Split Squats Vs Lunges: Which Is A Better Lower Body Exercise?

a group of women exercising

Split squats vs lunges? Wonder what is better for the lower body? Are both the same? Which one gets you bigger quadriceps? Do they work upon the same group of muscles?

Get to know all about the split squats vs lunges. And appreciate the difference between them to know when to use which exercise.

Some of the biggest muscles of the body are in the lower part of the body. Interestingly, the quadriceps, the hamstrings, and the calves are not only big, but they need to be strong and resilient too.

Ideally, the lower body needs as much care and exercise as the upper body, probably a little more since it is the lower body muscles that bear the body weight and are responsible for movements.

The lower body exercises:

  • Improves the overall fitness of the body
  • The endurance of the body also improves substantially.
  • Along with this, it boosts the metabolism rate of the body. Typically, the big muscles of the lower body consume and burn much more energy than the smaller muscles of the upper body.
  • Make bone and the joints healthier and more robust.

Squats are a very popular exercise of the lower body. Without the squats, the lower body workout is incomplete. To increase effectiveness and reduce boredom, variations in exercise is common.

So, along with the squats, we have split squats and lunges for the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes. Though the lunges and split squats and the lunges look similar, there is lots of difference between them. Let us look into the details as we go further.

Split Squats vs Lunges: What Is A Split Squat?

split squat vs lunge: split squat

A split squat is a variation of the classic squat. Ideally, in the standard squat, we stand with the feet, shoulder-width apart. The toes can be turned 15 to 30 degrees outwards for better balance. The body has to be erect but not tight. Holding the chest out and the chin up, slowly stretch your hands farther out in the front. Now, move your hips first, trying to take it as back as possible. Then start bending your knees.

Bend the knees and lower the body, till your glutes go below the knee. Generally, the knees should not extend beyond the toes, but some trainers say that it is not critical. Even if the knee remains behind the toe line, it still engages the glutes very well.

Variation

A variation of this traditional squat is the split squat, in which both the legs are not in line. To execute the split squat, stand comfortably with your legs slightly apart. Move forward with one leg to take a comfortable step. Next, bend the forward knee down so that the thigh of the forward leg makes a ninety-degree angle with the shin of the forward leg.

At the same time, lower the torso, vertically down and straight.  And then bend the back knee so that the hamstring of the back leg makes a 90 degrees angle with the shin of the back leg.

It is the typical 90-90 position of the split squat. Keep the hands dangling on the side. If required, you can hold the dumbbells in the hands for added resistance. The back knee should be just short of touching the ground. In this position, 85 -90% of the body weight is on the forward leg, specifically on the quadriceps.

Keeping the back and torso straight, raise the body, and straighten both the legs. DO NOT bring the forward leg back to the original position. From that cross-legged stance, again, go down to make the 90- 90 position. Hold yourself in the position for a few seconds and come back to the crossed-legged stance. Do about 8 -10 repetitions and then retrace the forward leg back.

Next, take the other leg forward and repeat the split squat with the other leg.  This exercise is a variation of the split squat. Additionally, you can carry dumbbells in the hands or barbell on the shoulder when you do split squats.

The Advantages Of Split Squat

As the IFPA Fitness says, generally, the split squat is a compound exercise. It is because it engages the glutes, quadriceps, and the hamstrings muscles of the legs. However, the prime mover or the agonist’s muscle is the quadriceps. The key differentiation between the squat and split squat is the unilateral work out of one leg.

  • In the split squat, almost 85-90% of the body load is on the front leg, mainly shared by the quadriceps. Hence it results in an intense workout of the quads and also gives excellent muscle growth and size.
  • The poise and balance of the body increase considerably. The core muscles are also engaged, and a large number of muscles of the lower body get exercised.
  • It improves the flexibility of the body.
  • The range of hip motion is substantially enhanced. Because of the up and down movement of the hips with extended legs, the adductor and abductor muscles also come into play.
  • Since one leg used at a time, the intensity of the workout also increases.

Split Squats vs Lunges:  What Is Lunge?

a woman that squats

A lunge is also a workout of the leg. It is a compound exercise, meaning it works on more than one muscle at a time. Along with the quadriceps as the agonist muscle (prime mover), it also works on the hamstring and calves.

It has similarities with the split squat. But it is an altogether different exercise, with its own set of benefits.

To begin, stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart. In the bodyweight exercise, keep the hands on the hips.

Take one step forward with the left leg and land on the heel. Then, gradually shift the weight on the full feet. Bend the knee of the front leg and lower the body down. Simultaneously, bend the hind leg at the knee and lower the knee, just short of touching the ground. Hold the body still at this position for some moments and then put the force on the heel of the front foot and pull up the body to the starting position.

