Strength Training Exerciese: Squats and Lunges

More than one fitness professional will tell you that it’s a waste of time to do only intense target toning to get rid of fatty “problem” areas of your body. These professionals say that you need a combination of a healthy diet, cardiovascular exercise, and toning to achieve the look you want. A key component of an effective exercise program is squats and lunges.

What’s So Magical About Squats and Lunges?

There’s nothing magical about squats and lunges. They are effective for various reasons, all of them quite practical. Here are some.

* Multiple muscles – Squats and lunges work all the muscles in the legs and buttocks, and even include the abdominals. This type of exercise is called a compound exercise, because more than one muscle group is being worked at the same time.

* Calorie burning – Squats and lunges offer some cardiovascular exercise as well as local toning. Because multiple muscle groups are working at once, calorie burning is enhanced. While professionals do agree that you should include cardio with your lunges and squats, these exercises do help burn some extra calories.

* The “problem areas” – As noted above, intense target toning alone can wear you out quickly without showing a lot of results. But when it comes to lunges and squats, the buttocks and legs do get worked and muscle definition is often a result of doing these regularly. If the lower body is your “problem area,” these exercises (combined with a healthy diet that doesn’t involve excessive calories) may be just the thing to shape your buttocks and legs and tone up those trouble spots.

How Do You Do Them?

Doing these exercises correctly is important to avoiding injury and getting the maximum benefit. Here are some tips.


With your feet shoulder-width apart, toes forward or slightly outward, bend your hips and knees to lower your body. Think sitting down on a chair. Stop lowering yourself when your upper legs (thighs) are parallel with the floor. Make sure your knees are not extended beyond your toes. Then slowly rise back up, pushing upward with your heels, until you’re standing upright. You can hold weights during this exercise if you like.

Fitness experts recommend doing squats several times a week in sets of 8-16 reps. Anything from 1 to 3 sets is recommended.


Move from a standing position (feet side by side) into a “split stance” – step forward with one foot. Just the toes of your back leg’s foot should be touching the ground. Bend your knees slowly until they both reach 90-degree angles (the “lunge position”). When you rise, push down through your heels and avoid locking your knees. Keep your legs in the split stance until you’ve finished that side. Then switch and put the other leg forward.

Like squats, sources say lunges should be done several times a week in sets of 8-16 reps, 1 to 3 sets at a time.

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