Training your leg muscles is important for your health. Find out how to do lunges, what they are good for, and why other options could be better.
You can describe lunges as an exercise where you take a big step forward, lower your hips, and then step back into starting position.
This movement is great for working important leg muscles like your quadriceps, glutes, and hamstrings.
In combination with the right resistance and repetition ranges, this can help you grow and strengthen these muscles.
Keep in mind that stronger individuals may need to do lunges with weights to get optimal results in these areas.
One thing you do want to keep in mind is that some people will find lunges uncomfortable on their knees. In that case, leg exercises with a smaller range of motion could be better.
Additionally, there are compound leg exercises that allow your muscles to go through a bigger range of motion under tension. This tends to be more effective for results.
How to do a lunge properly
You can actually do lunges in many different ways. This article considers the standard version to be the one where you always keep one foot in starting position.
Take the following steps to do this type of lunge:
- Stand upright with your feet about shoulder-width apart.
- Take a big step forward with your foot at a distance where your knees can get in the angles mentioned in the next step.
- Lower your upper body until your knees are at about 90-degree angles. Your front foot is flat on the ground but your back foot only touches the ground with the front part. If you struggle with balance, you can use your arms or put your feet wider apart horizontally speaking.
- Push yourself back into starting position. Most of the force will come from your front leg.
- Complete your set with the leg on one side and repeat the same number of repetitions on the other side.
You want to make sure you work each leg equally. This will help you avoid strength and mass imbalances.
If you find lunges currently too hard, you can also start with bodyweight squats. These will be easier since both of your legs will carry your weight instead of mainly one.
You can do lunges in many different ways. A few examples of other variations include:
- Walking lunges: Instead of keeping your two feet on the ground, you take lunge steps forward. This can benefit glute muscle growth and allow you to do more repetitions in a shorter amount of time.
- Jump lunges: The way you train your muscles changes what fitness component you focus on. By jumping you focus more on muscle power instead of muscle strength and endurance.
- Side lunges: Instead of stepping forward, lateral lunges require you to step sideways. This engages your inner and outer thigh muscles slightly more.
- Curtsy lunges: Instead of having your back foot straight behind you, it goes sideways behind the support leg. This engages your outer thigh muscles slightly more.
- Bulgarian split squats: Lunges with your back foot on an elevated object. This puts more weight on your front leg and is more challenging for balance and coordination.
If you don’t have any specific training goals, starting with the regular lunge or Bulgarian split squats tends to be a good idea.
Muscles worked with lunges
Some of the primary muscles worked with lunges include:
- Quadriceps (front thighs)
- Glutes (butt)
- Hamstrings (back thighs)
Some of the secondary muscles worked with lunges include:
- Hip abductors (outer thighs)
- Hip adductors (inner thighs)
- To some extent core muscles like your abs, obliques, and erector spinae
To actually grow and strengthen your quadriceps, glutes, and hamstrings, you still need to pressure these muscles with enough weight, reps, and sets.
How many lunges you should do depends on what you are trying to achieve.
For example, to grow the main leg muscles you work, you should do around 3 to 6 sets of 6 to 25 lunges per leg.
If needed, you can hold some type of weight or wear a weighted vest to make these repetitions challenging enough.
These things mean that a simple-to-remember routine like 100 lunges a day could actually offer decent results.
One thing to note about this is that your leg muscles may benefit from an extra rest day or two in between lunge workouts.
Benefits of lunges
Some people underestimate how good adding an exercise routine to their life can be. A few of the benefits lunges offer include:
- Stronger muscles: Lunges in combination with a good workout program can help you grow and strengthen important leg muscles.
- Helps you avoid muscle asymmetries: Lunges work the muscles of one leg at a time. This can help you avoid training one leg more than the other which would lead to muscle imbalances.
- Can help with losing weight: Doing lunges requires more energy than typical activities. Extra muscle mass helps with this too. The result is that lunges can help you lose weight if your habits in other areas are good enough.
- Balance and coordination: You may find lunges challenging in terms of balance and coordination. If that is the case, consistently doing this exercise can help you improve your skills in these areas.
- Add a lot of resistance without equipment: Because lunges put your entire body weight on one leg at a time, they offer more muscle growth and strength potential than two-legged bodyweight exercises like squats.
Lunges are not the only exercise that offers these benefits but they can definitely be a great option. Adding these to your routine can definitely be worth it.
At the same time, you may want to know what some of these other exercise options are. Some of the alternatives to lunges include:
- Jump lunges
- Bulgarian split squats
- Pistol squats
- Single-leg press
Details like your training goals and what equipment you have available will influence what lunge exercise alternatives you prefer.
Is the lunge a good exercise?
The lunge is a great exercise for growing and strengthening your quadriceps, glutes, and hamstrings. One of their more unique benefits is that lunges offer a nice amount of resistance without equipment.
You may also see nice improvements in terms of balance and coordination by doing this exercise.
At the same time, it is worth mentioning that some people will need to add weights to lunges anyway to see their desired results.
Additionally, certain lunge variations, bodyweight quadricep exercises, and other alternatives will put the muscles worked through a bigger range of motion under tension.
This tends to be more effective for growing and strengthening muscles.
Lastly, some people will find lunges uncomfortable on their knees.
If this applies to you, you can start with isometric (static) quad exercises and/or lunges with a smaller range of motion.
What are lunges good for?
Lunges are good for growing and strengthening your quadriceps, glutes, and hamstrings without a lot of fitness equipment. Additionally, they can help improve your balance.