Alternatives to "Dumbbell Lunges"

Man lifting weights in gym

Dumbbell lunges are a highly effective lower body exercise that can help you efficiently train a number of leg muscles. However, dumbbell lunges are not the only exercise that can accomplish that goal, so if you want to add some variety to your workout routine you have many options. Before you begin a workout routine, be sure to consult your doctor to be sure you are healthy enough.

Muscles Worked by Dumbbell Lunges

Before you choose an exercise to replace dumbbell lunges, it's important that you understand which muscles this exercise trains. Picking a poor substitute may mean that you are inadvertently ignoring an important muscle group. The main muscle group worked by dumbbell lunges is your quadriceps. The exercise also helps train your glutes, hamstrings, inner thighs and calves. Because dumbbell lunges work multiple muscle groups, the exercise is known as a "compound" exercise.

Barbell Squats

The barbell squat is one of the most popular lower body exercises due to its efficiency; the squat works more than 256 muscles and is the "king of all exercises," according to fitness website Muscle & Strength. The squat, like barbell lunges, primarily works your quadriceps, and it can also help strengthen your calves, glutes and hamstrings. Squatting also helps strengthen your core, as your lower back and abdominal muscles help keep your upper body stable through the movement.

Barbell Deadlift

The barbell deadlift is another popular exercise for those looking to maximize efficiency and build lower body strength. The deadlift is more similar to lunges than squats, as you don't have to lift a barbell over your head. The deadlift works a similar range of muscle groups compared to lunges, with the quadriceps, glutes, inner thighs, hamstrings, calves and lower back involved in the movement. Deadlifting also involves upper body strength, with your shoulders and upper back helping to pull the barbell off of the floor.

Leg Press

If you prefer using machines to dumbbells and barbells, the leg press may be a good alternative. The leg press machine encourages a motion similar to that of a squat, but unlike the squat, you don't have to support any weight on your back. Leg press machines may be built so that you push weight parallel to the ground or on an upward angle. This exercise can be a good substitute for dumbbell lunges because it works your quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes and calves.

Step-ups can be performed with either dumbbells or a barbell, depending upon which you are more comfortable with. Step-ups, as the name suggests, involve stepping up onto an elevated platform, such as a stair or fitness step, with the stepping leg providing the force to lift the rest of your body up to its level. Like lunges, one leg is worked with each step; this isolation can help you even out strength imbalances you may have. The exercise works your quadriceps, calves, hamstrings and glutes.