You can work your leg muscles from many angles in different ways. Find out how to do lateral lunges and what they work.
Lateral lunges, also known as side lunges, are a variation of regular lunges where you take a step sideways instead of forward like with the regular version.
By doing this, the movement works your hip abductors and hip adductors (outer and inner thigh muscles) to a slightly larger extent.
At the same time, lateral lunges are still mainly a quadricep (front thigh) and to some extent glute (butt) and hamstring (exercise).
Keep in mind that you still want to implement the right reps, sets, and resistance for your training goals.
For more advanced lifters, that could mean doing lateral lunges with weights.
How to do a lateral lunge correctly
Take the following steps to do a lateral lunge:
- Stand upright with your feet together.
- Take a big step sideways with one leg. How far depends on details like your strength and flexibility.
- Slowly lower your upper body as far as comfortable by folding the leg you took the step with. Keep your knee above your foot and your other foot on the ground.
- Push your body back into starting position by stretching your leg.
- Complete your set on one side and repeat the same number of repetitions on the other side.
You mainly want to focus on keeping your thigh above the foot you took a step with.
Additionally, it tends to be a good idea to keep your spine straight during lateral lunges. Especially if you intend to add weights.
Lastly, if you are more of a resistance training beginner, you can start by only taking small steps and lowering your upper body a limited amount.
Muscles worked with lateral lunges
Some of the main muscles you work with lateral lunges are your quadriceps (front thighs), hip adductors (inner thighs), hip abductors (outer thighs), and to some extent your calves, glutes (butt), and hamstrings (back thighs).
Your erector spinae (lower back) has to work a nice amount during weighted lateral lunges too.
Compared to regular lunges, the lateral version mainly works your inner thigh and outer thigh muscles to a larger extent.
At the same time, you still work your quadriceps (front thighs) a lot too.
When it comes to how many lateral lunges you should do, the guidelines are similar to the regular version.
For something like muscle growth, you would do 3 to 6 sets of 6 to 25 lateral lunges on each side with a resistance that makes these ranges challenging.
If you need to add weights to do this, you preferably want to go for options like a weighted vest, dumbbells, and kettlebells where you can still use your arms for balance.
Benefits of lateral lunges
Lateral lunges offer a variety of positive effects.
Some of these are the typical lunge benefits but others are more unique to the sideways direction.
- Works your muscles: Lateral lunges make it easy to work your muscles in a way that causes muscle growth and strength progress.
- Harder to use momentum: Because you keep one foot in position, it is harder to use momentum instead of your leg muscles compared to something like walking lunges.
- Can improve flexibility and mobility: The sideways step can improve flexibility and mobility in your hips and the muscles around them.
- Helps avoid muscle imbalances: Working the muscles on one side at a time makes it so lateral lunges can help you avoid muscle imbalances.
- No equipment or location required: Many people will be able to get nice results from lateral lunges without investing in fitness equipment or a gym subscription.
You don’t necessarily need to stick to lateral lunges if you are interested in these benefits but they are a great exercise option.
Lateral lunge alternatives
You may also conclude that lateral lunges are not perfect for you either. In that case, you can consider some of these alternatives to lateral lunges:
- Regular lunges
- Lying side leg raises
- Standing leg abductions and adductions
- Bulgarian split squats
What muscles you want to target and what exercises you like doing will influence your decision between these lateral lunge alternatives.
Are lateral lunges a good exercise?
Lateral lunges are a good exercise to add some inner and outer thigh muscle engagement to the standard quadricep, glute, and hamstring training of regular lunges.
One potential downside is that lateral lunges are somewhat more challenging in terms of balance.
This could interfere with working your leg muscles optimally.
Additionally, you want to keep in mind that you still need to do good exercises with enough sets and reps to see your desired results.
Lastly, personal preference still matters too.
If you don’t like lateral lunges, there are many lunge alternatives and other exercises that can be effective too.