• Photo for JoeTraining series: Reverse lunge, do it backwards for maximum impact
    Photo Credit: Nicolas Smith

JoeTraining series: Reverse lunge, do it backwards for maximum impact

By RealJock Staff

RealJock proudly presents this four-month series of weekly training clinics with Steve Lischin of Joe Training. Joe Training represents some of New York City’s most sought-after and respected personal trainers, including Lischin, a former competitive bodybuilder whose celebrity and professional athlete clientele come to him to build the strong, healthy, and beautiful bodies they need for their careers. Each week, Lischin gives us detailed description of one of the seminal exercises from his workout plans. You can browse through these exercises to learn proper form and technique, then incorporate them into your own workout routine. Be sure to keep your eye out for interesting variations on exercises you haven’t seen before, and learn about the pitfalls you need to avoid to prevent painful injury.

“Oh no, not the lunge,” your knees scream. Never fear little knees, there’s another way to do it.

Working your quads, glutes, hams and calves, the lunge is a great exercise when done correctly. When you do it backwards, all-star personal trainer Steve Lischin says, you increase the impact of the exercise, while decreasing the risk of injury or strain.

“It’s a great exercise to be combined with other leg exercises,” he said. “It’s a good one to add with squats. When you are doing a reverse lunge, you engage your quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings and calves as well as your core. It addresses these muscles in a new way with a focus on stability.”

So why does it hurt your knees? According to Lischin, “People tend to do these wrong and tax the knees. In a conventional lunge, with or without weights, people take one leg, lunge forward and return to the original position. The problem with that is that people take all the weight and drive their knee all the way forward. It puts a lot of sheering force on your knee as you extend it over your toes.”

Doing the exercise backwards changes the direction of the force and engages glutes, hamstrings and quadriceps. To make it more difficult, you can add weights or step off the back of a step.


1. Standing, without weights, place your hands on your hips, feet shoulder-width apart, activate your core to support your low back and keep your knees slightly bent.

2. Pick up your left leg and step backwards. You should feel it in your hip flexor on the leg stretching backwards. In the foreward leg, you’ll feel it in your glutes.

3. Return to start and alternate. “I like to see people do these with dumbbells in hand,” Lischin said, “rather than a barbell on their back.”

Always begin without weight to master the form. When you incorporate weight, start light and work up to 10 repetitions. If you can keep your form and balance at the first weight, then you can gradually increase your weight. Be aware of your foot placement. You don’t want to twist an ankle or knee. This motion needs to be done deliberately and slowly. Warm up and stretch before you begin. Make sure your body is ready to do the motion.

Take a deliberate step forward and drop your knee down. Don’t extend your knee beyond your toes. You can hold weights in your hands as you walk and lunge. To add a stability component and engage your core, try rotating a medicine ball from side to side as you lunge.

Representing New York City's most highly sought personal trainers, Joe Training provides individualized training, yoga, and nutrition counseling to people who want to maximize their physical and mental well-being. Whether its clients want to boost their current training or yoga practice, get in shape for a special occasion, gear up for a sports event, or start a new fitness program, Joe Training identifies the most suitable coaching expert to get them there. Learn more about Joe Training’s individualized counseling services at

Steve Lischin has over 20 years experience as a private personal fitness instructor and nutrition counselor. A former bodybuilding champion with a masters degree in nutrition and certification from the National Academy of Sports Medicine, Lischin’s clientele includes professional athletes and teams, as well as actors and celebrities gearing up for major motion pictures and events. In addition to providing expert personal training services to his clients, Lischin has created and managed several in-house personal training departments in major health clubs in New York and New Jersey, including World Gyms of NYC. He can be reached on the web through