How to Do a Curtsy Lunge

Man doing a curtsy lunge outside

Even though squats, lunges, and deadlifts are considered the cream of the crop of leg exercises, there is one that you must not overlook: the curtsy lunge for a good lower body workout. But first, you need to know how to do a curtsy lunge.

Curtsy lunges are ideally suited for butt sculpting and are considered one of the best lower body exercises you can do to maximize your lower body power and strength.

The primary focus of the curtsy lunge includes the glute muscles, but this exercise also engages your inner thigh. As lower body exercises go, curtsy lunges will help you build a stronger foundation and give your butt a nice shape.

You can do curtsy lunges at home, at the gym, or anywhere you enjoy exercising. You can build some real lower body power and strength from this exercise.

If you follow Marlo Alleva, she has the perfect form for curtsy lunges.

What Muscles Are Worked With Curtsy Lunges?

The primary muscle targets are the glutes and quads, but this exercise engages more than those muscle groups. You light up your gluteus medius on the stationary leg when you cross your leg back and around. You also engage your hip abductors, bringing your thighs together, which means the thigh muscles are also activated.

You will feel the burn mostly in your glutes and quadriceps. All four muscles that make up the quads engage with the curtsy lunge. Working on these muscles will vastly improve your quad strength and explosiveness for other forms of exercise.

Regarding your glutes, the curtsy lunge engages the gluteus maximus, which is the largest of the glute muscles. It also engages the gluteus medius and minimus.

The secondary muscles engaged with the curtsy lunge are not directly activated, but they do get some work because they play an important supporting role in your lower body. As you engage in the curtsy lunge, your calves are indirectly engaged.

The calves get worked when you’re lowering your body into the curtsy movement, stretching your gastrocnemius and soleus. These muscles are stabilizers, especially when your leg is stationary.

Closeup image of a strong woman and muscular man posing at gym

What Is the Purpose of the Curtsy Lunge?

The curtsy lunge is perfect for lower body strength and stability building, which cannot be stressed enough.

Your gluteus medius is one of the most important muscles that aid in lower body stability. The gluteus medius isn’t directly targeted when performing conventional squats and lunges, so strengthening that muscle is neglected.

The gluteus medius is the most underactive muscle of the lower body. Therefore, adding exercises like the curtsy lunge is vital to your exercise routine.

Another perk of curtsy lunges is that they also aid in inner thigh area strengthening. One study on athletic performance concluded that strength training, including curtsy lunges, will improve physical fitness.

How Do You Do Curtsy Lunges?

Follow these step-by-step instructions to properly perform the curtsy lunge.

  1. Stand straight with your feet shoulder-distance apart and your arms at your sides.
  2. Put your weight on your right foot and step back around using your left foot. It should be like you’re curtsying. Bring your arms into a comfortable position in front of you.
  3. Keep your chest up and stop the lunge once your right thigh is parallel to the floor.
  4. Start straightening your right leg and push up through your heel as you return your left foot back to the starting position.
  5. Repeat these steps for 3 sets of 10 to 12 repetitions to start.

Once you adjust to this exercise, you can add more sets and reps. For a better challenge as you progress, try adding weight like a kettlebell.

Fit female sportswoman doing curtsy lunge exercise with dumbbells in group fitness studio class

What’s the Best Way to Add This to Your Exercise Routine?

If you do a leg day, add curtsy lunges to your leg day workout. Likewise, curtsy lunges will fit into your full-body workout days. Where you fit this exercise into your routine is up to you.

It’s best to combine this move with your other main leg exercises like conventional lunges and squats. It’s a great way to get all those lower body muscles lit up and engaged. Remember to properly warm up before any strength training, including curtsy lunges.

Also, engage in 5 to 10 minutes of light to medium cardio, followed by dynamic stretching to get your body prepared for movement.

What Are Common Mistakes to Avoid When Doing Curtsy Lunges?

While curtsy lunges are beginner-friendly, there are some details regarding common mistakes you should avoid.

You Aren’t Letting Your Chest Fall Forward

Make sure you aren’t letting your chest fall forward. Your torso needs to be upright when you’re doing a curtsy lunge.

If you fail to keep your chest up, you will lose that necessary glute activation, which is one of the essential elements of this exercise. Make yourself aware of your body’s positioning throughout the curtsy lunge movements. Keep your chest up and your eyes straight ahead.

