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How To Do A Curtsy Lunge: Step-by-Step Guide, Variations and Benefits


The curtsy lunge is an effective, functional, and compound exercise that hits your quadriceps and glutes. If you are looking to sculpt a curvaceous butt or to strengthen your thighs, then this variation of a lunge is your best bet.

Lunges are a staple for building a strong and toned lower body. The curtsy lunge takes it one lunge further by targeting your inner thighs. It works an array of muscles in your lower body which we will talk about in detail.

Apart from toning, a curtsy lunge can help improve your posture and stabilize your lower body. As a result, your legs will look aesthetic, symmetrical and increase your lower body strength allowing you to squat or deadlift even harder.

This guide will cover everything you need to know about curtsy lunges. It includes a step-by-step guide, common mistakes to avoid, and variations if you’re looking to up the intensity.

Let’s get started!

How To Do A Curtsy Lunge


A curtsy lunge is a bodyweight exercise that requires no equipment. However, there is a dumbbell or kettlebell variation you can do to strain your quads and glutes more.

Step-by-Step Instructions

  • Start off in a standing position with your feet hip-width apart.
  • Your hands can be placed on your thighs or kept at chest level.
  • Next, take a step back with your right leg and place it behind your left leg.
  • Bend your knee and lower down until your left thigh is parallel to the floor
  • Make sure your chest and back stay straight during the movement.
  • Now, drive back up to your starting position slowly
  • Alternate your feet and repeat the motion to complete one repetition


Curtsy Lunge Form Tips

During the motion, brace your core muscles and slightly lean forward. Make sure your upper body, back, and chest, stay straight throughout the movement.

Also, bend your knees till your thighs make a 90-degree angle with your calves. Your toes should be pointing forward.

What Muscles Does A Curtsy Lunge Work?


The primary muscles that feel the burn are your quadriceps and glutes.

All four muscles that make up your quadriceps are strained with this exercise. Working on these muscles greatly increases the explosiveness and strength of your quadriceps.

When it comes to your glutes. A curtsy lunge activates the gluteus maximus, the biggest muscle of your glutes, along with the gluteus medius and minimus. This exercise also strains the gluteus medius and minimus more than traditional lunges.

The secondary muscles are those muscles that aren’t directly engaged but still get strained due to their supporting role. When doing a curtsy lunge, your calves are also being used. Your calves are activated during the lowering movement, this stresses your soleus and gastrocnemius. These muscles work as a stabilizer, especially for the leg that is stationary.

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Common Mistakes During Curtsy Lunge


Hip Movement

It’s a general rule of any exercise. The muscles that aren’t meant to be used, should be stationary throughout the movement.

Make sure that your hips are kept square when lowering yourself down. This will keep the strain where it needs to be and keep you balanced during the motion.

Unnecessary Knee Extension

Your knees shouldn’t extend over your toes. The motion should be balanced with your knees going downwards and less outward.

When your knees cross the toe line, you are placing extra stress on your knees which can cause injury. Make sure your front knee stays in line with your ankle, this will help to properly distribute weight, minimize unnecessary strain and keep the stress on your glutes.

Half A Rep

Half a rep is equal to no rep. If you want to reap the benefits from every single repetition then make sure you are going down enough.

A general rule of thumb is that when you lower yourself your alternating thigh should become parallel with the floor. Also, lower your knee till it’s just off the ground.

What Are The Benefits Of A Curtsy Lunge?


Stronger Lower Body

The curtsy lunge is an effective variation of a lunge that powers your lower body. Remember, all your muscles work in coordination with one another. Life isn’t lived in the gym, your gains reflect your strength outside as well.

If a few muscle groups of your lower body are stronger than others, then others will fall short to support the major muscle groups during functional movements. This is why your leg workouts need to be versatile that work not just the major muscle groups but the hard to activate spots as well.

Whether you are trying to deadlift or squat more or play football, curtsy lunges help you develop muscles in your inner thighs that are hard to activate.

Improved Balance & Stability

The criss-cross motion engages your core, hips, quads, calves, and ankles. All these muscles help in stabilizing your lower body. The curtsy lunge will train your muscle memory to get used to this movement.

This in turn will help increase control. The slower you go down, the more your body will get used to the motion. This practice will help build a connection between your body and mind. Once, the action becomes seamless, your mind will learn to balance itself in a new position and your muscles will be strong enough to help.

Curtsy Lunge Variations & Alternatives


If you have gotten the hang of the basic curtsy lunge, it’s time to kick it up a notch. Adding dumbbells or a kettlebell to the mix is a great way to escalate the intensity.

Dumbbell Curtsy Lunge


The movement stays exactly the same. Instead of your arms being up at chest level or on your hips, they will be down by the sides holding dumbbells.

The form is key here as adding weights to mix can mess with your balance. Never lift more than you can handle as form should never be compromised on. Also, with the addition of weight, pay extra attention to your back and chest, they should remain straight throughout the movement.

Curtsy Lunge With A Side Kick


On your way back up, instead of alternating feet, you extend your leg out to the side. Once, your knee has gone all the way down. Come back up slowly. As soon as you are about to return to the starting position, kick your leg out to the side.

This added movement will be hard to master initially. However, it’s great for working on flexibility, balance, and stability.

Barbell Lunge


Coming back to the traditional weighted lunges. The barbell lunge is an effective strength-building exercise.

Fix a barbell with an appropriate amount of weight. Next, face the rack and place the barbell on your shoulders. Now, lower your knee down until it’s off the floor and the alternating thigh is parallel to the floor.

Lunge Jumps


This is another bodyweight lunge variation. It’s quite simple but will add explosive power to your lower body. The variation adds a jump when you are returning to your rest position.

So, when your knee has been lowered, instead of slowly rising up, push yourself up into a jump and then lower down with the alternating knee.

If you do this fast enough, a few sets will be enough to set your thighs ablaze.

Reverse Lunge Hold


Okay, this variation really burns your buttocks, thighs, and even calves. Hit a reverse lunge and then just hold and then keep on holding for some more. When you hold a movement in which your muscles are activated, every second becomes more and more difficult.

Your muscles are meant to contract and relax. Keeping them in a constant state of contraction can lead to an increase in muscle mass and strength.

Lateral Lunges


Lateral lunges are like a curtsy lunge but to the side. Instead of a forward motion, your leg will shift to the side.

Push your leg to the side, but not too far to strain your groin or other muscles to injury. This is a tough variation as this movement is not something our muscles are accustomed to.

Key Takeaway

A leg workout for women is entirely incomplete without a curtsy lunge. Not only is it an effective exercise to tone your lower body, it helps to build functional strength, increases stability and stabilization.

If your life is fast paced, your legs need to be able to keep up. Strong legs also help fight age-related bone disorders and pains. This exercise is easy to master as the form isn’t complicated. You can also heat up the intensity by adding a few variations to your mix.

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