Reverse Dumbbell Lunge (How To & Alternatives)
The Reverse Dumbbell Lunge is a great single leg movement that, in my opinion, is often underutilized especially compared to the much more popular DB Lunges.
Reverse DB Lunges come with additional benefits that DB Lunges do not, like reduced stress on the knees and they are an easier movement to maintain good posture.
In this guide, I’m going to teach you how to properly do Reverse Dumbbell Lunges, what the benefits are along with a few alternatives in case you need them.
How To Reverse Dumbbell Lunges
- Grab two dumbbells, one in each hand
- Squeeze the shoulder blades and engage the lats to create a stable back to help with bracing the upper body
- Once you’ve created enough room for yourself from the dumbbell rack (or wherever you pulled them from) you can begin the movement.
- Step backward with one leg, giving yourself enough room to be able to drop into a lunge comfortably without feeling overextended.
- Keep the chest as upright as possible and drop the back knee to roughly one inch from the floor.
- Now drive through the heel and midfoot of the front foot to drive yourself back up tall.
- Repeat on the opposite leg and alternate back and forth until all reps have been completed.
Coaching Points (Fixes to Common Mistakes)
When you step back, make sure to keep the feet shoulder-width apart. If you’re feeling very off-balance in your lunge there is a good chance that you are stepping the back foot directly behind the front foot (essentially placing yourself on a tight rope).
Keep the front foot flat on the floor when in the lunge position. One of the most common mistakes is raising up onto the ball of the front foot. One of the reasons for this is often the next most common mistake that I see with Dumbbell Lunges…
Make sure to take a big enough step. Often times I see athletes take way too small of a step. This leads to lunge being extremely cramped and can lead to a whole host of other issues (like coming up on the ball of the foot as mentioned above).
Benefits of Reverse Dumbbell Lunges
Single Leg Movements like Reverse Dumbbell Lunges are an extremely important addition to any athlete’s workout regimen, regardless of sport. (They’re also extremely beneficial for day-to-day activities for non-athletes as well)
Many (if not most) athletic movements are often done on one leg. This includes sprinting, jumping and cutting.
Single Leg Exercises help improve leg strength, balance, stability and also show any strength imbalances the lifter may have from one side to the other. Single Leg Exercises can also be part of the solution if and when an asymmetry is found.
Reverse DB Lunges have the added benefit of reducing some stress on the knees. Stepping backward takes away the forward momentum that is generated during regular lunges. This can make a notable difference in the amount of stress you feel to the knees.
They’re also much easier to maintain good posture. This includes a more upright torso and a more upright front shin angle. This can lead to much better overall body positions and reducing strain to both the knees and low back.
Reverse DB Lunge Variations
Reverse Dumbbell Walking Lunge
Just like regular DB Lunges can be turned into a forward walk, reverse lunges can be done ‘walking’ as well.
If you want to cover some distance instead of staying in place you can switch to a Reverse DB Walking Lunge variation.
When you step back into the lunge, instead of driving back to the starting position, drive through the front leg and push back to the rear foot. Alternate legs as you go until the distance or total reps are completed.
This version is more demanding than the in-place version (you may need to lower the weight slightly).
Reverse Dumbbell Lunge Alternatives
If you can’t do Dumbbell Lunges, for whatever reason (you don’t have dumbbells for example), here are a few alternatives that you may be able to try out.
Don’t have dumbbells? Or maybe you’re not able to grip weight due to a finger/hand injury.
In either case, you may be able to try Barbell Reverse Lunges instead. Barbell Lunge is the exact same movement but involves placing a barbell on the back similar to a back squat. You’ll get virtually all of the same benefits of the Dumbbell Lunge with a Barbell.
The only instance that I would hesitate against using Barbell Lunges is if the athlete cannot hold an upright torso. Some athletes, due to mobility issues, hinge forward heavily at the hip during lunges.
In these cases, I would recommend sticking with dumbbells until the lifter’s mobility is improved.
If DB Lunges are uncomfortable for you, then Dumbbell Step-Ups may be a good single leg replacement. Some athletes find that Lunges, even with proper form, to be hard on their knees.
Sometimes, Reverse Lunges may be a solution, but other times I’ll just have them switch to Dumbbell Step-Ups. It’s still a great exercise to get in the needed single leg work, but without the same amount of stress placed on the knees.
Another good single leg alternative for Dumbbell Lunges – that doesn’t require any equipment at all – is the Pistol Squat.
If you’re really good at them you literally need no equipment at all, but at most you’ll only need a box or chair to sit down to.
More Links and Info
If you’d like to see more Lower Body Lifts, head over to the Horton Barbell Exercise Library where I have a growing collection of step-by-step instructions all for free.