What Muscles Do Curtsy Lunges Work?

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There are many ways to do lunges. These can vary in terms of what areas they target. Find out what muscles curtsy lunges work.

The main muscles you work with curtsy lunges are your quadriceps (front thighs), glutes (butt), hamstrings (back thighs), hip abductors (outer thighs), hip adductors (inner thighs), calves, and ankle muscles.

Besides these, core muscles like your abs, obliques, and erector spinae have to work to a small extent to keep your upper body upright.

Compared to regular lunges, curtsy lunges will mostly focus more on your outer thigh muscles, inner thigh muscles, and ankle muscles.

Which one of the muscles above you will grow and strengthen the most depends on things like their relative strengths and your exact curtsy lunge technique.

Keep in mind that you still need to put your muscles under enough pressure and do enough repetitions to actually see muscle growth and strength increases from doing curtsy lunges.

Primary muscles worked curtsy lunges

Similar to many exercises, curtsy lunges require many muscles to work to at least some extent. At the same time, some of these will have to exert more effort.

The primary muscles worked during curtsy lunges are your quadriceps (front thighs), glutes (butt), hamstrings (back thighs), hip abductors (outer thighs), hip adductors (inner thighs), calves, and ankle muscles.

Your quadriceps will be responsible for most of the upward force.

However, because hip abductors like your gluteus medius, gluteus minimus, and tensor fasciae latae are not the strongest, they will have to work a nice amount compared to their relative strengths.

The same applies to hip adductors like your adductor longus, adductor brevis, adductor magnus, pectineus, and gracilis.

Secondary muscles worked curtsy lunges

The muscles above will be responsible for the main movements but there are also others at work to keep your body in the right position.

More specifically, some of the secondary muscles worked with curtsy lunges include core muscles like your abs, obliques, and erector spinae.

These are responsible for keeping your upper body upright.

This does not require the most effort but it is worth mentioning.

Besides that, certain ways of doing weighted curtsy lunges will also engage other muscles.

For example, holding dumbbells in your hands will also require some work from your forearm grip muscles.

Do curtsy lunges build muscle?

Curtsy lunges are a resistance training exercise which means they can help you build muscle.

However, just doing this movement a few times will likely not offer you the results you want. You still need to implement enough resistance, reps, and sets too.

For muscle growth, you would ideally do around 3 to 6 sets of 6 to 12 weighted curtsy lunges with a resistance where you are just able to complete these sets and reps.

That being said, you could also build muscle with higher-repetition curtsy lunge sets. Potentially up to 50 reps per leg and more.

If you are interested in improving leg muscle endurance, the ranges are not as strict. You can just do more than the sets and reps above and/or use lighter weights.

In short, one of the benefits of curtsy lunges is that they can help you build muscle if you implement the right weight, repetitions, sets, nutrition, and rest.

One potential downside that is worth noting is that curtsy lunges can be challenging in terms of balance. This could prevent you from working your muscles enough for your fitness goals.

What muscles will curtsy lunges grow and strengthen?

You may wonder if you will grow and strengthen all of the target muscles in curtsy lunges.

The answer to that depends on how strong your muscles currently are and exactly how you do the curtsy lunge.

For example, an individual with strong quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings, and calves but weak hip abductors and adductors may only be able to grow and strengthen these last two muscle groups with curtsy lunges.

On the other hand, some individuals can grow and strengthen all of these muscles at the same time.

Additionally, if you really move your back leg sideways a lot, the outer thigh muscles of the other side will have to work extra hard.

This benefits muscle-building in this area but could make the curtsy lunge too hard to do with enough weight to train the other muscles.

In simpler words, you will likely not grow and strengthen all the muscles you work with curtsy lunges. Most people will mainly see these results in their quadriceps, outer thigh muscles, and inner thigh muscles.

Muscles worked curtsy lunges vs side lunges

Side lunges, also known as lateral lunges, are another variation where you step sideways. This will engage your muscles in different ratios than curtsy lunges.

To my knowledge, there are no studies comparing this different engagement (yet). However, I can make some predictions.

Side lunges also work your outer thigh muscles more than regular lunges. However, curtsy lunges will likely still work these, your inner thigh muscles, and your ankle muscles more.

In turn, you may find it easier to work your quadriceps with side lunges because they are less challenging in terms of balance.

Muscles worked curtsy lunge vs regular lunge

It can also be worth mentioning how curtsy lunges compare to regular lunges in terms of what muscles they work.

Curtsy lunges tend to work your outer thigh muscles, inner thigh muscles, and ankle muscles a lot more than the regular version.

In turn, you will likely find it easier to really work your quadriceps, glutes, and hamstrings with regular lunges because they are easier balance-wise.

You can do both exercises in slightly different ways to focus more on your quadriceps or glutes and hamstrings.

Muscles worked curtsy lunge vs reverse lunge

Many people are also interested in the comparison between curtsy lunges vs reverse lunges in terms of what muscles they work.

Reverse lunges are very similar to regular lunges in this area.

In turn, that means curtsy lunges and reverse lunges work similar muscles but the curtsy version focuses more on the outer thigh, inner thigh, and ankle muscles.

Because of the extra balance challenge, reverse lunges and certain other curtsy lunge alternatives tend to be better for training the bigger leg muscles like your quadriceps, glutes, and hamstrings.

Curtsy lunges are not necessarily better or worse than regular lunges for every individual. Which one is the best for you depends on things like your training goals, personal situation, and preferences.


Do curtsy lunges work hip adductors?

Yes, curtsy lunges work your hip adductors aka your inner thigh muscles. This exercise could even be enough to grow and strengthen these muscles.

Are curtsy lunges good for glutes?

While they do work these to some extent, curtsy lunges are typically not that good for the main glutes (gluteus maximus). On the other hand, curtsy lunges do work your gluteus medius and minimus to nice extents.

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Matt Claes founded Weight Loss Made Practical to help people get in shape and stay there after losing 37 pounds and learning the best of the best about weight loss, health, and longevity for over 4 years. Over these years he has become an expert in nutrition, exercise, and other physical health aspects.