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Muscles Worked With Lunges

Most people know that strength training exercises like lunges can help you build muscle. But what specific muscles do lunges work?

Lunges are a popular bodyweight leg exercise. To do one repetition take a big step forward so that you get into a position where both of your knees are at a 90-degree angle. Your front foot should be flat on the ground, your back foot should only touch the ground with the ball of the foot (front). Most of your weight should lean on your front leg.

Move your back foot forward to get in a regular standing position and repeat with your other leg first. Make sure you use your front leg muscles to move upward and not the momentum of your back foot.

Lunges mostly target your quadriceps (front thighs) and glutes (butt). They also engage your calves, hamstrings (back thighs), and many other secondary muscles to some extent. Lunges, bodyweight or weighted depending on your strength, can be a great addition to your leg workout plan.

How to do walking lunges

Main muscles worked with lunges

With any exercise, but especially compound exercises like lunges, you will almost always make a variety of different muscles work. Even so, there are a few muscles that will have to work the hardest for lifting, in the case of lunges, your body weight.

For most people, the quadricep muscles will be the first to fatigue when doing lunges with the right technique. Besides that, your glute muscles will have to work hard too.

Lunges and squats are very similar when it comes to what muscles you work. Squats likely engage your back muscles slightly more. With lunges you work out one leg at a time which can help you avoid muscle imbalances but can also increase the duration of your workout.

Which one of the two is best for you depends on things like your personal situation, personal preference, and training goals.

Secondary muscles worked with lunges

Lunges are a compound exercise which means that they put a wide variety of muscles under stress. For lunges, these other muscles are engaged in helping the upward movement and keeping your body in position.

Some of the secondary muscles you use during lunges to push yourself up are your calves and hamstring muscles.

Some of the secondary muscles you use during lunges for things like holding your body in position and moving your leg forward are your core muscles, erector spinae hip flexors, hip abductors, and hip adductors.

Depending on your personal situation, workout plan, and training goals, compound exercises like lunges may be a good or bad addition.

How to make lunges even harder

As a strength training beginner, and possibly even intermediate, lunges can be a great bodyweight exercise to train your quadriceps and glute muscles. That being said, at some point your body weight may stop being enough resistance to build a lot of extra muscle mass with lunges.

At this point, you need to turn to other leg exercises or make lunges harder to keep building a lot of extra muscle. Making lunges harder at the right points in your training journey can also speed up muscle growth.

The main way to do this is to do lunges weighted. This is basically doing the same exercise but with extra weights or resistance to make it harder.

You can also use free weights, preferably no-handed or one-handed weights. Some examples of these are a weighted vest, dumbbells, kettlebells, weight plates, grocery bags, etc.

The reason for this is that lunges do require some balance to do successfully. With these types of weights, you can still use your arms for balance if needed. That being said, you can definitely also use two-handed weights like a barbell for lunges.

For both bodyweight lunges and these weighted variations, to build the most muscle mass you want to do about 4 sets of 10-40 lunges depending on how advanced you are.