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  1. #1
    Registered User paul e's Avatar
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    Lunges vs Stepups?

    My legs are a notorious weakness for me. Recently, I decided to add more exercises to my leg workout which heretofore, existed mainly of squats and calf raises. So last week, I added lunges, and Im having a problem. Im getting severe pain in my off leg as I perform the exercise... Even coming close to putting the knee on the floor causes a sharp pain in the quad of that down leg, as if Im getting a quad pull in my down leg. Im also having balance issues.

    So, Ive been considering substituting dumbell stepups onto a bench as a lunge alternative. Do you guys think stepups would train the same muscles and as effectively as lunges? This motion causes no pain, but if lunges are deemed more effective, I may try and keep at it.

    Thoughts?
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  2. #2
    Registered User RockVersusPaper's Avatar
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    It's a tough call as far as which one is better. I do them both, but I'd say they work very similar muscles. I can go a little heavier on walking lunges than I can with step-ups which, to me, means that lunges are the easier exercise of the two. But really, they run neck and neck.
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    Concentrate on relaxing your rear leg. This should help.

    Step-ups are effective but really a different animal vs. lunges.

    Bulgarian Split Squats are another option.

    You can also try doing your lunges reverse where you step back rather than forward.
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    Registered User matjusm's Avatar
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    I'd say say stepups train you more than lunges do since the ROM should be larger and hence you get the glute work that a lunge provides plus some quad work as well.
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    I think that the big issue is what's going on with your leg. Have you tried the movement without weights? Maybe you've got a strange balance issue, or maybe you're stepping too far ahead.

    I use both step-ups and lunges at times. They're both great along with squats and deadlifts.
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    My 2cents

    I use a loaded barbell at a very heavy weight otherwise it isn't challenging unless high reps. On step ups, the height needed to get a deep stride feels very unsafe and unstable since you have to shift your weight off of one foot with heavy a$$ weight on your back (or your hands if using dumbbells, not that I could possibly hold the required weight through 20 total reps for multiple sets). This problem does not exist with barbell lunges and your depth is only limited by your flexibility and stride length. The limiting factor on lunges would eventually be how much you can power clean into position, but most people will never have to worry about that.

    If you are using novice weights, step ups can do the trick fine. Later, you'll have to go back to lunges if you like the movement and have moved up in weight. May as well learn how to do it properly now?
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  7. #7
    Banned Tyciol's Avatar
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    The muscles used in the moves for the main leg (the top one in step-up, the front leg in a lunge) are pretty similar and you reap a lot of the stability benefits.

    You haven't clarified some of the details: are you doing lunges to the front, or to the back?
    http://www.exrx.net/WeightExercises/...s/BBLunge.html
    http://www.exrx.net/WeightExercises/...RearLunge.html

    How far are you raising your foot? How long are you stepping?

    It may help to think of a lunge as a 1-legged squat where the rear leg is basically spotting/stabilizing. If you keep the majority of weight on the front leg at all times, you can actually sort of drag the ball of your rear foot along the ground as you slide it back. This would help reduce the impact on the joints compared to taking high/long steps.

    Another alternative would be to pre-splay your legs (shuffle out) and do split squats: http://www.exrx.net/WeightExercises/...plitSquat.html
    which you can see doesn't involve the same impact force lunging does:
    http://www.exrx.net/WeightExercises/...s/BWLunge.html

    Step-ups themselves don't involve impact on the way up if you pre-plant the raised leg, although if you step-down too quickly the rear leg would get a shock from it.

    Does anyone do lunges while keeping th rear leg straighter and not focusing on touching it down so much? I'm just not sure what to use as a depth marker, it just seems that a straighter knee might be stronger and less likely to cause OP pain.
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  8. #8
    Registered User k9pit's Avatar
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    Personally I train legs twice a week.

    My main leg movements are barbell split squats and rdls on Wednesday and full squats and rdls on Saturday.

    Barbell split squats are basically static lunges performed by getting into the lunge position/stance and going up and down on that same leg for reps. This is instead of constantly stepping back and forth with walking lunges, rear lunges, etc.
    Hits different leg muscles based on the length of your stance:

    short stance-quads
    mid stance-quads,hams,glute
    long stance-primarily glutes.

    Absolutely nothing wrong with walking lunges but I like it better *at this point in my training* as once in position you can focus all of you attention to training the muscle instead of balancing the weight with all of the stepping back and forth. Once my leg strength is where I want it to be I'll worry about the more advanced things.

    Also this way you can train your weaker leg (in my case the right leg) more effectively.

    fyi - your knee shouldn't touch the ground
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    Registered User k9pit's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Tyciol View Post
    Does anyone do lunges while keeping th rear leg straighter and not focusing on touching it down so much? I'm just not sure what to use as a depth marker, it just seems that a straighter knee might be stronger and less likely to cause OP pain.
    If you mean with a (almost exaggerated) long stance (the only way I can get the rear leg to keep basically straight) then yeah I've done this a few of times. It focuses mainly on the glutes. This + RDLs = worst glute DOMS ever....in a good way...
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  10. #10
    Registered User paul e's Avatar
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    Guys, I really thank you for all these responses.. Theyre all very relevant to my 'problem' and they give me a lot of good ideas to try. Im beginning to think my big problem with the pain in the down leg quad is related to the fact that I have weak legs and have undertrained them over the years in partial avoidance of the admitted weakness. When I performed the lunges for the first time, I only used a 15 lb dumbell in each hand, but I think that was a mistake. I probably should have started off with just body weight. I think what happened is that even with those light dumbells, especially since I performed these right after squats, I didnt have enough pure strength in the lead leg quad alone to lift myself back to the starting position.. As a result, I wound up helping out with the down leg. That down leg, in an L position, when helping out, does a kind of 'leg extension' to assist the main lead leg in getting upright. Thats where I pulled it. Now, even with no weights, going into the lunge or split squat down position, causes a severe pain, not unlike severe DOMS in the down leg quad. Im thinking Ill switch over to step ups until I develop more strength in my quads, and then retry the lunges after a few wks with zero weight to start, and see if I can get back into it after the quad has recovered. Lastly, what's surprising is that yesterday, a full wk after I did the lunges for the first time and developed the pain, I was able to perform squats with no pain whatsoever, and yet, lunges, with even body weight alone, just ached... Later on in the workout, when it came to leg extensions, with lightish weight, it was ok, but when the weight surpassed a given point, the same quad pain would recur. Its definitely related to the leg extension motion of the leg which triggers the quad pain, whether as part of the lunch exercise as the down leg, or heavier extensions..

    thanks again!
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