Smutty Fitness: Squats or Lunges?
I'll keep it short: squats or lunges? (or both?)
BOTH! In my opinion you can never do enough lunges or squats. Adding in deadlifts and step-ups also won’t hurt.
Our legs are composed of lots and lots of muscles (which I just spent 12 hours this past weekend studying) and all have specific jobs. We have lots of little muscles that are deep inside our bodies and provide support to our hips, back and thighs (femur bone), all of which play an important role in both squats and lunges. But, if you are looking for a strong and shapely leg, these are the exercises you want to focus on.
Squat – Main muscles targeted are the hamstrings, quadriceps, and glutes
Begin in a standing position with your feet shoulder width apart. When performing a squat, there are a few things that you must be aware of, the first of which is what is going on in your feet. It is very important that you maintain a high arch in your foot as you are lowering your hips towards the ground, and that your body weight finds its way into your heels and stays out of your toes.
Next you want to look at what your knees are doing. When you are performing a squat properly, your kneecaps should remain behind your toes, lining up with the second toe.
The last thing to make sure you are doing correctly is maintaining a neutral spine position while squatting. You want to try and drop your hips to at least 90 degrees while ensuring that you maintain a healthy lordodic curve in your lower back.
As you push yourself back up from the squatting position you want the power to come directly from your glutes. I like to imagine someone’s hands positioned underneath my glutes and they are pushing me back up towards the ceiling. Again, the neutral spine plays an important role in the movement as you stand up and you should feel your core muscles working to maintain this.
Start with body weight, working up to 3 sets of 20 and then progress to using dumbbells or a squat rack for added weight.
Lunge – Main muscles targeted are glutes, hamstrings, quads and calves
Begin with your feet hip width apart, with one foot forward and one foot back, elevated onto the toes. You should have about 80 percent of your body weight positioned on the front foot and the remaining on the back.
Just like the squat you need to be aware of what your front foot is doing. Ensure that you have a high arch and that your body weight finds the outside part of your foot.
You also want to watch your front and back knee. Your front knee should remain on its axis, in line with your second toe, making sure it is not extending forward of your toes. Your back knee should drop straight down towards the ground, with your body weight travelling down, not forward.
Once your front leg has reached a 90 degree bend then again, just like in the squat, imagine a hand underneath your glute that is pushing you back up. All the work for the upward motion should come from that front glute.
It is also important to make sure that your hips remain in a neutral and stable position and as you lower your body down, your hip is not sagging.
Work up to 3 sets of 20 and then add weight with either dumbbells or a squat rack. These can also be performed in a dynamic fashion as a walking lunge or forward and reverse lunge.
Consistency with these lunges will start you on track to that perfect J-Lo booty.