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Dumbbell Lunges -
Build Muscle In Your Lower Body With These Awesome Variations 

Dumbbell Lunges

If you train your lower body with minimal equipment, adding dumbbell lunges and various lunge variations to your workouts makes perfect sense.

I'm Psymon H., the 50-something-year-old warhorse making his name from growing muscle and improving physiques with minimal equipment. In this "read-and-train article, we're going to delve into the dumbbell lunge exercise.

We'll discuss everything from what muscles are being worked during the exercise, how to perform the perfect dumbbell lunge, and how to step your game up with different lunge variations from walking lunges and the side lunge with dumbbells to the dumbbell reverse lunge and forward lunge.

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What Muscles Do Dumbbell Lunges Work?

Building the Quads, Gluteus Maximus, Hamstrings, and Calves amongst other muscle groups the dumbbell lunge is a multi-joint exercise that lengthens the muscles during the eccentric portion of the movement and contracts them during the concentric aspects of the movement.

An important note to make about the dumbbell lunge is that the longer the stride, the more the hamstrings and glutes are involved. 

Is The Dumbbell Lunge Effective?

There are numerous benefits to the lunge for both runners and lifters wanting to build muscle and strength. One thing that makes this exercise so effective is that several lower body muscle groups work simultaneously. 

Considered a unilateral movement because of the amount of work undertaken by the front leg compared to the rear leg, lunges challenge and improve stability, balance issues, and balance coordination while limiting strength imbalances between both legs since they have to do the same amount of work. 

Quad Exercises With Dumbbells

The Forward Lunge - How To Do Dumbbell Lunges Correctly

Forward Lunges

The Forward lunge is the most basic of all lunge variations and a great starting point if you've never done this exercise before. 

Items Needed: One pair of dumbbells 

Cue 1 (Starting Position): Start by standing with feet set shoulder-width apart and dumbbells in hand using a neutral grip. 

Cue 2: Lift your chest and maintain a flat back throughout the exercise.

Cue 3: Take a medium to large step forward and slowly lower down until your front knee is at a 90-degree angle to your ankle and your back knee is hovering over the floor. You should be on the toes of your back foot.

Cue 4: Push your front heel into the ground as you raise back into the standing position. As This is a dynamic movement, both feet should finish shoulder-width apart at the end of each repetition.

Quad Exercises at Home With Dumbbells

Do Dumbbell Lunges Build Mass?

With each set of dumbbell lunges, you should aim to leave no more than 1-2 reps in reserve. This means that after a set you believe that if pushed to carry on, you would only be able to carry out a further 1-2 repetitions before complete failure.

How Many Dumbbell Lunges Should I Do?

Try to keep reps between 5 and 20 repetitions per set. 

Dumbbell Lunges vs The Dumbbell Split Squat -
Are They The Same?

At first glance, the dumbbell lunge looks identical to the dumbbell split Squat. While the cues look the same, there is one significant difference. The lunge is a dynamic movement that requires you to step forward and back. The Split  Squat is a static movement that requires the feet to stay in the same position. 

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Dumbbell Lunge Variations: 

Side Lunge With Dumbbell aka The Lateral Lunge:

What are dumbbell side lunges?

This is definitely a side step up from the original forward lunge; and an exercise that puts major stress on quads, glutes, hamstrings, hip flexors, abs, and adductors. This variation can help improve your balance coordination and stability in your ankles and knees.

Items Needed: 2 dumbbells

Cue 1: Stand with feet hip-width apart and the dumbbells in front of you. Raise your chest and maintain a flat back.

Cue 2: Keeping your feet pointing forward and flat on the floor, take a wide step to the right side.

Cue 3: Keep your hips back as you bend your right knee and lower the two dumbbells in front of you. 

Cue 4: Push off your right foot to get back to the start position.

rdl with dumbbells

Quad Workouts With Dumbbells

Dumbbell Walking Lunges

The Dumbbell Walking Lunge is a natural progression from the step forward lunge and a lunge variation that demands a lot from your lower body, especially your quads, hamstrings, and glute muscles.

The major advantage dumbbell walking lunges have over their barbell counterparts is that it naturally brings the weight to your side, ensuring you maintain an upright flat back. Barbell tends to bring your upper body too far forward during the movement. 

Items Needed: 2 Dumbbells

How To Do Walking Dumbbell Lunges?

Cue 1: Start in an upright position with feet set hip-width apart and dumbbells in each hand using a neutral position. Lift your chest and maintain a flat back throughout the exercise.

Cue 2: Step forward with the right leg and let both knees bend together until your front knee is at a 90-degree angle to your ankle and your back knee hovers lightly over the ground.

Cue 3: Drive through your front heel and extend your knees until you are in the standing position.

Cue 4: Step forward with the left foot and let both knees bend together until your front knee is at a right angle to your knee. Drive through your front heel until you are standing and repeat on both legs for the desired amount of repetitions.

