Exercise Profile
  • Target Muscle Group
  • Exercise TypeStrength
  • Equipment RequiredDumbbell
  • MechanicsCompound
  • Force TypePush
  • Experience LevelBeginner
  • Secondary Muscles
    Calves, Glutes, Hamstrings
Target Muscle Group


Quads Muscle Anatomy Diagram

Dumbbell Lunge Instructions

  1. Choose a pair of dumbbells and stand up straight with a slight bend in your knees.
  2. Hold the dumbbells down at your sides. You are now in the starting position.
  3. Step forward with your left leg while maintaining your balance and squat down through your hips.
  4. Keep your torso straight and head up. Don't allow your knee to track out over your toes.
  5. Push yourself back to the starting position by using your heal to drive you.
  6. Repeat this movement with your right leg and then repeat for desired reps.

Exercise Tips:

  1. Never allow your knees to track out over your toes during this movement. Doing so will place undue stress on the knee joints.
  2. This exercise requires a good deal of balance and is not recommended for those with balance issues.
  3. Keep your head up and back straight throughout the exercise. Never allow your back to round. 
Posted on: Thu, 07/11/2024 - 02:04

How do I modify this exercise? Or maybe, replace? I have a bad right knee.

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Posted on: Thu, 07/18/2024 - 10:18

Hi Rona, I would say skip it until you speak to your doctor about the specific knee issue you are having. It would be irresponsible on my part to make suggestions without know what you are dealing with. If you happen to know the injury or issue in detail, that can help me if you really want some ideas.

Posted on: Thu, 06/13/2024 - 17:45

How large of a step do I take? I know my legs should be right angles but I don’t know how to do that intuitively without looking down

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Posted on: Mon, 06/17/2024 - 07:42

Hi Gary, I would suggest doing several reps with bodyweight alone and paying attention to where you plant the foot to get that right angle. Once you feel comfortable taking that step, then try doing it without looking. Once you feel comfortable with that, then do it with weight. It may take several tries to figure it out, but it will be worth it. Hope this helps, and thank you for reading M&S!

Posted on: Thu, 06/01/2023 - 09:09

I used to run for a long time and just got into fitness. So my legs have a "head start" I feel.

When I do this excercise, I use a lot of weight. Yet I barely feel my legs doing anything. However, my arm and shoulders hurt badly when I do this excercise for to long, due to all the weight.
Is this normal and can I fix this?

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Posted on: Sat, 06/03/2023 - 15:40

Your legs did have a head start, and you need to lighten the load by using less weight on the arms and shoulders. You can also wear a weighted vest or do a barbell version or a Smith Machine with the bar on your shoulders as if you were squatting.

Posted on: Tue, 01/17/2023 - 19:57

Can you do a step back lunge? Does it work the same muscles?

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Posted on: Sun, 01/22/2023 - 11:04

The quads aren't as emphasized in the step back lunge, but you can do it.

Posted on: Tue, 01/10/2023 - 08:14

I'm guessing the answer is yet but want to be sure. Is this 12-15 reps per side, for a total of 24 single reps? Same for the step-ups and anything else that is done isolating each side? Thanks!

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Posted on: Thu, 01/19/2023 - 15:40

You are correct, Kate. Hope this helps, and thanks for reading M&S!

Posted on: Fri, 10/07/2022 - 11:01

This uses my hamstring the most

Posted on: Fri, 04/01/2022 - 09:35

I feel pain in my forearms when I perform this exercise. Any advice or ways to adjust for this issue?

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Posted on: Thu, 04/07/2022 - 08:17

Use straps to provide grip support while you're holding the weights. If that doesn't work, then you should see a doctor about your issue.

Posted on: Sun, 04/18/2021 - 04:39

Do you have to do this whit your back straight bcz its very hard to keep my back straight

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Posted on: Mon, 04/19/2021 - 09:57

Hey Vilardas - yes, you should be keeping your back upright.

Posted on: Mon, 10/26/2020 - 16:52

Is there an another way to do this? I shattered my ankle many years ago and only have a certain range of motion. Can staying with one leg and moving up and down help?

