How Do You Perform A Curtsy Lunge Correctly? (2023)

In search of an exercise that not only activates the same muscles as the lunge but also targets your essential lower body stabilizer muscles? Look no further than the often-overlooked curtsy lunge, which effectively emphasizes your lower body while improvinghip stability.

The curtsy lunge is a variation of a traditional lunge that can be used to build muscle, included as a dynamic warm-up, or even incorporated into a cardio routine.

It's a great addition to any workout program, making it an essential one to learn how to perform and program correctly.

This article will discuss:

  • What are curtsy lunges?
  • How to do curtsy lunges
  • Curtsy lunge muscles worked
  • Benefits of curtsy lunges
  • Curtsy lunge modifications, progressions, and variations
  • Programming the curtsy lunge

How Do You Perform A Curtsy Lunge Correctly? (1)

What is A Curtsy Lunge?

The curtsy lunge is a functional compound exercise that targets the legs, helping to build strength and stability in the lower body. The standard lunge is a staple in most lower-body strength programs, but if you've been following the same workout for quite a while, your go-to lifts, like the lunge,may start to feel stale.

A great way to freshen up a workout routine is by adding variations, such asthe curtsy lunge.

In addition, this variation targets the inner thighs and gluteus medius, a muscle that has a tendency to becomeunderactive. The curtsy lunge can improve your movement quality and level up your big lifts, like squats and deadlifts, by strengthening secondary leg muscles and posture.

Let’s dive deeper into everything you need to know about curtsy lunges, including how to do themand incorporatethem into your routine.

How To Do The Curtsy Lunge

Get the most out of your curtsy lunge by following proper form. This how-to is for the bodyweight curtsy lunge, which you should first master before moving on to a weighted variation or another progression.

How to do a Curtsy Lunge:

  • For the starting position, begin in a standing position with feet shoulder width to feet hip width apart, and your hands clasped in front of you or placed on your hips.
  • Keep your torsoupright the entire time. Take your right leg and right foot, and step behind and across your left leg at a 45-degree angle.
  • Bend through your knees and lower your right knee to the ground. Your left thigh should be parallel to the ground.
  • Keep your hips and torso squared to the front and your posture upright. Push through your left foot and return to standing.
  • Switch sides, now bringing your left knee behind your body, lowering it toward the ground, and repeating the movement in one smooth repetition.

    Curtsy Lunge Form Tips

    Here are a few extra tips to help you perfect your curtsy lunge.

    1. Keep your torso and entire upper body upright with your chest open and your back neutral. This ensures your core is doing its job by contracting and stabilizing your body throughout the movement. Practicing good posture throughout the curtsy also translates to other lunge patterns.
    2. Your back leg should be angled at 45 degrees, mimicking a curtsy gesture. When done properly, the back leg moves similarly in a lunge pattern but with a slight 45-degree shift, allowing a deep stretch within the glutes.
    3. Keep most of your weight on the front leg, ensuring that the front leg's quads and glutes are activated.
    4. Align your legs in the curtsy position, so your knees do not cave in. Keep your knees in line with your toes throughout each repetition.

      Curtsy Lunges Muscles Worked

      So,what do curtsy lunges work? The primary muscles targeted are the quadriceps and glutes. Let's take a closer look at each of these, in addition to the secondary muscles worked.


      How Do You Perform A Curtsy Lunge Correctly? (2)

      All four muscles of the quadriceps, which include the rectus femoris, vastus lateralis, vastus medialis, and vastus intermedius, are activated during this exercise, which directly translates to building strength in squatting patterns of the lower body.


      How Do You Perform A Curtsy Lunge Correctly? (3)

      The curtsy lunge activates all three gluteal muscles, which include the gluteus maximus,medius, and minimus.

      (Video) How To Do Curtsy Lunges The RIGHT Way

      Both gluteus medius and minimus are strained more in the curtsy position in comparison to traditional lungesand squats. The glute muscles play a big role in stabilizing the hips in relation to the movement.

      Secondary Muscles:

      The curtsy lunge targets the inner and outer thighs, in addition to the lower legs. The secondary muscles that are targeted in the curtsy lunge are the adductors and calves. The adductors stabilize the front leg in the curtsy position and pull the back leg back to the center once a repetition is completed.

      The calves, both the soleus and gastrocnemius, work as stabilizers within the loaded front legs.

      Benefits of the Curtsy Lunge

      Once you see all of the great benefits of curtsy lunges, you'll be shocked you didn't include this exercise in your workout split sooner!

