Correct me if I`m wrong, but not many of us are overly excited about leg days at the gym. And probably some of the most infamous leg exercises out there are the lunges. They are an absolute pain in the leg (and the butt, literally). The fact that they are truly hard to do and leave your muscles sore for days afterwards, coupled with the absence of a straightforward “yes” to the question– “Can you lose weight by doing lunges?” makes them even harder to love. However, once you come to understand all the benefits of lunges, you’ll realize that they are definitely worth the pain.
By incorporating a variety of lunges into your fitness routine, you’ll soon realize that the benefits of the lunge exercise far outweigh the effort. So let`s dig deeper into the benefits of lunges and try to convert you into true lunge fanatic
The Benefits of lunges
Most people are well aware of the benefits of squats, but considering the nature of lunges and how they incorporate complex movements across the board, there is hardly any discussion about this terrific exercise. So let’s break the silence and talk about regular lunges, walking lunges, reverse lunges, side lunges and walking lunges with weights, otherwise known as dumbbell lunges.
Lunges build muscle
One of the major benefits of lunges exercise is that it can increase your strength. Naturally, being an exercise that mainly targets the legs, lunges are perfect for developing stronger thighs, hamstrings and butt, but that is hardly all they do.
To be able to do lunges properly, you need to engage your abs and lower back muscles to stay in an upright position, which makes your core and various muscles in your body work out just as hard. And having a strong core is essential for tackling back pain and improving your posture along with balance.
If you persist with this movement and do a well-planned sequence of sets and reps, you can literally increase your lean muscle size.
Lunges improve balance and flexibility
Lunges are classified as unilateral exercises. This means that they train one side of the body independently from the other. In other words, lunges are performed with one leading leg at a time, which makes you utilize and train your balance. Trying to balance your body will in turn activate a lot of core muscles and you will soon feel the benefits of lunges all over your body.
Furthermore, lunges help you work out the hip flexors. These often become stiff as a result of a sedentary lifestyle. So, by doing lunges regularly, you’re setting yourself up for an improved everyday functioning, especially as you advance in age.
Lunges improve your spinal health
The lunge does something called deloading of the spine, and this is one of the greatest benefits of lunges as compared to other exercises. Squats and weightlifting, for example, load your spine, which, over time, can cause damage and pain. The lunge decompresses or deloads the spine, giving it a chance to relax and rest. This creates a more flexible spine, thus making lunges an excellent workout for people with back problems.
Lunges tighten your butt
Something else that the lunges are particularly good at is that they do not only strengthen your butt, but make it all shapely and nicely-toned. Despite squats being known as the primary butt-shaping exercise, lunges are just as effective, if not more so, when it comes to butt sculpting. If you are after definition, definitely incorporate the lunge.
Lunges are extremely versatile
A huge benefit of the lunges exercise is that they can be modified and adapted to different kinds of fitness levels. If, therefore, you are getting tired of the old basic lunges, or you are simply past the beginner level and want to increase your strength gains, spice the workout up by adding in some weights or dumbbells for an extra challenge.
There are many workout programs that utilize this fact, and you can see some of the most popular routines filled with lunges. We’ve written about many of them before, so rest assured that lunges are the proper exercise to follow if you want a leaner and more defined lower body.
Can you lose weight by doing lunges?
Frankly speaking, while you will definitely notice some changes in your lower body, weight loss is hardly achieved by lunges alone. However, combined with steady cardio routine, and a nicely balanced diet, lunges can definitely become the core part of your workout.
The thing is – and this is something that many people fail to realize – that lunges will work on strengthening your muscles. If you keep a nicely balanced diet and plenty of lean protein, they will help you grow some muscle tissue as well. In turn, this newly formed muscle tissue will shed plenty of your fat deposits around the butt and things.
Needless to say, your things will look toned and much more defined. And if your goal is to fit into some old jeans, or drop your dress number in general, lunges can definitely play a vital part in your journey.