Posted on: Wed, 10/11/2017 - 19:41

I'm not sure how many I should do and I can't walk well or my knees lock when I do 44. (12x2+10x2 for each leg). I use fairly light weights, should I do this for a while without weights to get used to it?

Steve Mulry
Posted on: Tue, 01/07/2020 - 04:16

Yes. Just do bodyweight version. When you feel ready, start using the lightest weight you have access to & gradually over time, keep increasing the weight

Posted on: Fri, 03/31/2017 - 14:09

I breathe too heavily during this exercise, limiting the no of reps i can do per set.
What's the breathing rhythm supposed to be like?

Posted on: Fri, 04/28/2017 - 14:20

OMG, i was just gonna write the same thing, then saw your comment.
Help guys!!..Either way i try breathing in and out...just dosent work

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Posted on: Fri, 04/28/2017 - 14:37

Hi Pumper,

Breathe in as you descend towards the ground and out as you rise back up.

Hope this helps!

Posted on: Tue, 01/28/2014 - 17:15

STEEEEEVE!! LOL. Steve is the Deez (Diesel).

Posted on: Sat, 10/26/2013 - 15:16

How do I know if I'm using enough weight on this, or any, excersize? Looking to gain mass so 3x12 is my target for reps.

Steve Mulry
Posted on: Tue, 01/07/2020 - 04:18

If it's easy, the weight is too light. If you can't complete the set & rep range, the weight is too heavy

Posted on: Mon, 08/05/2013 - 00:50

Yeah tell me

Posted on: Wed, 05/01/2013 - 12:55

When it says do 20 reps for this exercise does that mean 20 reps for each leg or or 20 reps in total for both legs?

Posted on: Sat, 10/26/2013 - 10:02

Read step 6 of the instructions. It indicates to perform exercise on both sides then repeat for each set. So it would be 20 reps on each side. 40 total lunges

Posted on: Tue, 11/22/2016 - 08:08

Honestly, it's up to you. It depends on the weight, it depends how you feel. 20 reps on a side is pretty nutso unless you're trying to cut or helping to supplement distance training. Standard since Wieder is to do 8-12 reps on a side for building muscle. Lower for super heavy days (wouldn't recommend for lunges, though, that's like going heavy on incline flyes) high for light days. Personally I do 12-15 reps a side with what I feel is light weight because I'm trying to make sure I will fit in my pants :) It's about what you want, what feels right, and what fits your goals.

Posted on: Tue, 04/23/2013 - 20:37

You should have a 90 degree angle at both knees. This video he does not step out far enough to get a 90 degree angle. Always make sure you can see your toes, you can damage your knees if you don't step out far enough. Stepping backwards will likely help receive that longer squat and would be a good modification in this exercise.

Posted on: Fri, 03/08/2013 - 22:33

Any reason not to step backwards like in this vid at minute 12.00


Posted on: Fri, 03/08/2013 - 22:31

Any reason you can't do a backwards step. I think it is kinder on knees. See this vid from minute 12.00.

Posted on: Fri, 01/11/2013 - 16:38

If you have bad knees I don't think it's a good idea to be using dumbells for leg exercises. Walking, yoga, maybe biking would be a prefer option. Also, talk to your doctor if you havent yet see what kind of exercises they recommend

Posted on: Sat, 11/10/2012 - 03:10

My knees are a bit out of whack (slight knock knee and other knee problems). This causes some balance issues doing these. Would the Deep Squat here: https://www.muscleandstrength.com/exercises/deep-squat.html be a good substitute?

Posted on: Sun, 10/07/2012 - 20:25

my knees and balance are not good. what alternatives (preferably machines) would you suggest? thanks.

Posted on: Wed, 02/06/2013 - 17:32

Light weight until you learn balance more over time.

Posted on: Sat, 10/06/2012 - 01:25

I have bad knees, Patella Knee Syndrome, what other exercise can I perform to replace the Dumb Bell Lunge

Posted on: Wed, 08/08/2012 - 02:38

do you have to breathe in and breathe out at a certain time?

Posted on: Wed, 04/24/2013 - 11:30

You have to breath every time you work between each rep. It helps you not get so light headed.