Curtsy Lunges: How To Do, Form, Risks,…

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There are many ways you can approach your leg workouts. Find out how to do curtsy lunges, what risks to keep in mind, and their benefits.

Curtsy lunges are a variation of the regular lunge exercise where you put your back leg sideways and behind the support leg instead of straight backward.

This modification works your outer and inner thigh muscles more.

A downside of curtsy lunges is that they can be hard on your knees. It also becomes harder to balance and in turn harder to add weight to the exercise.

More experienced lifters may have issues using enough weight in curtsy lunges to reach their training goals.

While curtsy lunges can be part of a good workout routine, for most people the small possible benefits do not outweigh the benefits.

Especially if your muscles are currently not strong you can put your knees at risk. At the same time, there are alternatives with a lower injury risk for training your inner and outer thigh muscles.

That being said, curtsy lunges can still help you build leg muscle strength and endurance. In turn, this can make curtsy lunges also good for fitness goals like losing weight, longevity, and athletic performance.

How to do a curtsy lunge

Take the following steps to do a curtsy lunge:

  1. Stand upright with your feet about shoulder-width apart. Decide which leg will be your first support leg.
  2. Slowly move the non-support leg backward and sideways toward and behind the support leg. At the same time slowly lower your body by bending the knee of the support leg. Ideally, both of your knees get to 90-degree angles but adjust according to your capabilities.
  3. At the lowest position, your front leg is bent and your back leg is behind and to the outside of your support leg. The foot of the back leg only touches the ground with the front foot.
  4. Push yourself up again into starting position by stretching your support leg and moving your back leg to the center. Your front leg will likely push most of the weight.
  5. Repeat the same number of curtsy lunges with your other leg as the support leg.
How to do a curtsy lunge

If you are new to curtsy lunges, you can start with repetitions where you don’t go as low. After these go well, you can consider deeper variations that work your muscles harder.

Besides that, make sure you implement more or less the same workout for each leg. This helps you avoid muscle imbalances.

Additionally, you ideally finish one complete set with one leg before doing the next one.

More advanced lifters can also consider doing curtsy lunges with weights. For example by holding dumbbells, kettlebells, a barbell, wearing a compact weighted vest, etc.

You preferably want to use no-handed or one-handed weights. These make it easier to stay balanced during curtsy lunges.

Muscles worked with curtsy lunges

Some of the primary muscles worked with curtsy lunges include:

  • Quadriceps (front thighs)
  • Glutes (butt)
  • Hamstrings (back thighs)
  • Calves

Some of the secondary muscles worked with curtsy lunges include:

  • Hip abductors (outer thighs)
  • Hip adductors (inner thighs)
  • To some extent core muscles like your abs, obliques, and erector spinae

When comparing regular lunges or reverse lunges vs curtsy lunges, the main difference is that you work your hip abductors (outer thighs) and hip adductors (inner thighs) more with the curtsy version.

That being said, curtsy lunges do still mainly focus on the quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings, and calves for most people and for the typical form of this exercise.

Keep in mind that you need still need to work these muscles with enough resistance, reps, and sets to see results from doing curtsy lunges.

Benefits of curtsy lunges

You can put the benefits of curtsy lunges into two main categories. In the list below, you can find the benefits of curtsy lunges over regular lunges.

  1. More inner and outer thigh focus: By changing the direction of your step, curtsy lunges work your inner and outer thigh muscles more. Some people will prefer this different muscle engagement.
  2. Harder to use momentum: Compared to something like walking lunges, curtsy lunges make it harder to use momentum. This could benefit your training of the main muscles you work.
  3. Balance and coordination: Curtsy lunges are even more challenging than regular lunges in terms of balance and coordination. This could also help you improve your skills in these areas more than the regular version.

On top of these very specific positive effects, you also get many of the more general benefits of lunges from doing the curtsy variation.

Potential risks

A potential downside of curtsy lunges is that a good amount of people will find them hard on their ankles, knees, hips, and/or back.

On top of that, the unique benefits of curtsy lunges are not that great either.

The combination of these things is that you likely want to stick to regular lunges and take a few minutes to do some hip abductor exercises to train your outer thigh muscles.

If you do decide to implement curtsy lunges anyway, you want to really pay attention to your body to notice if you feel any pains or aches.

In that case, you likely need to start with other strengthening exercises or make positive changes in other lifestyle areas before you can do a good curtsy lunge workout.

Curtsy lunge alternatives

There are some individuals that can consider curtsy lunges but many people want to choose one of their alternatives instead. A few of these are:

  • Lunges
  • Weighted leg abductions
  • Squats
  • Lying lateral leg raises
  • Step-ups
  • Bulgarian split squats
  • Clamshells
  • Deadlifts

What curtsy lunge alternatives you prefer depends on why you wanted to do this movement in the first place.

Is the curtsy lunge a good exercise?

Crusty lunges can be part of a good workout routine in the sense that they do still offer resistance training benefits if you can do them without issues.

At the same time, you need to know that many people will find this exercise uncomfortable in areas like their knees. On top of that, the specific benefits of doing the curtsy lunge variation are not that amazing.

In simpler words, while curtsy lunges can offer benefits, you can likely get these same positive effects with a lower injury risk by doing other leg exercises.

It is worth mentioning that personal preference still matters in a workout routine. If you really like doing curtsy lunges, you may enjoy workouts with them more and find it easier to do these consistently.


Do curtsy lunges hurt knees?

Curtsy lunges can hurt or at least feel uncomfortable on your knees. This will not always be the case but enough to consider other lunge variations or leg exercises.

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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.