Lunges vs Squats - Which Is Better?

Lunges vs Squats - Which Is Better?

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Lunges and squats both target your lower body and build muscle, but one gives you a "leg up" when it comes to building muscle more quickly, and the other has an advantage for working on stability, agility and coordination.  

 

If your goal is to increase leg mass and strength, but you don’t need to focus on correcting imbalances for everyday and functional tasks, choose squats over lunges. Just like lunges, squats strength-train your muscles but you use both legs instead of the lunge which is done one leg at a time. And because squats make balancing easier, they give you the ability to add larger amounts of weight to the exercise which can help you build muscle faster than doing a lunge.

 

If you’re an athlete and want to work on balance and coordination with muscle and strength gain, lunges are better than squats because the movement’s one-leg-at-a-time flow requires you to focus on correcting imbalances and improving your agility.

 

If you’re looking to learn more about when to choose between squats vs. lunges, this guide is for you. 

We start with a table showing how squats and lunges are different and similar, then go into more detail about when to choose which one, and when both squats and lunges make sense for your workout routines.

 

Lunges

Squats

Best for beginners

X

Better for intermediate and experts that working out

X

Builds muscle mass 

X

X

Tones your muscles

X

X

Better for strength development

X

Can be done as a bodyweight exercise

X

X

Able to add weights to the exercise

X

X

Targets quads and glutes 

X

X

Easier to balance while doing

X

Improves balance and coordination 

X

Activates your adductors and glutes

X

Improves your balance, flexibility, and core strength

X

X

Mimics the movement of sitting and standing back up

X

Mimics a stepping forward, backward, and side motion

X

Single leg exercise

X

Enhances your athletic performance

X

X

Improves your endurance

X

X

Can be done with equipment like benches, squat machines, bosu balls, and TRX bands.

X

X

Equipment like kettlebells and stability balls are used

X

X

Requires more coordination

X

Great for runners

X

Better for football players

X

Promotes body symmetry

X

One of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s favorite exercises

X

Improves running speed 

X

Reduces the risk of stroke and heart attacks

X

X

Targets imbalances

X

 

When To Choose Lunges Over Squats 

 

If you want to improve your balance, coordination, agility, and endurance, choose lunges over squats. The movement of a squat concentrates more on building up your mass and power because you can add more weights to it, while lunges focus on stability and balance. 

Playing sports that require agility, power, and grace like ballet, lacrosse, or soccer, make lunges a better choice than squats because they build the lean muscle needed while working to correct imbalances and your coordination. 

 

Lunges are also the right choice if your goal is to lose weight as they are easier to turn into core exercises that burn calories than a squat where you stay in place.  But losing weight also requires lifestyle and nutritional changes, squats and lunges can only do so much.

 

When To Choose Squats vs Lunges

 

Squats are better than lunges if you need brute force for sports like weightlifting, specific field positions like a lineman in football, or if you're a defensive rugby player.  This is because you can add more weight to the movements and bulk up faster. 

 

If you want to reduce cellulite, and your genetics are prone to building bulk, a squat is better than a lunge as it makes the target muscle group work harder with the added weight to replace the cellulite, where a lunge requires more shifting and movement making it harder to hold heavier weights and replace the cellulite with firm skin and muscle.

 

Parents that enjoy watching their kids playing sports, or people who enjoy hobbies like photography will want to add squats to their workout routines instead of lunges.  Squats work the same muscle groups used while you hold your pose to get the perfect capture, and focus on your child’s game.  By doing more squats than lunges you'll be training your muscles and spend less time standing up to stretching, and more time enjoying the game and your art.

 

And if you’re getting older and standing up is an issue, incorporating squats into your daily routine makes you practices the same motions of sitting down and standing, without having to worry about falling off balance with the bi-lateral movement of a lunge.

 

But sometimes you don’t have to choose between squats vs lunges, they can work together to help you achieve your goals.

 

Lunges and Squats

 

The combination of squats and lunges can give you a calorie burning and muscle building, core workout.  Start with a round of squats holding a free weight to get your legs burning, then move into a walking lunge with an ab twist as you rise and lower yourself.  And both are needed for some sports.

 

If you are a runner, weighted squats will increase your strength and muscle mass while lunges can help to fix gait issues you may have.  This can help decrease the risk of a running injury.  And both build your leg and glute muscles to help with endurance so you can run longer, faster and hit a new personal best. 

 

 

Both lunges and squats work your leg muscles and glutes, and now you know which one to choose based on your goals, or which combination will make sense based on your needs. And if you're looking for assistance keeping balance with a squat, you can always use a squat machine like ours here at The DB Method.

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