood 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.

    Lateral Lunge FAQs

    What Muscles Do Lateral Lunges Work?

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

    How Many Calories Do Lateral Lunges Burn?

    Most exercises, including lateral lunges, 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.


    Stability Ball Side-to-Side Lunges

    Stability ball side-to-side lunges is a unique lower body exercise that strengthens the legs and glutes while using the ball for upper body stability and to promote good posture. A stability ball is a great tool for balance, stability and so much more.

    1) Stand tall and hold ball between hands in front of you.

    2) Step right foot out wide and bend right knee to a 90-degree angle.

    3) Push off right foot to step back in.

    4) Step left foot out wide and bend left knee to a 90-degree angle.

    5) Push off left foot to step back in.

    Alternating Side Lunge Front Raise

    Chris Freytag demonstrating Alternating Side Lunge with Front Raise in a pink tank to with black dumbbells

    Like the standard lunge, the side lunge is a great way to tighten your glutes and legs. What’s different about this lunge is the lateral movement, which incorporates both inner and outer thighs along with the usual use of glutes and quadriceps muscles. Using all of these muscles together helps stabilize the pelvis, which helps improve core strength. In addition, lateral moves that strengthen inner and outer thighs also help strengthen the muscles that surround the knee joint. Combined with a front raise, which strengthens the shoulders and the chest muscles, this a total body exercise!

    1) Start with feet hip distance apart and dumbbells resting in front of legs with your arms long.

    2) Step out with left leg into a side lunge bringing the knee into a 90-degree angle but keeping the right leg straight.  As you lower into the lunge, lift arms to shoulder height in a front raise.

    3) Step back to center, slowly lowering arms, and repeat on the other side.

    Incorporating Lateral Lunges Into Your Workouts

    Lateral 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.

    Lateral Lunge Warm-Ups:

    Lateral (or 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

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

    Warm-Up #2: 30 seconds jump rope, 30 seconds butt-kicks, 30 seconds lateral lunges, 30 seconds, mountain climbers

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

    10-Minute Circuit Training Workout

    Lateral 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 them in your circuit training:

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

    Rest 1 minute. Repeat 2 more times. Stretch.

    Leaner Leg Workout

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

    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 lunges:

    Other Exercises Similar To Lateral Lunges

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

    Exercise Form, Fitness

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