post How To Do A Curtsy Lunge (Proper Form & Variations)

How To Do A Curtsy Lunge (Proper Form & Variations)

Christiana Mikesch, CPT
Published by Christiana Mikesch, CPT | Senior Coach
Last updated: December 28, 2023
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As a seasoned fitness trainer, I advise clients that incorporating curtsy lunges enhances their fitness routine by targeting specific lower body muscle groups.

Acknowledging that mastering the curtsy lunge involves understanding its proper form, benefits, and variations, I conducted a week-long research and consulted other experts in the field.

I've compiled all my findings in this article to assist you in learning how to perform a curtsy lunge, understanding its benefits and variations, and seamlessly incorporating it into an effective workout routine.

Quick Summary

  • To perform a curtsy lunge, start by standing with feet hip-width apart, crossing one leg behind the other, and bending both knees in a curtsy motion.
  • Curtsy lunges offer variations like the curtsy lunge + side kick and TRX curtsy lunge that target several muscle groups for a complete workout.
  • According to research, adding lateral movements such as curtsy lunges to your routine can boost hip stability by over 30 percent, targeting muscles in your lower body that you might not have known existed.
  • In my experience as a fitness trainer, I've found that incorporating high-quality post-workout drinks into your routine can significantly aid your body in lunge strength training.

How to Make a Curtsy Lunge?

A person doing curtsy lunges at a gym

To make a curtsy lunge, you need proper foot balance, core engagement, aligned knee position, and controlled movements.

Here’s the exact procedure you must follow to perform a curtsy lunge correctly:

  1. Stand upright with feet hip-width apart and core engaged.
  2. Cross one foot behind the other at a 45-degree angle.
  3. Perform a lunge and keep your hips and shoulders squared.
  4. Push back up to standing, repeating on the other side for one complete rep.

Curtsy Lunge Variations

A person doing curtsy lunges at a home gym

Curtsy lunge variations involve slight modifications to the original exercise, targeting the same muscle groups from different angles. Incorporating the alternating curtsy lunge into your workout routine enhances the training experience. Here are a few variants:

1. Curtsy Lunge + Side Kick

Combining the curtsy lunge exercise with a side kick creates a powerful synergy of strength, balance, and flexibility. This dynamic variation specifically targets the glutes, hamstrings, and quadriceps while engaging the core and promoting cardiovascular health through dynamic movements.

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Start upright, feet hip-width apart.
  2. Step back with your right foot, bending both knees in a curtsy.
  3. Press into your left foot to stand while kicking your right leg out to the side.
  4. Return to your starting position.
  5. Repeat the series on the other side.

2. Barbell Lunge

A person doing barbell lunges at an outside gym

Barbell lunges, also known as bodyweight curtsy lunges, introduce weighted resistance to the traditional lunge, elevating both intensity and strength-training advantages. This exercise specifically targets the quads, hamstrings, and glutes while engaging the core muscles.

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Hold a barbell on your upper back. Use a grip slightly wider than shoulder-width.
  2. Go forward with your right foot.
  3. Descend until your front knee is 90 degrees.
  4. Drive through your heel to push back to the starting position. Repeat as needed.

3. Lunge Jumps

Lunge lumps give you a plyometric variation to the standard lunge. According to ResearchGate, these exercises are good cardio workouts promoting weight loss while enhancing power, agility, and balance [1].

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Perform a lunge with one leg forward and the other in the back.
  2. Lower into the lunge, then explode upward, switching your feet in the air.
  3. This is one rep. Continue alternating legs.

4. Reverse Lunge Hold

A person doing reverse lunge holds at the gym

The reverse lunge hold is a superb static strength training exercise that targets the lower body, focusing on balance and muscle control. It places less stress on the knees and activates the core, glutes, hamstrings, and quads.

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Stand straight, feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Step back with your right foot, lowering your body into a deep lunge.
  3. Hold for a few seconds before driving your right foot forward to return to start. Alternate legs.

5. Lateral Lunges

Lateral lunges offer a fantastic alternative to traditional lunges, incorporating side-to-side movement. They engage your inner and outer thighs, glutes, and hip flexors.