      Here are four of the best curtsy lunges benefits.

      1. They're Accessible:

      This is one of our favorite curtsy lunge benefits. Curtsy lunges can be done anywhere with minimal space and equipment. They can be added as a dynamic warm-up prior to workouts like running, yoga, and strength training.

      Curtsy lunges can also be used as a main movement in a cardio circuit, incorporated with other bodyweight exercises.

      2. Curtsy Lunges Are Low Impact:

      This movement is low-impact and a great exercise for beginners to learn, as well as anyone looking to avoid high-impact movements. The curtsy lunge exercise can be used in placeof jumping jacks, lateral skiers, high knees, and more.

      Instead of jumping, a simple alternating curtsy with an emphasis on pushing away from the ground and activating the lower body is an effective variation.

      3. Curtsy Lunges Strengthen The Lower Body:

      Whether programmed using your body weight or with resistance, the curtsy lunge helps strengthen the lower body, making it a great exercise to include in any leg workout. One of the reasons the curtsy form is so great is that it provides movement versatility the lower body needs in order to gain strength in all ranges and planes of motion.

      There may be muscle groups that are lagging during main lifts like squats and deadlifts, and the curtsy can help by targeting muscle imbalances and activating muscles that need to be supported more.

      Whether you’re trying to increase the weights used when performingsquats or deadlifts or your goal is to improve functional movement patterns, the curtsy lunge will help you develop primary and secondary muscle strength.

      4. A CurtsyImproves Lower Body Balance and Stability:

      The curtsy motion of crossing one leg behind the other challenges the body’s alignment and control. The leg stabilizers are especially targeted when you slow down the curtsy and focus on keeping balance throughout the entire range of motion.

      Incorporating single-leg exercises like the curtsy lunge and other variations of lunges helps to improve any imbalances existing between yourright and left sides. This emphasizes your mind-muscle connection, increases your muscle memory, and improves your ability to perform seamless repetitions over time.

      Common Curtsy Lunge Mistakes

      You'll only reap the curtsy lunge benefits if your form is spot on. To ensure you build muscle and remain injury-free, avoid these mistakes.

      1. Your Chest Falls Forward.

      When your torso falls forward in the curtsy position, core and glute activation are lost. Practicing an upright posturewhileactively engaging your core can connect you deeper with the movement and allow you to feel the muscles that are actively engaging.

      If you feel like your chest is dropping forward even as you're actively trying to keep it upright, use a TRX strap to practice maintaining posture while lowering your body with control. When you’re ready, move away from the TRX and practice bodyweight repetitions in front of the mirror, keeping an eye on your form.

      2. Your Hips Open Outward.

      When first learning the curtsy lunges exercise, many gym goers have a tendency to open through the hips and rotate away from the loaded/front leg. However, the hips should stay squared toward the front for a proper curtsy, activating the right muscles and balancing your legs.

      (Video) How To Curtsy Lunge With Krissy Cela

      Keeping your hips squared helps connect the torso and hips, making sure the body moves in unison. Place your hands on your hips for external guidance. This way, you’ll be able to feel any shift within your hips.

      3. You Only Lower Halfway Down.

      Partial repetitions fail to provide the full benefits of the curtsy lunge. Make sure your front knee and thigh are hitting a parallel position relative to the ground and the opposite knee hovers just above the ground before pushing back into your starting lunge position.

      Use a soft yoga block placed on the ground as a target for the bending leg as a guide to making sure you’re bending down low enough. As you get more practice reps in, you’ll be able to recognize full and partial reps just by the way they feel.

      4. Your Knee DrivesOver Your Toes.

      Depending on your anatomy and movement pattern efficiency, your curtsy may look and function differently than someone else's. However, with any lunge, an excessive knee drive over the toes causes additional stress on the knees and can lead to potential injuries.

      To avoid this, sink into your hips and allow your hips and knees to simultaneously bendwhileinitiating the lunge pattern. This helps distribute the weight of your body and limits unnecessary strain on the joints, sending tension to the muscles instead.

      Curtsy Lunge Modifications

      If the standard curtsy lunge is bothersome for your joints or inaccessible to your range of motion, instead include one of these curtsy lunge modifications in your routine.

      You can also opt to perform partial range curtsy lunges as you adjust to the movement.

      Although partial ranges are not always recommended, as long as you’re working your way to complete full curtsy lunges, you’ll see improvement and benefits by practicing these.

      Start with a modification and slowly work your way up to a full range of motion bodyweight curtsy lunge.