You’re Not Lowering Your Knee Far Enough

It’s important to complete the full repetition, or you won’t benefit from this exercise. Make sure to lower your thigh enough to get as close to being parallel as possible before going back to the starting position.

You’re Not Keeping Your Hips Square

One of the steps includes keeping your hips square because it’s crucial to the exercise. Keep your hips square with your body through the curtsy lunge. If you twist your hips during the curtsy, you will lose the activation of your hips and glutes.

You’re Letting Your Knee Fall Too Far Over Your Toe Line

Anytime you’re performing any lunge, you need not to let your knees fall over your toe line because this increases the risk of injury.

Sometimes this problem happens because of your anatomy, but it’s best to sit back on your hips to begin the movement to prevent your knee from falling forward too far.

Full-length photo of sporty woman with hair in ponytail stretching her body and doing side lunge exercises

Form Tips for the Curtsy Lunge

When performing this exercise, engage your core muscles and lean slightly forward, making sure to keep your upper body, chest, and back straight throughout.

You can also bend your knees until your thighs are at a 90-degree angle with your calves. Keep your toes facing forward. Remember to put safety first.

When done properly, front curtsy lunges are safe and effective for lower body strength-building in your glutes and thighs. It’s important to use safety when performing any exercise, specifically when your knees are involved.

The lead knee in the movement shouldn’t go beyond your toes, which will put unnecessary stress on your knee joint.

It’s also imperative to keep your torso straight, avoiding leaning forward during the exercise. That is a common challenge when you lower your knees into a curtsy pose to the floor.

Can Weights Be Added to the Exercise?

Yes. When solely using your bodyweight becomes too easy for the curtsy lunge, adding some weight is a great idea. Remember to maintain proper curtsy lunge form, or your torso may fall forward because of the added weight.

What Kind of Weights Are Best?

Use a Kettlebell

When you add a kettlebell to the curtsy lunge, you want to hold it chest level in front of you during the curtsy lunge.

Use a Dumbbell for Each Hand

Holding one dumbbell in each hand with your arms down at your sides, complete the curtsy lunge.

Try a Barbell

You can use a barbell on your shoulders to perform the curtsy lunge movement.

Only use weights you can manage when using a barbell. Even using a barbell without weights can help challenge you in this exercise.

Using a barbell requires placing the barbell across your shoulders, facing the rack. Lower your knee until it’s just off the floor and your opposite thigh is parallel to the floor.

Use a Smith Machine

If you prefer to work out at the gym, find the Smith machine (an assisted barbell) for extra support for the lunge or the extra challenge.

Fit woman doing shoulder press exercise with a weight bar Smith machine at gym

Are There Variations of the Curtsy Lunge to Try?

There are absolutely some variations you can try with the curtsy lunge. Try these variations to keep things interesting.

Something that helps on a bare floor is to use a towel under your foot to make sliding it easier with less friction.

Curtsy Lunge With a Side Kick

Please step back and around to complete the curtsy lunge, but instead of coming back to the starting pose, kick your leg out to the side and drop it back into the curtsy lunge each time.

This added movement will be difficult to master at first, but it’s an effective method for enhancing stability, flexibility, and balance.

Double Cross Curtsy Lunge

In this curtsy lunge variation, you will incorporate your upper body.

Hold a dumbbell with both hands on your right shoulder to do this variation. Step back with your right foot and around for the full curtsy. Simultaneously bring the weight down to your outside left thigh, extending your arms down and to the left. Return to the starting pose and repeat.

Curtsy Lunge With a Hold

When you want to challenge your core, this variation will do that.

Step back and around to do your curtsy lunge. Then bring your leg up and in front of your body as you bend your knee for a hold. Pause with your knee bent in that position and repeat the movement.

What Are Alternatives to Curtsy Lunges?

Lunge Jumps

If you want an explosive variation of the curtsy lunge, add a jump to it. You will be adding the jump motion as you return to the starting position.

When your knee is down, close to the floor, push up in a jump, then lower down with the opposite knee. When you do these quickly enough, just a few sets will fire up your thighs.

Reverse Lunge Hold

When you need to feel more burn in your butt, thighs, and calves, the reverse lunge variation for the curtsy lunge will achieve that. You won’t be crossing your legs in this variation.