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Start with your feet hip-width apart.
  2. Step out to the right and shift your body weight towards the right, bending your right knee and keeping your left leg straight.
  3. Push your right foot to return to the starting position. Repeat on the opposite side.

Related: How To Perform Side Lunge Stretch

6. Dumbbell Curtsy Lunge

A person doing dumbbell curtsy lunges

Incorporating dumbbells intensifies and challenges the curtsy lunge, specifically targeting the glutes, hamstrings, and quads—key areas also addressed by the standard curtsy lunge. As per ResearchGate, this variation enhances grip strength and arm stability due to the added weight [2].

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Stand upright, a dumbbell in each hand at your sides.
  2. Cross your feet and bend your knees into a curtsy position.
  3. Push through to return to the standing position, then repeat on the other side.

Also Read: Best Dumbbell Quad Exercises

Workout Routine With Curtsy Lunges

A gym coach writing down a workout routine

The following routine ensures you’ll train the same curtsy lunge muscles as you were doing the traditional exercise.

Use it to try a new lunge variation and test which motions are better for you.


  • March in place: 2 minutes
  • Leg swings: 10 each leg
  • Walking lunges: 10 each leg
  • Hip circles: 10 each leg
  • Calf raises: 20 reps


  • Curtsy lunge + side kick: 3 sets of 12 reps on each leg
  • Barbell lunge: 3 sets of 10 reps on each leg
  • Lunge jumps: 3 sets of 15 reps
  • Reverse lunge hold: 3 sets of hold for 30 seconds in each leg
  • Lateral lunges: 3 sets of 12 reps on each leg
  • Dumbbell curtsy lunge: 3 sets of 12 reps on each leg

Why Training Curtsy Lunges?

A gym coach helping a gym goer with curtsy lunges

Training curtsy lunges is crucial for a well-rounded lower-body workout.

This type of exercise targets core muscles while enhancing balance and coordination.

These primary leg exercises also improve hip flexibility and address muscle imbalances.

Muscles Targeted with Curtsy Lunges

A person working out her lower body muscles

“GM (Gluteus Maximus) is the largest muscle in the body accounting for 16% of the total cross sectional area. GM assumes three basic functions, to act as both a local & global stabilizer and to exert force (to perform global movement at the lumbo-pelvic region) as a global mobilizer.”

- Badri Vishal, Master of Physiotherapy

The curtsy lunge is an all-encompassing exercise that primarily activates:

  • Gluteus maximus
  • Hamstrings
  • Quadriceps
  • Hip adductors

Common Curtsy Lunge Mistakes

A gym coach reading off a clipboard

Performing curtsy lunges correctly is vital to ensure effectiveness and avoid the negative impact of the worst exercise, such as injuries.

Here are a few common mistakes to watch out for:

  • Knee over toe: Ensure your front knee does not extend past your toes. This can put undue stress on the knee joint. Instead, aim to keep it directly over your ankle.
  • Poor posture: Keep your chest upright and shoulders back during the movement. Leaning forward puts unnecessary strain on your lower back.
  • Not going low enough: Descend until your leading thigh aligns horizontally with the floor, maximizing the curtsy lunge posture benefits.
  • Rushing the movement: The curtsy lunge should be performed in a slow and controlled manner. Doing the movement too fast leads to poor form and potential injury, as per ResearchGate [3].

In my experience as a fitness trainer, a common mistake I often observe is neglecting to engage the core during lunges. It's crucial to activate your core muscles to maintain balance throughout the entire movement.


Are Curtsy Lunges Effective?

Yes, curtsy lunges are highly effective. They work the main leg muscles that other primary leg exercises don’t.

Traditional Lunge vs Curtsy Lunge, Which is Better?

There’s no clear winner in a traditional lunge vs curtsy lunge showdown. Each serves unique purposes in a workout regime. The first one targets the quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings, and calves. The curtsy lunge targets the same but also emphasizes the gluteal muscles (gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and gluteus minimus.)

Are Curtsy Lunges Hard?

Yes, curtsy lunges are hard, especially for beginners or those unfamiliar with the movement. The complexity lies in the coordination required to move diagonally backward while maintaining balance and form.


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