      1. TRX Curtsy Lunge:

      It’s just like your standard bodyweight curtsy lunge but with additional support using TRX straps. The TRX straps help you maintain more of an upright posture throughout the movement. This is a great opportunity to work on form and alignment through the curtsy.

      What’s beneficial about using TRX straps is the ability to adjust how much assistance you want to use. When you’re ready to put more of your own weight into the curtsy position, use less of a pull on the TRX and rely more on your legs to push you through the form. Remember, the more your leg muscles work, the better for muscle hypertrophy.

      TRX Curtsy Lunge Demo on YouTube

      2. Lateral Lunge:

      How Do You Perform A Curtsy Lunge Correctly? (4)

      The lateral lunge is similar to the curtsy because it challenges you to shift weight onto one leg. Also, lateral lunges target the secondary stabilizing muscles, helping you maintain balance and stability. With the lateral lunge, you’ll feel your weight shift to one leg at a time, while you practicekeeping your hips and torso squared to the front.

      Practice alternating sides for the lateral lunges similarly to how you would perform alternating curtsy lunges, which gets you used to moving side to side. And don't forget toprogressive overloadthis exercise when you're ready by adding weights.

      3. Lateral Step Ups:

      How Do You Perform A Curtsy Lunge Correctly? (5)

      Stepping up on a box that is around 1-2 feet tall is a great way to start connecting yourmind and body to the outer glutes and inner thighs. Position the side of your body next to the box. Without rotating, step one foot on the box and press into a standing stance.

      This is a safe and effective way to practice single-leg loading. Once you’ve completed 8-12 reps on one side, switch to the other. You can also replicate a moving side-to-side motion by raising up on one leg and slowly lowering down on the other.

      (Video) How to perform a Curtsy Lunge

      How to Add Weight

      Once you’re comfortable and familiar with the curtsy lunge, increase the intensity by adding additional resistance. Adding weight is dependent on your comfort, level, and overall strength.

      The most important factor is your ability to maintain proper form even with additional weight. Here are ways to start loading your curtsy:

      • Hold a kettlebell in a goblet position at chest level.
      • Hold a dumbbell in each hand with your arms down at your sides.
      • Load a barbell onto your shoulders.
      • Securelyposition yourself under a smith machine for a supported load.

        Curtsy Lunge Variations & Progressions

        Ready to switch things up or make this move harder? A simple strategy is to add a 2-second pause at the bottom of each of your curtsy lunges.

        Or, you can try any of these great variations.

        1. Curtsy Lunge Pulses:

        Adding a pulse to the bottom range of your curtsy lunge not only challenges your ability to control the bottom position, but it makes for a great quad exercise and challenges your glute stability. Dip down into your curtsy position, slightly lift up, dip back down, and come back to your start position.

        If you’re looking to “burn out” the muscles, pulse for as many controlled repetitions as you can on one side before standing back up.

        Curtsy Lunge Pulses Demo on YouTube

        2. Curtsy Lunge with a Lateral Kick:

        Primarily used as a cardiovascular movement alternative, the curtsy lunge with a kick is a way to challenge the loaded leg and your balance. The leg that steps back into the crossover position then kicks out to the side as you step to your starting stance.

        Instead of alternating sides, stay on one side at a time to target the loaded leg. Complete this movement in one, fluid motion. Switch sides once the designated reps/time is completed.

        Want to make this harder? Add one or two dumbbells to really feel the burn!

        Curtsy Lunge with a Lateral Kick

        3. Skater Lunges:

        Adding in power and speed to the curtsy form, complete a controlled repetition on one side. Then, as you come up to standing, jump into your next repetition for the curtsy on the other side.

        Maintain a more upright position as you dip down into your curtsy, allowing your body to slightly shift forward as you jump to the other side. Jump as far out as you’re comfortable, while still being able to catch yourself in a stable position for your next rep. This is a great addition to a HIIT routine.

        Skater Lunge Demo on YouTube

        4. Weighted Curtsy Lunges:

        How Do You Perform A Curtsy Lunge Correctly? (6)

        As listed above, there are many ways to add weight to your curtsy lunge. When you’re ready to progress this exercise, choose the most practical option to challenge your curtsy. When adding weights, it may throw your balance off and compromise your form. This will make your stabilizer muscles and core muscles work extra hard.

        Adjust when needed and decrease the weight if necessary. Weighted curtsy lunge options include the dumbbell curtsy lunge, kettlebell curtsy lunge, or even the barbell curtsy lunge.

