When it comes to build muscle on your legs, squats are the No. 1 activity — but lunges come in a close second. As a bonus, lunges can be done in some many different ways so you can target different muscles in your lower body. But can they help you lose weight? As long as they are part of an overall exercise and eating plan, then the answer is yes.
Losing Weight and Building Muscle
You might have heard that you might have six-pack abs under that tummy fat, but you won't know until you get rid of the fat. The same goes for your glutes. While the lunge is an effective move for lower-body toning, especially your bum, you must get your heart rate up to a fat-burning level on a regular basis in order to lose weight and see the muscle.
Adding 30 minutes of cardio, along with a 15-minute session of walking lunges, can burn up to 400 calories for a 150-pound person. Brisk walking, jogging, swimming and cycling are all effective ways to get that blood pumping.
The forward lunge works multiple parts of your body, including the abs, hips and glutes, plus your quads.
How-To: Begin the move standing straight with your shoulders back and feet close together. Lift one leg slowly and pause to establish your balance. Step forward into a lunge while keeping your upper body straight and try to lunge forward until your thigh is parallel to the floor. Engage your thighs and gluteus to push back to the starting position. Work up to three sets of 10 reps on both sides.
You can also do walking lunges using the same technique except instead of pushing backward to standing, you pull the back leg forward to meet the front leg back into a standing position.
The side lunge is a variation on the regular forward lunge that essentially works the same muscle groups, with the added bonus of working the hips a little more.
How-To: Start by standing straight with your feet facing forward hip-width apart; step out to the side with one leg as far as you can while keeping your foot flat on the ground. Keep your knee directly above your foot and your shinbone vertical to the floor. Push off back to standing. Work up to three sets of 10 reps on each leg.
Don't Forget Your Diet
No matter how many lunges you plan on doing, you won't lose weight unless you take in fewer calories than you expend. Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables every day, choose foods low in saturated fat and cholesterol and stay away from the processed junk. Eat real food, and eat less of it. You'll need to eat about 500 fewer calories per day to lose a pound per week.