Lunges and squats are the two most popular lower body exercises. They can be done with added weight or without. Question is, which one of the two is better for mass gains?
The squat is a close chain exercise that could build very strong legs. It allows you to lift a lot of weight and puts your whole being to a test. Squat strength carries over well to any lower body exercise.
If you don’t know how to squat, you may hurt yourself. In addition, the squat is a demanding exercise that takes a lot out of the lifter and can be stressful on the CNS.
The main benefit of doing lunges is that you are developing unilateral lower body strength. This means that each leg is performing the same amount of work. This fixes imbalances between the left and right side.
The main disadvantage of lunges is the stress on the knees. Moreover, weighted lunges make it easy to twist and hurt a joint. Heavy lunges are not a safe exercise due to balance and structural issues. The popular Olympic weightlifting coach, John Broz, has expressed his disapproval of lunges because they are too risky to do with a meaningful weight.
The squat is not only the safer exercise out of two, but it also allows you to lift more weight. This makes it a better strength builder.
You should never do lunges for low reps with heavy weights. It’s better to use the squat as a general strength builder and perform lunges for higher reps with light weights as a supplementary work.