        How to Program Curtsy Lunges

        Incorporating curtsy lunges into your routine is dependent on your goals. They can be programmed into your leg-only workouts or full-body routine. It’s really up to you!

        (Video) Best Exercise to Perk Up That Butt! How to do a Curtsy Lunge Right.

        For strength-specific days, complete 8-10 total weighted repetitions of 3-4 sets as your accessory movement after squats or deadlifts. Another way to incorporate the curtsy lunge is as part of your warm-up or in a circuit.

        As a warm-up, include the curtsy into your dynamic routine, completing 1-2 minutes of constant controlled repetitions. As for a cardiovascular routine, hit high repetitions of 12-20 total repetitions for a round of 3-5 sets with light weights or body weight.

        The volume of curtsy lunges will depend on your overall goal for that workout and future progressions. Make sure to slowly ease your way into higher reps and heavier weights. Itwill more than likely take your body a few sessions to adapt to the curtsy position, especially if this is the first time you’re consistently incorporating them.

        The Curtsy Lunge: Build Muscle & Improve Hip Stability

        Strengthen your legs, glutes, and hips with the curtsy lunge. Whether you’re just starting your movement journey or you’re well-versed in lower body variations and looking for a new challenge, take advantage of all the benefits that curtsy lunges provide!

        Looking for another great lunge variation to include in your routine? Check out how to perform walking lunges, an exercise that will improve your balance and athleticism while building muscle!

        How Do You Perform A Curtsy Lunge Correctly? (7)

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        (Video) How to do a curtsey lunge: correct form to target glutes


        What does the curtsy lunge work? ›

        The curtsy lunge targets the main muscles involved in a lunge — the quads and glutes — but also engages some additional movers. When your leg crosses back and around, the gluteus medius on the stationary leg fires up. The hip abductors — which bring your thighs together — are also engaged.

        How do you feel curtsy lunges in your glutes? ›

        Cross your right foot behind your left, bend you knees, and lower your hips until your left thigh is nearly parallel to the ground. Keep your torso upright and square as possible, keeping your shins in place and directly in front of you.

        Which leg goes back in curtsy? ›

        The proper way to curtsy is by putting the right leg back and bending the left leg. To do it the other way round is seen as uncouth.

        Are curtsy lunges better than side lunges? ›

        The gluteus maximus, medius, and minimus make up the three gluteal muscles. Like all other lunging motions, the curtsy lunge activates the glutes. However, the curtsy lunge engages the gluteus medius and minimus more than other lunges. This will help to shape the gluteus and strengthen it as a cohesive unit.

        Why do curtsy lunges hurt? ›

        04/5​What can happen if you perform curtsy lunges

        Pushing your body beyond your limitation may put a lot of strain and pressure on your knee. Putting too much pressure on your body can lead to injury and strain. The risk is even higher if you have bone-related issues or are suffering from knee pain.

        Do curtsy lunges hurt knees? ›

        Your body is capable of moving in three planes: sagittal (forward and backward movement), transverse (rotational movement), and frontal (side-to-side movement). Lunges in the first two of these planes, such as walking lunges or curtsy lunges, often aggravate grouchy knees.

        How many sets of curtsy lunges should I do? ›

        For the curtsy lunge, begin with 2–3 sets of 10–15 repetitions on each side. Choose your sets and repetitions based on your ability to maintain good technique throughout all sets and repetitions. 1. Start by standing with your feet hip-width apart and a slight bend in your knees.

        Does curtsy lunges reduce thigh fat? ›

        Curtsy lunges involve bending different parts of the body that is highly effective. This exercise helps in reducing excess body fat as well as improves body shape. It is effective for the muscles behind the thighs. It is beneficial for the calf and lower back muscles.

        Do curtsy lunges work inner thighs? ›

        A curtsy lunge adds a different element of balance to your leg workout and helps to strengthen both the inner and outer thighs. Remember, you want to keep a 90-degree angle with your front and back leg when you lunge. It helps to keep this visual in mind to get the most out of the exercise.

        What muscle does curtsy squat work? ›

        What Muscles Does the Curtsy Squat Work? The curtsy squat is an exercise that sculpts and strengthens your legs, especially your quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings, and calves. The curtsy squat is also great for strengthening and stabilizing your core.

        What muscles do lateral lunge to curtsy work? ›

        The side lunge to curtsy lunge adds a lateral movement that is often neglected in more traditional lower body exercises. The lateral movement targets your inner and outer thighs and also helps to strengthen your core, glutes, quads, hamstrings, hips, and calves.


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