Getting in better shape does not always require a gym. Even no-equipment bodyweight exercises like lunges can offer many benefits.
These benefits range from some of the more unique aspects of the lunge exercise like its lack of equipment requirements to more general health effects that are so valuable they are worth mentioning.
Before going into the positives, make sure you can do lunges safely. Some people find this exercise uncomfortable on their knees.
1. Lunges work a few muscles
Lunges are typically done as a calisthenics aka bodyweight resistance training exercise. In simpler words, you generally do this movement to grow and strengthen muscles.
Most people like the visuals of some extra muscle mass but it also benefits your health in a variety of ways.
Some of the muscles worked with lunges include:
- Quadriceps (front thighs)
- Glutes (butt)
- Hamstrings (back thighs)
- Hip abductors (outer thighs)
- Hip adductors (inner thighs)
- To some extent core muscles like your abs, obliques, and erector spinae
It is worth noting that doing lunges will not always lead to muscle growth and strengthening. You still need to do this exercise with enough resistance, reps, and sets to achieve these results.
How many lunges you should do depends on your training goals.
For example, to improve leg muscle strength you would do 4 to 8 sets of 5 lunges with a resistance that is very challenging.
Resistance training beginners and potentially intermediates will be able to see results with lunges because they put most of your body weight on one leg. This is relatively challenging for your muscles.
On the other hand, more advanced lifters may need to do lunges with weights to see results.
These are basically the same exercise but you carry extra weight. For example, in the form of a heavy backpack, a weighted vest, or dumbbells.
2. Lunges can help you avoid muscle imbalances
While your back leg does offer some balance, lunges will mainly work the muscles in your front leg.
In two-legged exercises like squats, it is possible to use one leg slightly more than the other.
This can lead to uneven gains in muscle size and strength which are typically suboptimal.
On the other hand, the unilateral (one-sided) muscle engagement of lunges can be a benefit in the sense that it becomes easier to work each leg equally.
In turn, you avoid some of the potential muscle imbalance.
You do want to make sure you do lunges with your feet at about the same distances to get this benefit. Different distances lead to working your muscles in slightly different ratios.
To be able to do this in a routine like 100 lunges a day, it could be useful to put markers on the floor.
3. You can do lunges almost anywhere
There are many workout programs where you have to go the certain locations or use exercise equipment most people don’t have at home.
This is generally a downside because it means spending extra time before you are able to do your exercise.
Even if it would only take you 10 minutes to drive to the gym, that would mean spending an extra 30 minutes in the car if you work out 3 times a week.
On the other hand, you have bodyweight exercises like lunges that you can do basically anywhere.
All you need is enough room to take a big step forward, potentially also something like a heavy backpack, and you can get in a lunge workout.
4. Lunges can benefit weight loss
To lose weight you need to get to a point where you use up more energy than you absorb from the things you eat.
Lunges can help weight loss in the sense that they can help you increase the amount of energy you use.
The first reason for this is that the lunge movement requires more energy than standard daily activities. To see to what extent this is the case you can look at how many calories lunges burn.
A rough estimation is that a 185-pound (84 kg) person will burn around 83 calories while doing bodyweight lunges for 15 minutes.
This may not sound and is not that impressive.
However, lunges can also help you build a nice amount of muscle mass since your quadriceps, glutes, and hamstrings are relatively big.
This extra muscle mass helps you burn more calories than usual throughout the day.
Because many of the calorie-burning effects from lunges come from the extra muscle mass, you likely don’t want to do them every day for this purpose.
This way your body gets enough time to repair and grow the muscles.
5. Lunges offer a lot of resistance without weights
Another consequence of putting most of your weight on one leg is that lunges offer a nice amount of resistance without much equipment.
This benefit makes it so you don’t have to spend as much money on leg workout equipment.
Something to note is that there will still be people who need something more challenging.
In that case, certain alternatives to lunges could be even better options.
Additionally, equipment options like resistance bands are relatively budget-friendly and compact.
6. Lunges can improve balance and coordination
There are exercises that are more challenging than lunges in this area but it is fair to say this movement can be somewhat challenging in terms of balance and coordination.
This can actually be a disadvantage if it stops you from getting a great leg workout.
However, it can also benefit your balance and coordination skills over time.
7. Lunges can improve mobility and flexibility
You can describe mobility and flexibility as how far your joints, tendons, and muscles can comfortably go.
Similar to many areas of your body, you can train these fitness skills.
Lunges can be challenging in terms of hip mobility and flexibility in the muscles around this area. If you push yourself enough (but not too much) this can lead to improvements.
In turn, having better mobility and flexibility can help reduce your risk of injuries and falling.