The deficit reverse lunge is a compound exercise that builds strength and size in the hips and thighs.
Compared to the regular reverse lunge done on the floor, lunging from a raised platform allows for a greater degree of hip flexion, working your lower body muscles (especially the glutes) through a larger range of motion .
It’s also easier on your knees than some other single-leg lower body exercises.
Both sides of the body are worked independently, which helps even out any strength imbalances from one side to the other.
Compared with the squat, you also get less spinal loading, which makes it useful if a bad back stops you squatting as often as you’d like.
Because the reverse lunge involves stepping backwards, it can be tricky to keep your balance. If you’ve never done reverse lunges before, master the standard reverse lunge first, before increasing the range of motion by adding a deficit.
If you find it difficult to stay balanced, you can use a suspension trainer or gymnastic rings to provide additional support, and wear a weighted vest to add load.
Deficit Reverse Lunge: Form Guide
1. Stand with both feet on a raised platform. Start with a relatively small platform 2-3 inches in height, and progress to a larger platform over time as you gain strength.
2. Your feet should be roughly hip-width apart. Position yourself towards the front of the platform to ensure that the whole of your foot stays on the platform during each set.
3. Shift your weight across so it’s supported by your right leg.
4. Take a large step back with your left leg until your toes touch the floor, then slowly lower the back knee down towards the ground.
5. Lunge deep enough so that your back knee drops just below the level of the raised platform. If your knee doesn’t drop below the level of the platform, there’s no benefit to using one in the first place.
6. Push up through the heel of your front foot to return to the starting position. It’s your front leg that should be doing most of the work here. Don’t rely on the back leg too much, it’s there mainly to provide balance as you lunge back.
7. Repeat for the prescribed number of repetitions.
Rather than alternating legs from one rep to the next, I’d suggest working one leg at a time.
In other words, do all the repetitions for one leg, give yourself a minute or so to catch your breath, then train the other leg.
Alternating from one leg to the other can make it harder to keep your balance, because you’re constantly shifting your weight from one side to the other.
I’d also recommend giving yourself a breather before you work the other side. If you go straight from training one leg to the next with no rest in between, residual fatigue from the first set can end up compromising the quality of the second.
To add load, I’d suggest holding a couple of dumbbells or kettlebells, and/or wearing a weighted vest.
Deficit Reverse Lunge: Muscles Worked
The deficit reverse lunge hits a number of muscle groups, most notably your:
- Adductor Magnus
There isn’t a great deal of difference in the muscles worked between a forward and reverse lunge.
Overall, the difference between the two exercises in terms of the muscles being worked is relatively small, and you should go with the variation that minimizes joint pain and feels like it’s working the muscles you’re trying to target.
The way the reverse lunge is done will affect how hard each of those muscles is working.
In other words, if you want to focus more on the quadriceps:
- Take a shorter step back
- Keep your upper body in an upright position
If you want to work the glutes and hamstrings harder:
- Take a longer step back
- Lean your torso forward around 20 degrees or so as you lunge back.