Lunges vs Squats for Leg Development

Lunges vs SquatsHave you ever wondered if you should do lunges vs squats for leg development? Is one better than the other? They’re obviously two very different exercises. However, does that mean they should be looked at as compliments to or replacements for one another? This article will look at Lunges vs squats, why they’re different, and when (if?) you should choose one over the other.

Squats – The “King of All Exercises”

Squats are often called the “king of all exercises” because of the sheer size and strength they can develop. In fact, many don’t consider them just a Leg Exercise, but an overall body builder as your torso and upper body are so heavily involved in supporting the weight. There are various types of squats you can do including:

  • Low-bar, wide stance (like a powerlifter)
  • High-bar, narrow stance, heels elevated, toes pointing out (like an Olympic lifter)
  • High-bar, moderate stance, heels elevated, toes pointing forward (like a bodybuilder)
  • Front squats

If size and strength are your main objectives, and you’re comparing Lunges vs squats, squats will win out every time. The main reason is simply because you can use way more weight, and more weight will lead to more size and strength.

Lunges – Getting Targeted and Athletic

Lunges are most bodybuilders’ introduction to single leg work. While you can’t get quite as good of a stretch with lunges (forward or reverse) as you can split squats, they are a much more athletic movement than barbell squats. This is because they require more balance and involve moving your body forward and backward instead of just up and down.

Though when comparing lunges vs squats, squats win out in the overall strength department, lunges are actually more preferable for developing “driving” power. This is because when in the lunged position, you have to contract the quadricep and glute harder to move your entire body weight. This action mimics many athletic activities, which makes it the better choice if that’s your goal. Some lifters will also say that lunges tend to work the VMO (teardrop muscles just above the knee) better. You can also vary your stride length – the shorter stride will target the quadriceps more, while the longer stride will target the glutes more.

Should You Lunge or Squat?

In the end, it doesn’t have to be some sort of “lunges vs squats showdown”. Squats are always going to be a better pick for overall mass and increased strength – just pick the version that best applies to your main goals. However, you should choose lunges for their athleticism, increased balance, and to potentially improve muscle quality – they also pass for a killer Cardio workout.

Unless you simply don’t have access to a barbell or power rack, you should have both in your program. And it doesn’t matter if you’re an athlete or a bodybuilder – lunges and squats are virtually perfect compliments to one another. Start with heavy squats for 3-5 sets x 5-6 reps for strength. Then do lunges as assistance work for 3-4 sets x 8-10 reps with each leg.

In addition to squats and lunges, add in some Hamstring curls, leg extensions and some calf work and you’ll have trouble walking the next day.

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