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The squat is the king of all leg exercises, but the walking lunge is also effective and has at least one benefit over the squat — taking a large step forward and landing on the front leg adds more eccentric force than the squat.
Eccentric force is important for increasing muscle size and strength. But there is a lot of confusion over whether the lunge is more of a quad or hamstring exercise.
It is a multijoint movement that uses both muscle groups, but a study performed by Swedish researchers suggests that the lunge is more of a hamstring exercise.
They asked competitive soccer players to complete a walking lunge workout — four sets of 12 reps — twice weekly for six weeks. They tested the subjects’ ham and quad muscle strength at the beginning and end of the study.
The lunge workouts led to a 35% increase in hamstring strength, with no increase in quadriceps strength.
This suggests that the walking lunge places more emphasis on the hamstrings than on the quads.