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Dumbbell Reverse Lunge - aka Reverse Dumbbell Lunges: 

Dumbbell Reverse Lunge

If you want to put more spite and effort into your Hamstring and glute development, the dumbbell Reverse Lunge is the lunge variation for you. The Dumbbell Reverse Lunge requires balance coordination and sure footing with every step back.

Items Needed: One pair of dumbbells 

Cue 1: Stand with feet hip-width apart and dumbbells in hand using a neutral grip. Lift your chest and maintain a flat back.

Cue 2: Keeping an upright torso, take a step back so that your back knee lightly touches the floor or hovers over the ground and your front knee bends at a 90-degree angle to your ankle. You should be on the toes of your back foot.

Cue 3: Push off the toes of your back leg and extend your knees until you are right back in the starting position. 

At Home Quad Exercises

DB RDL Exercise

Advanced Dumbbell Lunges

There comes a time when exercises become stale. To keep progressing, new and advanced dumbbell lunge variations need to be added. 

We've added three advanced dumbbell lunge variations for you to include in your lower body workouts so no matter if you want to build muscle or simply challenge yourself, you'll be able to take your dumbbell lunge to a new level. 

Platform Reverse Lunge: 

The Platform Reverse Lunge is vicious on the lower body from start to finish. The art here is to aim to get your back knee lower than the level of the platform to increase the stretch at the bottom of the movement and to give yourself further to travel on the way back to the top of the movement.

You can place even more stress on the vastus medialis muscles while strengthening the knees by using a "Knee over Toe" approach on every repetition.  

Items Needed:  low platform and one pair of dumbbells

Cue 1: Ensure that the platform is secure and won't tip over during the lunge by placing weight at the far end.

Cue 2: Start with both feet on the platform and choose which foot you will step back with first. Keep your chest high and back flat.

Cue 3: With dumbbells in hand using a neutral grip, carefully take a step back off the platform with your lunging leg. Ensure you plant your toes firmly on the floor before completing the full lunge.

Cue 4: Once in the extended lunge position, use your legs to help you drive up to the start position on the platform.


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Lunge Variation 2: Spring-Loaded Forward Dumbbell Lunges

Spring-Loaded Forward Dumbbell Lunge

Imagine taking a standard dumbbell lunge and adding additional force; now you have one of the best dumbbell lunges at your disposal. This movement stimulates growth in the Quads, Hamstrings, and Glute muscles.

Items Needed: One pair of dumbbells, Two heavy resistance bands, Velcro, and a sturdy upright anchor.

The Setup: Loop the first band to an upright anchor at hip height and use a wrist strap or Velcro to attach the second band. This exercise does come with a warning – Please make sure the upright anchor is secure and the Velcro strap can take the pressure of the two bands under tension.  If you don't have Velcro or a heavy wrist strap, you can loop the second band around the first band to create a knot, but this can be a bitch to undo once you’re done.

Cue 1: With the first band attached to the anchor, step inside the second band and have it resting around your Hips. Grab both dumbbells and step back until there is a good amount of tension in both bands. At this moment, you should feel as if you'll be catapulted across the room if you were to lift both feet off the ground.

Cue 2: (The Start of The Movement) Take a step forward into a front lunge with your front leg at a 90-degree angle.  Make sure to take your time with your foot placement so you do not lose your balance. Concentrate on the contraction in your front Quad and Glute.

Cue 3: Once you are in the down position, push back against the band as you begin to bring your front foot back to the standing position.

You should concentrate on doing one leg at a time and once you master the movement, you can alternate legs during a set.

While the dumbbells offer the usual stress on your Quad muscles, the bands give serious tension to both ends of the movement. When you step forward into the lunge, you will feel the band accelerate.  As you step back, you will feel yourself fighting the tension in the band as well as the gravity from the dumbbells

To maintain control of the movement, ensure you slow down. When it comes to a kick-ass dumbbell leg workout to initiate growth, the Spring-Loaded Lunge is one of my favorite movements.

Dumbbell Workout For Quads

Lunge Variation 3: Incline Knee Over Toes Dumbbell Lunges

Incline Knee Over Toes Dumbbell LungeEnd Position

Dumbbell lunges placed on an incline transfer additional stress on muscles surrounding the knee like the vastus medialis (aka -the teardrop). When you add a knee over the toe component, you strengthen the ligaments and tendons surrounding the knee joint. If you're new to this exercise, slowly work up to this advanced dumbbell lunge exercise.

Items Needed: A low platform or a bumper plate and two dumbbells.

Cue 1: Stand on the edge of your platform with your heels and drive your toes into the ground. Have the dumbbells at your side using a neutral grip. Raise your chest and make sure your back remains flat throughout the movement.

Cue 2: Working the right leg first, step back with the left leg into a reverse lunge. You should be on the toes of your back foot with your rear knee lightly touching the floor or hovering just above the ground. 

Cue 3: Lean slightly forward in the bottom portion of the dumbbell lunge so that your front knee travels over your toes. Bring the dumbbell forward so they are in line or just a little in front of your front knee.

Cue 4: Drive your front toes into the ground as you extend your knees and bring your feet to the start position.  

Thank you for taking the time to read our Dumbbell Lunges article

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