Now repeat the whole process with the right leg forward. It completes one repetition of the exercise, and like this, one can do eight to twelve repetitions one set.

The Advantages Of Lunges

Lunges form part of the lower body routine. And interestingly, Lunges are very popular among the enthusiast as well as determined bodybuilders for the following reasons:

  • Lunges are also a unilateral type of exercise. And it helps in removing an imbalance between the strength and performance of the two sides of the body.
  • Lunges are one of the few exercises which help develop the balance and poise of the body. Besides, it also takes care of muscular development. Generally, most workouts just focus on the muscles, and balance is neglected.
  • The form and execution of this exercise are very similar to walking. These are known as functional exercise Since these improve the day to day movement and strength of the body.
  • It is one of the few exercises which work out the Hip flexors.
  • The gluteal muscles are isolated and engaged very well in the lunges.
  • The lunges engage the core muscles and make them work out very well. Most of the weight lifting exercises do that. But because of its unique pose, the lunges improve the stability and strength of the core muscles.
  • Typically, most weight lifting exercises tend to strain and load the spine. However, the lunges unload the spine and allow it to relax and recover after heavy workouts.
  • It indirectly aids weight loss. The lunges work big muscles. Consequently, the metabolism rate increases significantly. Hence the body fat is burnt faster and weight loss results.
  • Lunges significantly improve the posture, and the person feels and looks taller.
  • Improves stamina
  • The bone and the hip and the knee joint become stronger.

The Differences Between Split Squats vs Lunges

Objectively, there does not seem to be any difference between the split and the lunges. According to Dale Maynor Fitness Training, the form, pose, and execution seems very similar. However, there exists a convincing difference between the two.

  • The split squat is a stationary exercise. In this, like in the squat, you are rooted in your stance. However, in the case of lunges, you move your leg forward, every time, when you begin the exercise. The movement also alternates between the two legs. So, you are not rooted to the ground in case of the lunges.
  • The split squat has a more significant effect on the quadriceps than the lunges. Since the quadriceps intensely loaded in the split squat. The muscle hypertrophy is higher in the case of the split squats.
  • The split squat tones the legs better than the lunges. However, lunges help develop more power in the legs than the split squats. The to and from the motion of the legs is responsible for the higher strength in the legs.
  • The split squats are a bit easier to perform than the lunges. Besides, maintaining the balance and poise of the body is more challenging in the case of the lunges. Hence, we see that lunges help develop better poise and stance. Also, the engagement of the core muscles is higher in the case of lunges.
  • The split squats are effortless and safer for the knee ligaments and tendons. But lunges can strain the knee tendons and ligaments considerably.
  • Lunges also work the nervous system as compared to the split squat.
  • Lunges improve the performance of athletes and runners. Split squats are more suited for bodybuilders.
  • Lunges stretch and work the hamstrings more than the split squat.

Which Is A Better Exercise?

Which is better is a rather tricky call to take. Both the lunges and split squat have their benefits and drawbacks.

This idea of comparing the two exercises probably comes to the mind because they work on the same muscle. So the curiosity to know which is more efficient or better?

Both do work on the same set of muscles. But how they work on the muscles is different. Another consideration is the reason to work out one’s lower body.

Someone could be looking to develop power and endurance in the legs. For, e.g., a soccer player or a runner, then lunges are better than the split squats.

But if someone is looking at the size and strength of the muscle then, split squat steals the show.

The split squat would be a better choice for all those who are little unsteady on their feet and not very balanced. It is because lunges test your sense of balance.

At instances, the intent is to develop a good range of movement and involve the Hip flexors.  Then again, lunges would be a better choice over the split squat.

The split squats would probably be more popular with the girls as it tones the legs better than the lunges.

Neither very young nor very strong people should opt for split squat rather than lunges. Since the chances of knee ligament injury are higher in case of lunges. Excessive fatigue and overworking are also associated with lunges.

It is neither appropriate nor possible to determine which is a better exercise out of the two. Conclusively, both serve different purposes and are meant for different kinds of people.

Conclusion

We at the Healthy Zoom, believe that both the split squats and the lunges are amazing exercises. Their variations add fantastic utility to the workout routine.

One should objectively analyze the goal of doing the exercise. This decision alone will help choose between the split squats and lunges. One should also take into consideration one’s physical strength and flexibility before deciding on lunges or split squats.

The physical makeup and constitution of everybody are different. Therefore, one has to make decisions based on facts rather than a fad.

Finally, it would be much advisable to consult your trainer or coach and discuss the suitability of the exercise.

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