T Nation

Reverse or Forward Lunges for Hamstrings?


I recently got back pain in my lower back and talked to the doctor and therefore stopped doing deadlifts/squats since i want my back to heal fully before going back to doing them. In meantime i have read that and also seen that dumbbell lunges is not as hard on the lower back and i can do them pain free.
I know there are alot of variations out there and what i am looking for is the one that hits the hamstrings the most.

Which one of these two variations hits the hamstrings the most? Reverse ones or forward? or any other variation?

Thx in advance


Wait a tick...tell us about this lower back pain. EVERY.SINGLE.DOCTOR. is going to tell you not to squat or deadlift, because "heavy lifting is bad...mmmmmk..." Instead of seeking ways around the problem, why not fix the problem? Posting a video of either of these lifts (even if it's light weight) will help out alot.

Reverse lunges will tend to hit your hamstrings more, but the extent to which they do is entirely determined by how much you recruit them to "pull" yourself forward between each rep.


you can hit them harder bu taking a longer stride, the shorter the stride the more quad, the longer, the more glutes and hams, lunges are the tits as i have a fucking terrible back and cant do anything but them


i fractured my back. i still cant do deadlifts, well i mean i physically can but its way too uncomfortable and not worth it. I do RDL with a slight bend in the knee, keep your back tight wear a belt if it makes you more comfortable but i can do those pain free. also do the leg curl machine, but its a machine blah blah blah it works and there is no pressure on your back. as for squatting, try some front squats. i feel i can control the weight better and for me it feels less stressful. thats my opinion, but im no dr. you should always listen to your dr.


Thx for the reply, so is reverse lunges with long stride and pulling yourself up with the heel the optimal way to recruit the hams?


Thx, does it make a difference if i take the long stride backwards or forwards? For example will a reverse lunge with long stride recruit less or more then a forward lunge with long stride?


I am not sure how i got the back pain, i don't think it was couse of DL's or front squats but ever since i got it,i am way more careful with exercise selection and doing exercises with less injury risk as i am 20 and want to continue working out for as long as i can. As they some say,the biggest key is conistency


i hear ya man im 21. fracture happened at 15. my thought process, which is probably stupid, is that by doing these things and really strengthening my back i will be able to overcome the pain. if its stronger its better right? that may not make any sense to anyone here but it works in my head. good luck with your injury.


For me, it's not so much about stride length as much as avoiding excess knee flexion (think knees going over toes). Typically, people will report to feeling more recruitment of their hamstrings when they use a larger stride, because it makes it much harder to have any kind of ecess knee flexion; however, a large stride is not necessary to sit into your hips and recruit your hamstrings more.


just try the strides on your warmp up sets, i mostly go for a comfortable length, i think everyones will be different based on proportions but lunges definitely take a few workouts to get the form down