Some people love leg day, while others hate it but they share one in common that’s working out their legs. People that hate training their legs tend to look for an easier exercise that will have the same effect on their legs but with less energy expenditure and easier to be done.
In one of these searches, people come across split squat vs lunge and often wonder split squat vs lunge who is the winner, what’s the difference, are they good exercises, should they be in your program, etc. By the time you read this article, you will be done with all these questions.
First of all, if people hate these exercises why do they include them in their workout program? unlike any other leg movement, these exercises offer a good muscle engagement in quad, hamstrings, and glutes which other movement fails to provide simultaneously. So why would you go through the extra miles by doing different exercises trying to hit the same muscle group? Another benefit of doing these exercises is that when an exercise is performed with a single leg you eliminate the problem of muscle imbalance, and see an increase in muscle gain as well as in muscle endurance.
Now you’re wondering split squat vs lunge, which one is better or what to choose that goes in hand with your goals. Both of these exercises are great the only reason you don’t have them in your program is that doing these movements causes you pain. Many people think to train their lower body they just need to do squats and deadlifts and they couldn’t be more wrong.
Developing single-leg strength and stability is a must as many sports and lives revolve around taking one step at a time. So without further ado let’s get started with the difference…
Split squats vs lunge
The muscle targeted and the stance are the same but if there weren’t any major differences between the two of them, you wouldn’t be here.
The movement itself
The first major difference between these two exercises is the movement itself. In lunges your feet moves and in the split squats they don’t. To do the split squat you just have to take one big step to get into the starting position, then your movement is restricted to moving up and down by bending your knees.
While in lunges you step forward or backward depending upon the type of lunges you’re doing it maybe be forward or reverse. While doing these steps you push your body back into the starting position that is standing straight with the leg positioned shoulder-width apart. The great way to remember the difference between the two is that in split squats your movements are like an elevator going up and down, but in lunges, your movement is like an escalator moving downward diagonally. So this makes your split squat a static movement and lunges be slight towards dynamic.
In lunges, both of the legs will be sharing the workload as both legs will be helping with the push and the pull movement that is required in stepping. The direction doesn’t matter as both of the legs will be involved to complete one rep.
In the split squat, your main focus would be on the front leg because the movement in the back leg will be close to minimal its sole purpose would be to provide support as you bend down to get in a squat position.
In split squat vs lunge, lunges have to upper hand when it comes to training both legs simultaneously but that stepping movement consumes more energy when compared to split squats.
In terms of strength lift, I would suggest doing split squats because you can load weight and because the minimal back leg movement makes it easier to do with heavyweights. In lunges, it is difficult to go heavy because of the movement involved that causes body imbalance.
The muscle worked
When you take a step forward to do a lunge, the muscle situated in the thigh of the front leg will be doing two things simultaneously that is your front leg muscle has to break to decelerate your froward falling, and then they have to contract the muscle as you slowing move into a lunge and push yourself back into the starting position. The combination of both, decelerate and concentric push movement is a lot of pressure on your front leg but when you do reverse lunges, this pressure is evenly distributed between both legs. The back leg focuses on decelerating and the front leg focuses on pushing so you can return to the starting position.
Since lunge allows you to move forward and backward you’ll be able to target more muscle like when you do forward lunges your main focus will be on quads, and when you do reverse lunge your muscle worked would be hamstrings and glutes. Lunges is a great exercise for targeting your lower body as a one also lunges has more than 30 variations if you want to keep things interesting.
In the case of split squats, it is a great exercise for beginners as they can take advantage of the stable form before they take lunges on with improper form. There are two variations in split squats, the first one is a normal single leg split squat in this your stabilizing legs come out in the front also in single leg split squats both of your feet will be planted on the ground, while in the other variation that is Bulgarian split squats your stabilizing leg is behind you on an elevated surface. A Bulgarian split squat allows you to hit more depths when compared to a single-leg squat.
Split squats are great for a person who wants to hone and target his quads more. So in split squat vs lunge, when it comes to training you’re lower body as whole lunges have the upper hand but if you want to create more muscle focus on quads then you should go with split squats.
You can measure the development of your muscle by noticing an increase in muscle size, strength, and endurance. So let us see what effects do split squats and lunges have on your muscle or who’s the winner of split squat vs lunge when it comes to muscle development.
Split squats – If your goal is to achieve muscle hypertrophy and strength then you should go with split squats as it allows the person to take on heavier weights with a stable form too, that’s something a lunge won’t offer. You can go with a heavier dumbbell or keep racking your barbell to full without worrier about your balance as you have to do in the lunge.
Another great muscle change you will see with split squats is “power”. Since you have been exploding your quads with heavier weights. That is something you won’t be able to achieve with lunges because there is too much movement involved.
Lunges – Doing a lunge involves more body movement than it is in the split squat so eventually your body gets used to such movement leading you to gain increased endurance in your muscle. Due to an increase in movement you used extra energy which in turn elevates your heart rate so lunges will also improve your cardiovascular health. In lunges, it’s quite hard to go heavy and do it with good form due to that as you do lunges with lightweight you will be able to do more reps than in turn will increase your muscle endurance.
In lunges, you can be moving forward, backward, or even in a lateral direction that will help you with improving your body balance and flexibility so when it comes to sports it will be a great help but with split squats, you get explosive power that will help you jump higher and run faster.
So in split squat vs lunge, when it comes to endurance lunges have the upper hand but when your goal is to develop muscle strength split squat is the right choice. These are all the differences I know when it comes to the split squat vs lunge.
Benefits of split squat & lunges
now that we are past the difference there are some similar benefits of split squat vs lunge that you should know about.
Improved body balance
Split squat, as well as lunges both, require movement that causes somewhat body imbalance but as you include them in your workout program and do them with enough repetition you will notice an improvement in doing those exercise movements that will be due to improvement in body balance.
Challenging small muscle in hip & legs
Depending upon the person’s goal he/she may choose to do a split squat or lunge but in both movements, your body will be put into a staggered stance, a stance to which most weight lifters aren’t comfortable when compared to square or bilateral stance. So when you do these exercises they do improve your core strength and also put extra pressure on the small muscle that is situated in the hips & legs. When you train those small muscles, the next time to do other lifts you will notice an improvement in your body stability.
Can be done anywhere
In split squat vs lunge, when it comes to accessibility it’s a tie. All you need is space enough to jumping jacks if you have that you can do split squats and lunges without any problem unlike other exercises where you need proper equipment but with these exercises, even two water jugs of the same weight will do the trick.
Both of the exercises are more than good so when it comes to picking a winner from split squat vs lunge it all depends upon the person’s goal. If your goal is balanced with strength go with lunges if your goal is to isolate quads and grow muscles then split squats that mean you have to decide the winner from split squat vs lunge.
To avoid any kind of injury and have a smooth and faster recovery try including after workout stretching and doesn’t matter how hard the exercise is or you lack motivation whatever the reason do not skip legs day. That’s the end of the split squat vs lunge, I hope you got all of your questions answered.