If you hate lunges, know that you are not alone. For some people, the dislike comes from feeling wobbly in the split-leg position. For others, lunges tweak their knees. No matter your issues with the exercise, you can work your thighs and strengthen your legs with these alternative moves.
This simple move offers great benefits for your entire backside—upper back, glutes, hamstrings, and calves. Get ready to tone with both feet solidly planted on the floor.
- Stand holding a pair of medium-weight dumbbells in each hand, arms at your sides, with your knees slightly bent.
- Keeping your arms straight and knees slightly bent, slowly bend at your hip joint, not your waist, and lower the weights as far as possible without rounding your back, which should remain straight. Looking forward, not at the ground, will help you avoid rounding your back. Keep the weights close to, almost touching, your legs.
- Squeeze your glutes to slowly pull yourself up. Be sure not to use your back or round your spine!
Modification: To practice the bending motion, you can do this exercise without weights. And when you do, it’s called a good morning.
2. Sumo Squats
Also known as a wide squat or a plié squat, this position works the entire leg with special emphasis on the inner thighs. Many people find it easier to feel their glutes in this squat variation.
- Begin in a wide stance with your legs turned out and your toes pointed outward at 45 degree angles. Place your hands behind your head for more core work, or at your chest for a modification.
- Bend your knees lowering your pelvis until your thighs are parallel to the floor and your knees are at 90 degrees. Your knees should be in line with your second toe. Your back should remain upright—do not lean forward.
- Press through your heels to straighten your knees and return to standing.
— At the bottom of the squat, slowly pulse up and down in a one-inch range.
— Holding your squat, press your knees slightly back to work your glutes even more.
— While maintaining your squat, lift one heel and pulse up and down in a one-inch range and then switch sides.
3. Advanced Tabletop Bridge
This move really works the entire backside in a really stable position. Plus, it creates a nice stretch for the chest.
- Sit on the mat with your fingers facing away from you, with about 12 inches between your butt and your heels.
- Press through your glutes as you lift your butt off the floor, coming into a tabletop position.
- Keeping your spine straight, crease at your hips to lower your pelvis down to tap the floor to complete one rep.
Variation: Hold the tabletop position and squeeze the glutes, for 20 to 30 seconds, to work the muscles isometrically.
If you hate lunges because of the wobbly feeling of the split stance, squats will keep you feeling stable. To really work your legs to the full potential, we say go low.
- Stand with your feet wider than shoulder-width apart with toes pointed slightly out. Hold your hands at chest level.
- Keeping your back flat, push your hips back, bend your knees, and lower your body until your thighs are parallel to the floor and your elbows touch your knees.
- With your weight focused in your heels, push yourself up to the starting position.
Variation: Hold a set of dumbbells, a kettlebell, or a medicine ball at your chest to make this move more challenging.
5. Donkey Kick
You can work the backs of your legs without standing. Just be sure to not arch your back to raise your leg—that’s cheating.
- Start on all fours, with your hands directly under your shoulders and your knees directly under your hips.
- Slowly pulse your flexed foot toward the ceiling by squeezing your glutes. Your back should remain perfectly still in a neutral spine. The motion should be small and controlled with the muscle doing the work and not momentum.
— Rotate your raised knee outward slightly and make small pulses by raising your knee to work your glutes from another angle.
— Place a lightweight dumbbell at the crook of your raised knee to make the move harder.
6. Or try this 5-minute routine.
Here’s a five-minute workout video that will tone your glutes with a variety of moves while skipping those pesky lunges.