Lunges, squats, and deadlifts. OH MY!


by Becca Egan, BS, NASM-CPT

Lunges, squats, and deadlifts are probably the three movements that come to your mind when you think of lower body exercises. I get a lot of clients asking me what the difference of each is. Yes they all work the muscles at and below the waist; but there has to be something inherently different about each, right?

Let’s look at the muscles that each movement works:

Pretty similar across the board. That’s why all of these exercises are great to add to any routine. These are compound movements, which means they use two or more joint movements to work multiple muscles with the same one movement. This is the opposite of an isolation movement, which works one joint and therefore muscle at a time – like a bicep curl (only working bicep) or quad extension (only working quads).

So why do one of these over the others? Since they are slightly different, someone might be able to perform one, but not another. Limitations in mobility, weak muscles, or prior injury, might be some reasons someone chooses one over another.

There is less hip crease in the deadlift than the squat. Knee pain or injury might be a reason someone chooses deadlift over the squat or lunge, since both of those movements are more knee dominant then the deadlift.

Someone might be very careful with their low back so they might choose lunges or squats over deadlifts. You are loading the posterior chain (muscles on the back side of you) and have to make sure you are doing deadlifts with the correct form and weight, otherwise you can injure a weak back.

Balance might also be a reason someone chooses squats or dead lifts over lunges since you are in two different planes and have to separate your feet which weakens your central balance.

*However, if possible, you should be doing all these movements in all different variations. Stay tuned for all the variations of these movements you can do so you (and your body) will never be bored with your workout!

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