5 Benefits of Walking Lunges

Walking lunges are a great way to develop unilateral leg function, strength, increase leg hypertrophy, and bridge the gap between strength training in the gym and real-world movement and function. Below, we will discuss how to properly perform walking lunges (with a wide array of equipment and step placements) and uncover five benefits of walking lunges that every athlete and coach expect when performing them.

Walking Lunge Exercise Demo

Below is a video demo of the walking lunge, which can be performed with bodyweight, barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells, bands, and any other load. Walking lunges can also be done with a wide variety of step lengths, foot placements, and angles to pinpoint certain muscle groups and address more sport specific concerns. In this video, we look at the general guidelines when performing walking lunges.

Five Benefits of the Walking Lunge

The below benefits are a general overview of what can be expected when performing the walking lunge. Note, that depending on the loading, placement of the load (overhead vs backtracked vs no load), and the programming style of the coach, the walking lunge benefits may slightly vary. For example, front loaded walking lunges will challenge the quadriceps and anterior core greater than back loaded lunges, etc.

Unilateral Movement Development

All unilateral movements can work to increase joint and muscular function, movement, and enhance bilateral (two legs) movement patterns such as squats and pulls. In the walking lunge, the lifter must support themselves (while moving backwards, forwards, or side to side) almost entirely on one leg, making this a great unilateral movement to increase singular leg strength, address non-dominant vs dominant side dependencies, and increase bilateral performance.

Increased Range of Motion

The walking lunge can be modified based on the width and length of the step by the athlete, which larger steps increasing the demand for hip, hamstring, and ankle mobility while targeting the hamstrings and glutes to a great degree (as compared with shorter steps). The increased step will also increase the range of motion that is needed in the hips, knees, and ankles. By lengthening the range of motion, you allow the hips to gain mobility and control at the deeper end ranges, which can improve joint capsule and ties strength in athletes and aging populations.

Enhanced Functionality

As humans we move on two legs almost every second of every day. Failure to develop strength, balance, stamina, and muscle in the lower body places your clients and athletes at a great disadvantage when it comes to human movement. By integrating walking lunges into your leg training you can increase leg strength, movement integrity, and enhance overall muscular development (benefits of unilateral training).

Hip Mobility

Nearly every form of lunges can be used to strengthen and increase one’s hip mobility and performance. Walking lunges, when done in a variety of ways, can increase one’s ability to remain in control at end ranges of knee and hip flexion. By increasing hip mobility and strength at end ranges, you can injury proof lifters and help them gain strength and control in deeper bilateral movements like squats as well.

Glute Development

One of the major muscle groups worked during walking lunges is the gluteals, both the minimus and the maximal. The gluteals play a critical role in hip and knee stabilization, which is needed when performing unilateral movements, especially throughout a dynamic range of motion. When doing walking lunges, it is important to pay attention to the knees, as having them cave inwards (valgus) can place excessive strain on the ligaments and joints. By performing lunges, an athlete can gain a deeper understanding and resistance to such weaknesses and developer heather glutes, hips, and movement.

More Lunge Workouts and Articles

Take a look at the some of the most popular articles in our collection of lunge and unilateral leg training workouts below!

Featured Image: @madlymish on Instagram

Mike Dewar

Mike Dewar

Mike holds a Master's in Exercise Physiology and a Bachelor's in Exercise Science. Currently, Mike has been with BarBend since 2016, where he covers Olympic weightlifting, sports performance training, and functional fitness. He's a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and is the Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach at New York University, in which he works primarily with baseball, softball, track and field, cross country. Mike is also the Founder of J2FIT, a strength and conditioning brand in New York City that offers personal training, online programs for sports performance, and has an established USAW Olympic Weightlifting club.

In his first two years writing with BarBend, Mike has published over 500+ articles related to strength and conditioning, Olympic weightlifting, strength development, and fitness. Mike’s passion for fitness, strength training, and athletics was inspired by his athletic career in both football and baseball, in which he developed a deep respect for the barbell, speed training, and the acquisition on muscle.

Mike has extensive education and real-world experience in the realms of strength development, advanced sports conditioning, Olympic weightlifting, and human movement. He has a deep passion for Olympic weightlifting as well as functional fitness, old-school bodybuilding, and strength sports.

Outside of the gym, Mike is an avid outdoorsman and traveller, who takes annual hunting and fishing trips to Canada and other parts of the Midwest, and has made it a personal goal of his to travel to one new country, every year (he has made it to 10 in the past 3 years). Lastly, Mike runs Rugged Self, which is dedicated to enjoying the finer things in life; like a nice glass of whiskey (and a medium to full-bodied cigar) after a hard day of squatting with great conversations with his close friends and family.

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