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reverse lunge with kick
Image by Andreas von Scheele
October 20, 2022
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Reverse lunges are a tried-and-true exercise for a reason: They're effective at strengthening the lower body, they're low impact, and they're suitable for all skill levels. So why not kick it up a notch? Literally!

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Here's how to do reverse lunge pulses with a kick, as demonstrated by fitness instructor and dancer Jessica Aronoff, CPT, plus tips, modifications, and more.

How to do a Reverse Lunge Pulse + Kick:

Image by mbg creative
  1. From a standing position, take one big step back behind you, pushing down through your front heel. Make sure the front knee bends right over the standing foot and tracks over the second toe.
  2. Find two pulses at the bottom, moving up an inch and down an inch. Imagine there is a Pilates ball in between your thighs and you're squeezing them toward each other. Press hands together in front of your chest.
  3. When you come back to standing, kick your toes forward, tossing the energy out of your toe. Make a long energetic line, extending through the back of your hamstring, pushing through your standing foot to find that balance. 
  4. Repeat on the other side for one full rep. Complete 2 to 3 sets of 8 to 10 reps.

Teacher tip:

Aronoff recommends paying attention to your breath as you do this move, specifically engaging your core in order to exhale purposefully—"almost like you're getting the wind knocked out of you."
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Tips & modifications:

  • If you're struggling to balance while kicking, you can omit the kick and just focus on the reverse lunge pulses.
  • You can also hold on to a counter or wall to help with balance.
  • To make this move more challenging, incorporate some extra pulses, dumbbells, and/or ankle weights.
  • Stand with your feet roughly shoulder-width apart, and try to keep that same space as you step your foot back.

What are the benefits?

As Aronoff tells mbg, not only does this move strengthen your lower body, but it counts as cardio, too. And as research tells us, cardio is excellent for brain health and mental health1—so this move is good for your noggin' as well!

In fact, one study published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology2 notes that aerobic activity in particular is a "powerful stimulus for improving mental health and for generating structural changes in the brain." Increased leg strength has also been associated with improved cognitive aging3.

And as far as the muscles you'll be working with this exercise, you can expect to feel the burn in your quads, glutes, calves, and even your core, when engaging properly.

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The takeaway.

We're all for simple moves that cover strength and cardio, and with reverse lunge plunges that's exactly what you'll get. Add this move to your next leg-day routine, or whip it out whenever you want to squeeze some movement into your day. In either case, you're sure to get your muscles working and your heart rate up.

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