If you want to exercise with nothing else but lunges, then consider some of the elimination diets as they are quite low in calories. This way, you can still lose a lot of weight while toning your entire lower body with variations of lunges.
Types of lunges
Now that we’ve seen all the incredible benefits of lunges, let’s spice things up a little. Once you’ve mastered the old front lunge, it’s time to be introduced to some of its equally effective variations. If you have started to like the idea of doing lunges, I promise that these will make you fall in love with them for good. So depending on what your fitness goals are, you can choose one of the following variations of lunges:
These work the same muscles,but one of the benefits of walking lunges as compared to stationary ones is that you are moving your body weight through different ranges of motion – not only up-and-down but forward as well. Because you are transferring weight, and your upper-body must remain upright, you are using all your stabilizer and core muscles when you do a walking lunge to a far greater degree than just going up-and-down.
Because it requires greater coordination, balance and body control, the walking lunge is a progression upon the stationary lunge and much more compound of a movement. It is also much better as a metabolic conditioning exercise, as it will get your heart rate up long before you muscle fatigue sets in.
The reverse lunges are generally easier to control, which is why many trainers believe that they are more suitable for beginners. The main difference between the reverse and the forward lunge is that the former uses the leg that is stepping forward as the main driver of force, while with the latter the stationary leg is the main powerhouse.
In other words, with forward lunges you need to activate your core more in order to keep your body stable. Additionally, if you suffer from knee pain, you will be more glad to welcome the benefits of reverse lunges, as the forward lunge puts greater pressure on multiple joints in the knee compared to the reverse lunge. The back lunge causes lesser flexion of the knee, which leads to less compression on the knee joint.
Side lunges can be challenging for those of you with tight groins, hips and ankles. But the more you do this lunge variation, the more you’ll resolve these issues and the sooner you’ll start to enjoy the benefits of side lunges. This move will help you open up your hips and stretch your groin area. Finally you’ll also strengthen your glutes and inner thighs.
If you want to learn more lunge variations, make sure to visit this detailed guide by Greatist, where you’ll get introduced to a whooping 32 types of lunges.
How do you like the benefits of doing lunges?
Many people get easily obsessed with choosing between lunges and squats. Is one better than the other? Well, instead of trying to avoid one exercise why not do both? The squat is undisputed when it comes to exercises targeting the lower body, so make sure to leave room for at least one set of 12 repetitions, if nothing more.
Do me a favor and think about the benefits of squats and lunges together. These two workouts can complement one another helping you achieve results far beyond what you’ll get with only one of them.
In our own fitness program we’ve strategically mixed plenty of lunge variations with squats and other leg exercises, in order to create thighs and butt. If you like to check the program, just follow the link bellow and get ready to enter the best shape of your life with the help of our holistic fitness platform – we include everything from videos, and guidance, to motivation, progress tracking and nutrition.
But to wrap this up and leave you more room for the workout ahead, let’s do a recap of the benefits of lunges:
- lunges build muscle
- lunges improve balance and flexibility
- lunges improve coordination
- lunges improve your spinal health
- lunges tighten your butt
- lunges are versatile enough to cover many different muscle groups at once
Whether your goal is to achieve a toned lower body, core strength, increased muscle tissue or greater hip flexibility, not to mention those perfect buttocks you always dreamed of, the lunge is one exercise you should never skip.
With or without weights just remember to keep your knees behind your toe, or (moderately forward when stretching for the hip flexors).
Finally, let me repeat this once again – if you want to drop a size or two and you are wondering about the benefits of lunges for weight-loss, bear in mind that lunges constitute strength training. They will do wonders for toning and sculpting some of the muscles in your thighs, hips and butt, but losing weight in those areas is impossible without losing fat across the entire the body.
The best strategy is to keep your diet healthy, watch your calories intake and do regular cardio, supplemented with thigh and hip targeted exercises, like lunges. Once you start this routine, you’ll soon fall in love with the benefits of lunges.