THERE’S A REASON some people cringe when they see lunges on their workout plan. The staple leg exercise can be brutal on the lower body once you rack up lots of volume. Still, this badass move plays a critical role when it comes to making unilateral leg day strength gains.

One variation in particular, the reverse lunge, is especially effective, since it can be easier on the knees. But you can step it up even more—literally. By adding some elevation to this already iconic move, we can level up the intensity.

Raise your front foot a few inches, and you’ll be doing a deficit reverse lunge , which will crush not only your quads but most of your lower body, says Men’s Health fitness director Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S.

Benefits of the Deficit Reverse Lunge

Standard reverse lunges train the big muscles of the leg, from your glutes to your hamstrings to your quads. By changing the height of your front foot placement, you’re going to increase your range of motion to add a deeper stretch. Your hips will be better able to dip even deeper, well below knee level.

That additional drop will provide an additional challenge, which will help to create greater glute and quad power each and every time you explode back to starting position.

And if you’re able to work with a larger load, you’re going to get some bonus core work in as well. Not only have your lower body be feeling the punishment, the additional weight will force your upper body to work harder as well. The increase in weight will force you to focus on keeping your shoulder blades back nice and tight while your hips and shoulders square and core tight throughout the lunge.

Who Should Do the Deficit Reverse Lunge

The deficit reverse lunge is a great move for helping build bigger squat numbers (it can work as a primary leg day movement). For athletes, deficit reverse lunges will help add explosiveness to your jumps, improve your running (think better hip extension) as well as a host of other overall athleticism benefits.

Even though there are a myriad deficit reverse lunge benefits, that doesn’t mean that everyone needs to immediately find a spot for this exercise in their routine.

Beginners may see greater benefits early on if you stick with the traditional reverse lunge. This is going to provide a friendlier knee angle to work so can get a better grasp on form. As always, it’s always better to master the basics before adding a new twist, or this case a deeper stretch, to your exercise.

How High Should the Platform Be for a Deficit Reverse Lunge

You don’t necessary need skyscraper-level heights to get all the gains from deficit reverse lunges. One or two (maybe three) weight plates stacked on top each other should provide adequate enough height. But as you progress, feel free to experiment with increased elevation to get an even deeper stretch.

How to Add Load to the Deficit Reverse Lunge

Body weight deficit reverse lunges will work, but adding weight will eventually provide you with a greater lower body (and upper body) challenge. Depending on your skill level, there are about three ways to most efficiently and effectively to add a bit of load to your reverse lunges.

Single Dumbbell/Kettlebell

For beginners, a single dumbbell may be all it takes to provide a solid challenge. Hold the dumbbell with your opposite hand of your elevated leg. This should be adequate amount of load to help work on stability.

Pair of Dumbbells

The most comfortable loading position would be holding a dumbbell in each hand. Here you can work with a greater load—obviously, it’s double the weight of a single dumbbell—which increases the challenge level.


This advanced move can allow you to work with a more challenging level of load while creating a whole new amount of stability work for your entire body.

Setting Up for the Deficit Reverse Lunge

The first part of setting up for the deficit reverse lunge is making sure your feet firmly placed on the elevated surface before starting. This means the entire foot, from your toes to the heel, are flat and secure, not dangling off the edge.

Also, keep your hips and shoulders square and to the front. This is going to place a greater emphasis on abdominal engagement—and there’s never anything wrong with a little bit of extra core work.


How to Do the Deficit Reverse Lunge

  • Start with both feet up on the platform.
  • Lift one foot up and off the platform, stepping back behind you into a rear lunge.
  • Allow the back knee to come as close to the floor as possible. When it comes to this move, one of the most common mistakes is cutting the depth of your back leg. If you’re stopping the movement at 90 degrees, you’re defeating the purpose of adding the elevation. Drop as low as possible, you should be nearly touching the floor to get that hip stretch this move was intended for.
  • Squeeze your glutes and drive at the top. You want to each rep to be powerful, so drive with power. Each rep, think about standing with power as you squeeze your glutes and drive with your hips.

When to Do the Deficit Reverse Lunge

Because it’s such a versatile exercise, deficit reverse lunge can be done as a primary movement for your leg day workout or as a finishing exercise, depending on your goals. If you’re going heavy, these can be done as your main leg day exercise, adding a move like goblet squats and trap-bar deadlifts can be a great way to shake things a bit in your workouts. It also makes for a formidable finishing move. Either way, you’ll walk away with a greater leg workout—if you’re still able to walk afterward.

Deficit Reverse Lunge Sets and Reps

The best way to work in deficit reverse lunges is to start with about three to four sets of eight to 10 reps for each leg. Take about a 30-second break after finishing one leg and repeat with the other.

Jeff Tomko is a freelance fitness writer who has written for Muscle and Fitness, Men’s Fitness, and Men’s Health.

Headshot of Brett Williams, NASM

Brett Williams, a fitness editor at Men’s Health, is a NASM-CPT certified trainer and former pro football player and tech reporter who splits his workout time between strength and conditioning training, martial arts, and running. You can find his work elsewhere at Mashable, Thrillist, and other outlets.

#Add #Elevation #Lunges #Effective

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