Are Lunges Good For Weight Loss?

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Working out can benefit the weight loss process but not all options have the same effects. Find out whether lunges are good for weight loss.

When it comes to burning a lot of calories during the workout itself, the lunge exercise is decent but not too impressive either.

One rough estimation is that a 185-pound (83 kg) person would burn around 166 calories while doing bodyweight lunges for 30 minutes.

That being said, a lot of the weight loss benefits of this exercise come from the extra muscle mass you can build. This extra mass helps you burn more calories throughout the day.

Additionally, to build muscle you would likely do weighted lunges. By moving extra weight, you would also burn more calories than the rough estimation above implies.

Because lunges can help you build a lot of muscle mass, you can consider this to be a good exercise for weight loss.

At the same time, you also want to pay enough attention to other lifestyle habits like your diet and consider other exercises for different areas and fitness components.

How lunges can help you lose weight

While most people will realize this already, it is worth noting that exercises like lunges have the potential to help you lose weight and/or speed up your results.

To lose weight, you need to make it so your body needs more energy to function than is coming in from food. By doing this, you make it so your body starts using energy stores like body fat to get the remaining needs.

That being said, there are multiple ways workouts can make it so you use up more energy.

First of all, basically any form of moving more intensely will require more energy from your body. Even standing up burns more calories than sitting down.

Secondly, doing lunges with the right repetitions and resistance can help you build muscle mass. This will be the main way this exercise is useful for weight loss.

A big factor in how many calories you burn throughout the day is how much you weigh. By adding healthy mass with lunges, everything you do can burn more calories.

There are other ways lunges can help you lose weight too but the two above are the most relevant ones.

Additionally, keep in mind that other lifestyle habits like your diet still play a big role in whether or not and to what extent you will lose weight.

Two women doing lunges

How many calories lunges burn compared to other workouts

The question is not only whether or not lunges can be helpful for weight loss. You only have a certain amount of time you can spend on working out so how they compare to alternatives matters too.

There are ways to make rough estimations about how many calories lunges burn during the workout.

One downside of these predictions is that they are inevitably not always accurate. The calculation methods do not take differences in body composition, hormone levels, weight used, intensity, etc. into account.

Additionally, a big part of the weight loss benefits of lunges come from the muscle mass you can build. However, the estimations only apply to during the workout.

That being said, even if you should not take them too seriously, the numbers below can help you get an idea of how lunges compare to other workouts in terms of calorie-burning during the exercises.

The following numbers are an estimation for a 155-pound person doing the exercises for 30 minutes (1):

  • Bodyweight lunges: 139 calories
  • Water Aerobics: 149 calories
  • Stretching (Hatha Yoga): 186 calories
  • Rowing, Stationary (moderate): 260 calories
  • Bicycling, Stationary (moderate): 260 calories
  • Elliptical Trainer (general): 335 calories
  • Running 5.2 mph: 335 calories
  • Jumping rope: 372 calories
  • Swimming (breaststroke): 372 calories

These numbers make it clear that resistance training exercises like lunges are not too impressive when it comes to burning calories during the workout.

Even so, because the leg muscles you can grow with lunges are relatively big, there is a lot of room for mass increases.

In turn, this makes lunges more effective for weight loss than the numbers above imply.

How many lunges should you do to lose weight?

From the numbers above you could conclude that how many lunges you should do to lose weight is just as many as physically possible.

However, keep in mind that a lot of the calorie-burning from lunges comes from the extra muscle mass they can help you build.

So if your main goal is to lose weight, you would implement lunge repetition and set ranges that help you build a lot of muscle mass. This is definitely not just as many as possible.

Instead, you should do around 3 to 6 sets of 6 to 25 lunges with weights with a weight where you can barely complete these ranges.

Additionally, most people want to implement at least one rest day in between workouts like this.

There are still other benefits of doing lunges every day but to repair and grow the muscles you worked, your body needs time (and nutrients).

Woman doing the lunge exercise to lose weight

Where can you expect the weight loss results from lunges?

Many people have the impression that you can influence in what areas you lose fat by doing specific exercises. Find out whether this is the case for lunges.

Do lunges burn belly fat?

Unfortunately, it is typically not possible to target fat loss in significant amounts where it is worth actually focusing on this.

To lose fat, you first have to make it so your body starts using this type of energy store. Lunges can help you get to this point and speed up results but keep in mind that other lifestyle habits like your diet still matter.

After that, what areas you lose fat from is mostly a case of genetics and how far you are in your weight loss journey.

For example, the human body tends to “like” storing fat around its waist and hips. Someone who has a lot of extra pounds to lose will tend to notice a lot of fat loss in other areas first.

So, at some point, lunges can help you burn belly fat. However, this exercise will not target this area specifically.

Do lunges slim your thighs?

The same concept from above applies to thigh fat. However, when it comes to slimming your thighs with lunges, there is something else to keep in mind.

Lunges mainly work muscles like your quadriceps (front thighs) and to some extent glutes (butt), hamstrings (back thighs), inner thighs, and outer thighs.

That means lunges can grow the muscles in your thighs.

More muscle mass involves burning more calories and often makes you look toned.

However, there are theoretical situations where you would not make fat loss progress and grow your thigh muscles with lunges at the same time. This would make your thighs slightly bigger.

Should you do lunges for weight loss?

If you are trying to burn as many calories as possible during your workouts, lunges are not the most impressive exercise. For this, cardiovascular exercises like running and cycling tend to be better.

That being said, when losing weight, the number of calories you burn during your workout is not the only detail that matters.

Because lunges have the potential to help you build a lot of muscle mass, they can be a good choice for weight loss.

However, you do need to approach this exercise in a smart way to achieve this goal. Randomly doing 100 lunges a day with just your body weight is typically not optimal for building muscle mass.

Additionally, you may see more muscle growth results from one of the many lunge alternatives.

Next, even if you implement a good lunge workout routine, it can be smart to implement resistance training exercises for other muscles and cardiovascular workouts.

Lastly, you need to keep in mind that other lifestyle habits like your diet play a big role in the weight loss process.

You can have a great workout routine and still gain weight with suboptimal habits in these other areas.

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Matt Claes founded Weight Loss Made Practical to help people get in shape and stay there after losing 37 pounds and learning the best of the best about weight loss, health, and longevity for over 4 years. Over these years he has become an expert in nutrition, exercise, and other physical health aspects.