• 17/07/2024 08:26

Lunges or squats: which exercise is better for the lower body?

Squats are perhaps one of the best leg exercises. These are probably the most commonly performed movements in the gym, and we're willing to bet you'll be hard-pressed to find a strength training program that doesn't include squats. But what about lunges? Should you choose lunges or squats?

ContentLunges vs. Squats: What's the Difference? You can squat with heavier weights, but lunges require more functional training. Lunges require more balance and stability than squats. Lunges vs. Squats: Which Should You Choose?

While lunges don't get the same hype as squats, they are a classic compound exercise. So are they effective at working the vital muscles of the lower body? Here's what WomanEL found out.

Lunges or squats: what's the difference?

With so many different ways to perform each movement (with kettlebells or barbells, walking lunges or reverse lunges, sumo squats or pause squats), comparing the two can get a little confusing. But if we take a basic squat and a basic lunge, with or without any resistance, “they're very similar movements.” That's exactly what Elouise Millard, head coach at F45 Stratford, says.

Both involve bending your knees to lower your hips to the ground. In squats, both of your feet are on the ground, mirroring each other, but lunges are performed by moving one leg in front or behind the other. This changes the result of the movement.

You can squat with heavier weights, but lunges require more functional training

“Lunges are great for developing unilateral strength, core stability, and improving balance,” says Millard. These are all functional skills that serve purposes in everyday life outside of the gym.

Unilateral work helps us to be stable and strong on both sides of the body. This is especially important given that we don't often pick things up off the floor with our feet perfectly aligned.

The step-by-step lunge position mimics the motion of walking and running, building strength in the pattern we need every day. “Reverse lunges are especially good for this,” trainer Emma Obayuwana previously told Strong Women. “The movement… mimics forward body mechanics and muscle action as you lift your back leg back to a standing position.”

Lunges require more balance and stability than squats

“Lunges are more challenging on the body than squats due to the increased balance and coordination required to perform the movement,” says Millard. “For this reason, beginners may want to start with squats before moving on to lunges.”

A 2020 paper published in the Journal of Sports Rehabilitation found that overall muscle activation was higher in lunges than in squats. , suggesting that the lunge forces more muscles to work harder. But because of weight distribution, it's usually easier and safer to lift heavy weights while squatting rather than lunging.

Lunges or squats: which should you choose?

Which is better, lunges or squats, Source: freepik.com

Don't think that the only way to develop serious lower body strength is to squat. In a 2015 study, researchers found that there was no noticeable difference between squats and lunges in terms of lower body strength. “One of the most unusual findings of the study was that the lunge group actually improved their 1RM squat performance more than the squat group (22.6% and 7.2%, respectively), and the squat group improved their 1RM squat performance more than the lunges in lunge 1RM (22.1% and 13.6%, respectively),” the researchers wrote.

For this reason, “both squats and lunges can have a place in your training program,” says Millard . While choosing the exercise you prefer or that best suits your goals is important, squats and lunges clearly complement each other and together can help develop all-round strength and power. Instead of an either/or question, why not find room for both?

How to get rid of belly fat? There are so many powerful exercises, but we suggest trying these Japanese ones.

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