Lunges are a simple, yet effective way to build lower body and core strength. Better yet, there are so many variations to the lunge, allowing you to program lunges into nearly every leg and core workout without you getting bored or plateauing. But how many lunges a day is appropriate?
Lunges can be incorporated into any workout program, no matter what your goals are. In order to know exactly how many lunges a day you should perform, depends on your exact goals. Are you looking to build strength or gain muscle mass? If you are an intermediate or advanced gym goer or weightlifter, you can aim for anything between 3 sets of 3 or 4 sets of 12as it all depends on your goal. If you are only using your body weight, go for more sets and repetitions in order to create positive adaptations to your muscular system. If you are adding load to your lunges through use of a barbell, dumbbell, kettlebell, etc. then shoot for lower sets and repetitions. These suggested sets and reps, or volume of work, follows what research states about strength and hypertrophy training. A review and analysis of research for strength and hypertrophy training found that at least 2-3 sets is effective for either goal. However, the repetitions within those sets will vary depending on your goal; strength or hypertrophy. To build your strength, go heavier with less repetitions, between 1 to 6 reps for at least 2 to 3 sets. And to build muscle mass, go slightly lighter with more repetitions, between 8 to 12 reps for at least 2 to 3 sets.
Building strength and gaining muscle mass are only two outcomes of adding lunges to your workout program. Lunges can also build endurance and help with weight loss. What should you do if your goal is speed up your weight loss?
Are lunges good for weight loss?
Essentially any exercise you do can be good for weight loss, including lunges. Do them heavy enough or fast enough, your body will continue to burn calories even after you are done working out.
This is because your body goes into an oxygen debt during high intensity, heavy exercise. Once you are done working out, your body works to replenish your energy stores back to your normal resting level. This is known as excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC). As your body is using more oxygen to replenish your energy stores, you continue to burn calories.
So if you do lunges heavy enough or fast enough, you are without a doubt, adding to your EPOC.
Combine lunges with other high intensity workouts, such as interval training, full body movements, or add a heavy load to your lunge to have the most impact on your weight loss.
As always, watch your nutrition as well. Heavy, fast lunges everyday can’t undo poor nutrition, especially when weight loss is your goal.
Can I do lunges every day?
It would be more beneficial to not do lunges everyday. During any effective resistance training exercise, the muscle groups involved actually develop microtears. As these microtears heal, you make improvements in your strength and muscle mass. In order to allow these microtears to heal you do need adequate rest.
Rest can come in the form of taking full rest days between exercising, alternating upper body and lower body days, or taking active recovery days.
Active recovery days include activities like easy walking, bike, yoga, or other mobility work. During active recovery days, the overall stress to the body is low and can help with post-exercise soreness, increase circulation, and decrease stiffness.
Lunges may actually be included in active recovery days, but with the intent of stretching your hips, not fatiguing your muscles. With that being said, lunges may be performed a handful of times a week; strength days, as part of a high intensity interval training day, or a part of your rest day. But avoid doing lunges every day for the best results.
Do lunges get easier?
The more you do something, the easier it gets. Same with lunges. At first lunges may be difficult, not just from a strength perspective but from a balance and mobility perspective as well.
When first adding lunges to your training program, use your body weight and practice the form and technique. Find balance between both legs without falling over to the side. Ensure you have enough range of motion in your hips to have the appropriate stance length and depth of your lunge.
Once you have mastered the initial form and technique required for the perfect lunge, you can then add weight. As this weight becomes easier, progress the weight, or hold the weight in different positions.
As long as you are consistently progressing and overloading your lunge variation, your lunges will go from feeling easier, to being challenged. If lunges are feeling easy, it may be time to bump up your intensity.
Are lunges better than squats?
The lunge versus the squat, a constant battle. What one is better? Is it possible to pick both?
While there is limited EMG data when comparing lunges to squats, what research there is, does point to the lunge as having more muscular activation when compared to the squat. And interesting to note from another EMG study is that a longer stride length in the lunge is more effective at muscular activation when compared to a shorter stride length or to a squat.
One could argue that while a lunge seems to have more muscular activation, the squat is a more stable position, allowing an athlete to add more load to the squat than to any variation of a lunge.
Both work well for lower extremity and core strength. Lunge has more of a balance component to it while squats allow you to add more external load. The answer may be, doing both is better than one over the other.
What if lunges bother my knees? If lunges bother your knees, you may need to stretch your quads and strengthen your hips. Stretching will help to take pressure off your knee and strengthening your hips will help stabilize your whole leg. You may want to decrease the depth of your lunge while working on these 2 things.
Can I grow the size of my quads with lunges? If muscle gain is your goal, shoot for 8-12 reps for at least 2-3 sets with added weight in order to have the most success. Don’t forget to apply the progressive overload principle to avoid plateauing.