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9 Lunge Variations To Sculpt Your Legs & Tone Your Butt

Written by Shelby Torrese

Reviewed by Liz Brown

Add these 7 lunge variations to your lower body workout to strengthen your glutes, back, and legs & sculpt the booty of your dreams!

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If there’s one pain point I hear most often in the gym it’s usually about legs and booty. Women, especially, are set on working toward lean, toned stems and a nice, lifted backside. I can’t say I’m any different, either! Some of my favorite workouts revolve around lunge variations, which are known to help sculpt legs and tone butts.

When I tell clients that we’re going to do lunges, they almost always think of the standard lunge. You know, the one with one leg forward and one leg back, both bent at 90º. While that, of course, is a lunge, there are so many other types of lunges and lunge exercises! I am a firm believer that you can never get tired of lunge exercises because there are just so many to rotate through. Plus, they each target a different area of the body.

lunge variations

How To Do Lunges Properly 

It’s easy to see a picture or video of someone doing lunge exercises and think you know what to do, but to do them yourself is entirely different. I always suggest doing first-time lunges or lunge variations in the mirror the first few times, so that you can check your form.

Here’s what you want to look for:


  1. Take a big step forward (longer stride than walking)
  2. Keep your feet hip-width apart
  3. Engage your core and keep your back straight
  4. Keep your knees at a 90 degree angle at the bottom of the lunge
  5. Keep your front heel planted firmly in the ground and push through the heel as you return to your starting position


  1. Don’t let your front knee move beyond than your toe 
  2. Don’t crouch forward, hunch, or push your butt back
  3. Don’t let your rear knee touch the ground
  4. Don’t lift your front heel or push through your front toe

What Muscles Do Lunges Work?

Lunge exercises are known for sculpting legs and booty, but knowing specifically which muscles you’re targeting can help you get the physique you’re looking for. Depending on the types of lunges you’re doing, lunge variations can help to target:

  • Gluteal muscles
  • Quadriceps
  • Hamstrings
  • Calves
  • Back muscles
  • Abdominals
proper lunge form

Best Lunge Exercises For Women 

With so many lunge variations out there, I know it can be difficult to figure out what types of lunges you should be doing to reach your goals. I’ve compiled my nine favorite lunge variations for you to do to sculpt your legs and booty, and you’ll be seeing (and feeling!) the results in no time.

1. Static lunge

Static lunges set the stage for all the other types of lunges, so it’s important to get your form down in this one. This is where you can refer to the do’s and don’t list above. Get in your lunge position and hold for about ten counts, or breaths, on each leg, three times. Try and get a little lower and longer in your stance with each round.

traditional lunge

2. Side lunge (lateral lunge) 

This is one of those types of lunges that people forget are even considered lunges, because we step out to each side, rather than front and back. Stand tall, and then step one foot out wide with both feet facing 12 o’clock. In other words, don’t let the foot you step out with rotate open your hips. Sit your weight and booty back as you get low, and then step back in and switch sides. This not only helps sculpt inner and outer thighs, but also helps with stabilization and balance!

side lunge

3. Curtsy lunge 

This is the ultimate booty building lunge! Imagine yourself in a box. Standing tall, step your right leg back behind and outside of your left leg, as if you were trying to get your foot to the back left corner of the box you’re in. Shift your weight back and down, and get low with each curtsy. Return to standing and switch sides.

curtsy lunge

4. Reverse lunge

Reverse lunges are one of my favorite types of lunges. These lunge variations work your glutes, hamstrings, and your core! Start standing tall and step one foot back, long behind you. Once your foot reaches the ground, lower into your lunge. Make sure you’re tall in the upper body and not leaning forward in your lunge. Return to standing and switch sides.

reverse lunge

5. Switch lunge (plyo lunge)

Switch lunge variations can be a challenge, in the best way! These types of lunges are ones I’ll do to get a major sweat on. Start in a standard lunge position, and then hop up and switch legs, so that the opposite foot is now in front. While you want to keep switching between your lunges, make sure you’re pausing just long enough to nail your form down.

jump lunge

6. Split squat

Split squats are another killer! Each leg is working on its own and targeting different parts of your booty and legs. Start in a standard lunge on either side, and lower your back knee down just before it hits the ground, or as low as you can go. Return to standard lunge and pulse again, however many times you like before switching sides.

split lunge

7. Walking lunge

I can’t not think of ladies in the park when I hear walking lunges! Anyone else? All the moms in my neighborhood growing up would go to the park and lunge across the field while we played. This lunge variation is a cross between a standard lunge and a split squat. Give yourself some space to move, and step one foot out in front of you and lower into a lunge, then kick off your back foot and continue forward with your next lunge on the opposite leg. Keep going for as long as you can! 

walking lunge

8. Pulsing lunge

Pulsing lunges are definitely my least favorite out of the lunge variations, but only because they’re challenging! They will get you sweating and sculpted in no time. Set yourself up in a standard lunge, and begin to pulse at your lowest point. Remember, pulses should only be about an inch up and down, so if you notice you’re bouncing way high and way low, dial it in. This is a great one to do in front of a mirror a few times.

pulsing lunge

9. Balance lunge

Call me crazy, but I think balance lunges are so fun. These types of lunges are done with your back foot resting on a block or bench. I like to place my back foot on its resting place (again, you can use anything stable enough to hold your leg) and then hop my way out with my front leg. Once I’m at a comfortable, yet challenging, distance, start to lower down into your lunge. Repeat and switch sides.

balance lunge

The Bottom Line 

Lunge variations will challenge you in new ways and have you feeling so strong in no time. No matter what your goals are, each of these types of lunges will help you sculpt your booty and legs like never before! Grab a friend and get to it!

About The Author

Shelby Torrese

Nutrition, Movement & Meditation Coach

Shelby Torrese is a wellness enthusiast (and matcha fanatic!) from Miami, FL. She attributes her love of movement to her mom, a personal trainer, and her love of food to her dad, a farmer. She studied creative writing in college while getting her yoga certification, and went on to pursue fitness and nutrition in grad school. Her go-to advice is, “Balance,” and she is a firm believer that the ocean can cure just about everything.

  • Yoga Alliance Registered Yoga Teacher
  • NASM Certified Nutrition Coach
  • M.S. in Human Performance


Reviewed By

Liz Brown

Fitness & Nutrition Expert (CPT., FNS.)

Liz is a health & wellness expert, writer, and editor with over a decade of experience in the fitness & nutrition industry. She emphasizes research and simplifies complex topics to help make healthy living simple and sustainable. When she isn't researching and writing, she's sharing delicious recipes, easy DIYs, and home decor tips on her blog and social media.

More from Liz, visit: Personal Blog, TikTok, Instagram


  • NASM Certified Personal Trainer(since 2012)
  • NASM Certified Fitness Nutrition Specialist (since 2014)
  • Credentialed Coach Practitioner, Coach Training Academy
  • B.A. Liberal Studies (Health & Nutrition Sciences)
  • A.A. Liberal Arts (STEM)

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