Lunges and squats are the two most popular lower body exercises in the gym. They can be done with added weight or without. Which one of the two is better for mass gains?
The squat builds very strong legs and when done properly it’s also a safe close chain exercise. It allows you to lift a lot of weight and makes your hole body resilient while putting the cardiovascular system to test as well. Squat strength carries over well to any lower body exercise.
If you don’t know how to squat, you may hurt yourself badly. It’s also a demanding exercises that takes a lot out of the lifter and can be stressful on the CNS system, although not as much as the deadlift. Not everybody can squat safely and it takes a lot of experience to learn how your body responds to squats.
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. That’s how imbalances between the two sides can be fixed. Similar to the squat it can be done with or without added weight.
The main disadvantage of lunges is that when you do it with a barbell or another form of heavy resistance there’s a lot of stress on the knees and it’s easy to twist and hurt a joint. It’s absolutely not a safe exercise to do with a lot of weight because of balances and structural issues. The popular Olympic weightlifting coach John Broz has many times expressed his disapproval of doing lunges for the very same reason – it’s too risky to do with added weights.
The squat is the safer exercise out of the two and allows you to safely lift more weight. This makes it a better mass gain movement.
You should never do lunges for low reps with heavy weights. It’s better to use the squat as a general strength builder while performing lunges for higher reps with light weights as supplementary work, if there are imbalances between the right and the left side of the lower body.