Side Lunge with Dumbbells: How To Do & Muscles Worked

Jason Williams
side lunge with dumbbells

The Side Lunge with Dumbbells is one of the most popular exercises for the hips and glutes. There are various variations of this exercise adapted for beginners and for advanced athletes.

What Muscles Does The Side Lunge with Dumbbells Work?

Unlike classic Side Lunges, Side Lunge with Dumbbells allow you to work out the inner thigh and gluteus medius muscles to a further degree.

The main muscles worked out during the exercise are as follows:

  • Initial abduction of the leg to the side: gluteus medius, gluteus minimus.
  • Squat on the abducted leg: biceps femoris muscle.
  • Lifting from the squat (extension): quadriceps (extends the knee), gluteus maximus (extendsion of the hip).
  • Returning the leg back to the body: adductor muscle.

Additional secondary muscles worked: calves, abdominal and lower back muscles.

The Side Lunge & Weight Loss

The Side Lunge is a great exercise to sculpt the outer surface of the thigh and the Side Lunge is often used to work-out this problematic area. However to clarify, fat does not disappear with muscle training. Getting rid or reducing fat on the thighs requires an energy deficit, which can be created by intense muscle training.

70% of success depends on reducing the number of calories consumed. But there is another complication; The outer surface of the thigh is not a muscle, but a tendon on top of fat.

To train for the purpose of losing weight or fat on the thighs, you need to be in fat-burning mode, which means with a lot of reps (from 20 upwards) and at an above average pace. The number of sets: from 3 and up. Cardio is also a great way to speed up your metabolism. For visible and quick weight loss, it is advisable to do cardio for 30-40 minutes 3-4 times a week.

Side Lunge with Dumbbells is a great tool if your goal is to improve the shape of your legs and buttocks. Since this exercise involves several muscle groups at once. Use 8-12 reps at a slow pace. Number of sets: 3-4.

side lunge squat with dumbbells

How To Do Side Lunge with Dumbbells?

The Side Lunge is performed from a standing position (feet shoulder-width apart).

  1. Spread your feet slightly to the sides and straighten your back. Take a dumbbell in your hands and bend your arms at the elbows in front of your chest. If you take two dumbbells, then hold them at shoulder level with your arms bent at the elbows. Tighten your abs. The knees should be soft and the stance springy.
  2. As you inhale, take a wide step with your left leg to the side. Bend your working knee slightly. Gently lower your foot to the floor, transfer the center of gravity to this leg and squat to a right angle at the knee. Try to keep your back straight. Only a slight forward tilt is allowed. The second leg is absolutely straight (extended to the side).
  3. As you exhale, vigorously extend your knee and return to the starting position. You should be able to feel how your glutes and quads are working.

Do the required number of reps with each leg. Take a break, doing a light stretch of the muscles, and do another 1-2 sets.

Execution Options

It’s too easy to do Side Lunges without weights and therefore it’s very important that dumbbells are used. However, there are other more advanced options of this exercise.

Side Lunge with Bicep Curl

You can combine the Side Lunge with a Bicep Curl. In this case, the dumbbells are held with a reverse grip. In the starting position, the arms are extended downward. When performing a lunge, you bend your arms, bringing the dumbbells closer to your chest.

Side Lunge with Barbell

You can also do the Side Lunge with a barbell. In this case, you additionally load your back and abs. In addition, this movement with the weight on the shoulders helps to develop a sense of balance.

The Side Lunge with barbell is the most effective version of this exercise for muscle development. But it is better to start training with classic lunges. This will help you master the technique and avoid any mistakes. Once you’ve mastered the movement and strengthened your muscles, you can do lunges with extra weight.

Correcting Mistakes

The Side Lunge is considered a basic exercise. It is recommended for everyone from beginners to experienced athletes. In order to achieve maximum results, you should eliminate all possible mistakes and focus on the technique of the movement:

  • Do the exercise smoothly. Jerky movements prevent the muscles from reaching their peak contraction and can injure the knee.
  • Look straight ahead and do not slouch. Rounding the back and lower back can negatively affect and put strain on the spine.
  • Do not tilt the body forward too much. Do not extend your knee beyond the toe line and do not lower your pelvis below knee level. Usually these mistakes are made at the same time. Because if you make one mistake, then others will automatically follow. For this reason, keep an eye on the position of your core, pelvis, and knees.
  • Don’t take too short or too long a step. It will be difficult for you to maintain your balance, which will make the movement less effective.

Try doing the exercise in front of a mirror. This will give you better control over your technique.

Improper technique is especially dangerous when you are working with dumbbells or a barbell. You may be injured by doing the exercise incorrectly.


Regularly doing Side Lunges with dumbbells strengthens the lower body muscular structure. You can combine this exercise with regular lunges, squats, and other leg and glute exercises.

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