Exercises that work two muscle groups? Great. Exercises that work three muscle groups? Even better. The step up with a reverse lunge is a supercharged legs exercise that also targets your glutes and core with almost no equipment—all you need is a step or bench.
“There is an element of balance involved, which forces you to engage more muscles,” celebrity trainer Lacey Stone tells SELF. This is where your abs come in—your body needs to engage your core to get you up and down from the step. Your core is a major stabilizer for your body, so engaging it keeps you from losing your balance during this exercise (and out of the gym, too).
“The elevation on the reverse lunge also gives you more bang for your booty,” says Stone. “In order to get up a level, your body is forced to recruit more muscles from your hamstrings, glutes, and quads.” This makes it a great booty-lifting move (if that’s a goal of yours), says Stone, and strengthening your hamstrings and glutes also helps prevent injury.
The cherry on top? Since you’re recruiting more muscles to get you through the movement, you’re expending more energy, so this move burns extra calories, she adds.
Here’s how to do it.
Step Up With Reverse Lunge
- Stand in front of a box or step, about one foot away.
- Step up with your left foot and drive your right knee up towards your
chest, engaging your core and keeping your shoulders back.
- Step your right foot back to the starting position and step your left
back into a lunge, lowering your knee toward the ground (make sure
your right knee doesn’t go past your right toes).
- Step your left leg back onto the step or box to repeat the movement.
- That’s 1 rep, do 12. Switch sides, and repeat for three sets total
During the exercise, you should have to focus to not fall, says Stone. If you’ve mastered that, you can also add an extra challenge by holding a set of dumbbells by your sides. The weight should challenge you—if you’re a beginner, try 15 pounds. If you’re intermediate, try 20 pounds. And if you really want to up the ante, try 25 pounds (or more!), she suggests. You can also test your stability even more by stepping up onto the flat part of a Bosu ball. Either way, you’ll be stepping up your workouts with this efficient move.
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