by Wood M

Name of Exercise —Free weight lunge
Purpose —To develop strength in the legs and hips
Muscles Used —Muscles of the thighs and buttocks

Starting Position:

Note: This exercise can be performed using a barbell, dumbbells, or a weighted vest.

  • Grasp the bar of the barbell or dumbbell with a closed, overhand grip, or put on a weighted vest.
  • Lift the barbell and place it across your upper back/shoulder area just below the base of your neck, or hold the dumbbells with your arms at your sides.
  • Maintain your chest in an “up and out” position.
  • Pull your shoulder blades toward each other while keeping your head slightly up.
  • Position your feet shoulder-width apart and pointed slightly outward.

Forward Movement:

Free weight lunge
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  • Take one long step forward with one leg.
  • Remember to keep your upper body erect as the lead leg performs the movement.
  • Keep your back leg in the starting position, but allow it to bend at the knee as your body moves forward into the lunge. (Keep the knee 1-2 inches above the floor.)
  • Let the hip and knee of the lead leg slowly flex.
  • It is important to maintain the knee of your lead leg directly over the lead foot.
  • Balance your weight evenly between the lead foot and the ball of the back foot.

Backward Movement:

  • Once the forward movement is completed, forcefully push off the floor with the lead foot to return to the starting position.
  • In one fluid motion, bring the lead foot back to its position next to the back foot.
  • Perform the same movement with the other leg as the lead leg.

Trainer Tip:

It is important to take a very long first step to insure proper knee and ankle alignment.

Repetitions, Sets, and Weight:

The number of repetitions (reps) and sets you should do depends on your strength goals. In general, muscle strength works to increase basic function of the muscle and is the typical workout choice. Muscle endurance is important to people who participate in endurance activities, such as running or biking, and muscle power is beneficial for athletes who need to use sudden quick movements (eg, sprinting, basketball, football). Beginners should begin with a basic routine and gradually move toward a strength, endurance, or power routine.

Beginner : 1 set of 8 to 10 reps
Muscle Strength : 1 to 3 sets of 8 to 10 reps
Muscle Endurance : 1 to 3 sets of 15 to 20 reps
Muscle Power : 1 to 3 sets of 3 to 5 reps

Use a weight that is heavy enough to perform the desired number of reps and sets for your skill level using good form. Once you are able to perform more reps and sets than is outlined in your category, try to increase the weight you lift by 5% to 10%. Your strength goals may change as you progress.


Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning . 2nd ed. Human Kinetics; 2000.

News and Publications. American College of Sports Medicine Website. Available at:  . Accessed January 17, 2008.