Go into a reverse lunge and hold it for a few seconds. Holding this pose for a few seconds will activate your glutes, thighs, and calves.

Since your muscles contract and relax, keeping them in a nonstop state of contraction can help improve muscle mass and strength.

When Should You Avoid Curtsy Lunges?

Trainers say that if you experience any discomfort during a curtsy lunge, it’s not a good fit for your workout routine. Exercise shouldn’t cause pain. There are alternatives to curtsy lunges that put less torque on the knees. One such exercise is the drop lunge.

The drop lunge is performed on a small step, box, or bench.

  • Take a large step back (3 feet) with one leg, planting your foot on the floor right behind your straight leg.
  • Bend your knees comfortably for you until the back knee is around an inch off the floor and the front thigh is parallel to the floor.
  • Keep the brunt of your weight on your front leg as you push your heel and straighten your front leg back to the starting position.
  • Only perform as many as you can without pain.

You can see how this is similar to the curtsy lunge, but without the excess stress on your knees.

Sporty muscular young woman in tights standing on a sports field clutching her knee after injuring her joint

What Are the Benefits of Curtsy Lunges?

Better Stability and Balance

The criss-cross movement will activate your quadriceps, core, hips, calves, and ankles. All these muscle groups aid in lower body stabilization. The curtsy lunge helps train your muscle memory to adjust to this motion.

Better stabilization and good muscle memory improve your control. The slower you lower your body, the more your body acclimates to the movement. You will build a connection between your mind and body.

Once you can do the curtsy lunge with less effort, your mind knows to balance itself in this new position, and your muscles will have the strength to handle it.

Strengthens Your Lower Body

Performing the curtsy lunge or any variation helps strengthen your lower body.

It’s a better type of lunge that engages more muscle groups most lunges don’t touch, like the gluteus medius. In this lunge, all the engaged muscles are working in coordination.

Therefore, if just a few muscles in your lower body are stronger than others, the weaker muscles will fall short in support of your primary muscles in the exercise, which impacts functional movements.

Your leg workouts should be versatile enough to work the primary muscle groups and those that are harder to engage.

Curtsy Lunge Alternatives

If you like doing the curtsy lunge, you could benefit by adding these alternatives to your lower body workout.

Side Lunges

Side lunges effectively engage and work your abductor muscles, quadriceps, adductor muscles, glute muscles, and hamstrings. Side lunges are a standing exercise.

  • Stand straight with your feet shoulder distance apart, and your toes flared out a bit.
  • Keep your right leg straight, bend your left knee, and shift your weight to the left side.
  • Transition back to the starting position and do the same on the alternating side.
  • Perform the side lunge alternating, shifting your weight from side to side per movement.
  • Do 2 to 3 sets of 8 to 10 repetitions.

Hold a kettlebell in your hands when performing side lunges if you want the added challenge.

Fire Hydrants

The fire hydrant exercise fires up your core, hip abductors, and all three gluteal muscles. It is an excellent buttocks exercise, but it has benefits like improved hip mobility, lower back stability, and enhanced joint health.

  • Get on all fours with your hands right under your shoulders.
  • Keeping your leg bent, lift one of your legs out and to the side, and stop lifting at hip-height.
  • Clinch your glutes as you go back to the starting position.
  • Repeat this movement on each side.
  • Perform 2 to 3 sets of 8 to 10 repetitions.

Woman doing fire hydrant exercise

Are Curtsy Lunges Bad for Your Knees?

A common question about curtsy lunges is how it affects the knee joints. Some people believe that this exercise is bad for your knees and can cause ligament tears.

It’s important to understand that the form used in performing a curtsy lunge is crucial for protecting your knee joints, muscles, and supporting tendons and ligaments.

If you already have bone or tissue damage or pains, you need to be aware of your body’s cues to avoid exercises that may create more problems than solutions.


One vital thing when exercising is to listen to what your body is telling you. Exercise isn’t about getting injured. It’s about being fit and strong.

Curtsy lunges are ideal for creating a solid core and lower body, whether you’re an athlete or someone who wants to be fit and strong.

Was this article helpful?

Zeen is a next generation WordPress theme. It’s powerful, beautifully designed and comes with everything you need to engage your visitors and increase conversions.

Top 3 Stories