Health Fitness
Reverse Lunges Breakdown and Analysis

Reverse Lunges Breakdown and Analysis

The reverse lunge

The reverse lunge begins in a standing position with both legs together. To perform a reverse lunge, we must take a step back. Therefore, your first goal is to create momentum with one leg with a pendulum swing. This is how we take a step.

To begin the one-limb swing phase, your body must first shift its weight to one leg. That is, while standing you have 50% pressure on one leg and 50% pressure on the other. You shift a percentage of this pressure from one leg to the other. This is the definition of the phase of change. The switching phase is complete once the body has transitioned to single limb support (SLS). SLS is characterized by 100% of the pressure transferred to one leg.

Once the weight or pressure has been transferred to a single limb, the body accelerates the leg without pressure, thus beginning the swing phase. This acceleration is created through synapses between our brain and our muscles. Therefore, we have the neurokinetic force. The oscillation phase is characterized by its acceleration.

For the reverse lunge, the swing phase is through hip extension or behind the body. As the leg gains acceleration, neurokinetically, it gains enough acceleration to transport our HAT (head, arms, trunk). The acceleration in our HAT comes from the acceleration of the lower limb, which turns it into a locomotor apparatus. It is also important to note that movement here is measured by the change in the body’s center of gravity (COG) which is roughly in the pevicular region in the lower trunk.

We have completed the step once the moving limb (swinging) touches the ground. The moving limb then enters the initial contact phase which is the beginning of the deceleration process. The pull of the slowdown for our rocket scientist. The initial contact phase is also characterized by an increase in our base of support, so the body has more balance. (Also due to the fact that you have more limbs on the ground!)

Now that the back leg is in contact with the ground, the body begins to transfer pressure or weight to the back leg (weight acceptance phase). For a back lunge, the full body weight is NEVER fully transferred to the rear leg. {Side note: Total weight transfer would occur on dynamic reverse lunges, also known as backward walking}

As the body transfers weight to the back leg, it slows down (decelerates) the momentum it previously created to take the step. The SAME branch that sped up is now trying to slow down!


So if you wanted to too, you could stop all your momentum here. However, he would have simply stepped back. The reverse lunge is a continuation of this backward step, so not all of your momentum is stopped with the backward step.


Introductory training axis

+ X: Forward

-X: backwards

+ Y: UP

-Y: Down

+ Z: Left

-Z: Right

So I’ve stepped back, finally, and have momentum in the negative X direction (backward). I accept weight on my back leg or swing leg, thus slowing the momentum of the body. For the reverse lunge, I continue this -X deceleration while lowering my center of gravity. My COG is lowered (expressed as -Y) by flexing the knee joint.

In knee flexion, the hamstrings contract as the quadriceps are stretched. The hamstrings are loaded like pushing a spring down, while the quads are stretched to decelerate the force. {Muscle as described through deceleration phase}

The -X boost has completely decelerated once my knees have reached 90 degrees. This grade is the most mechanically advantageous for your muscle to produce force. And also slow down the force. This is the reason why heavy squares go 90 degrees in elevation.

You have now successfully lowered your COG once you have slowed all momentum. This is halfway there! Now, to complete the movement, you must accelerate back to position. Remember our spring loaded hamstrings and stretched quads? They are downloaded to create acceleration. Therefore, the acceleration of this movement occurs by contracting the quadriceps and stretching the hamstrings. These muscles then accelerate your loaded limb to create momentum to lift your HAT back into position (moving in the + Y direction). This is standing up. Note that the standing position easily decelerates the momentum of the lunge.

Muscle function

In the first acceleration phase of the reverse lunge (step back), the main hip extensors are activated. These are your glutes (all fibers) and hamstrings.

During the deceleration phase, your COG is lowered by flexing your knee. Therefore, your hamstrings contract and your quads are stretched. This is a common loading position and will create dynamic stability at the end of the swing. Also, due to the one-sided loading of the front leg, it will increase the stability of the hip, knee and ankle.

The return phase of the movement is motivated by acceleration due to hip flexion. The quadriceps stretch unloads and the hamstrings jump and stabilize the flex. {A much stronger acceleration than our previous hip extension}. The COG rises and we return to our standing position.

It is because of these muscle functions that the reverse lunge is said to be a one-sided exercise that works the deceleration function of the glutes and hamstrings. Or talk at the gym. Work your glutes and hamstrings!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *