Comparing Two Key Exercises: Squats and Lunges

In the realm of fitness and strength training, choosing the right exercises can significantly impact your progress toward your fitness goals.

In this blog post, we’ll explore the findings of two distinct studies comparing different exercises: one delving into squat variations and the other investigating lunges. Understanding the nuances of these exercises can help you tailor your training program to suit your objectives.

Study 1: A Comparative Study of Squats – Bulgarian Split Squat vs. Back Squat

Exploring Muscle Activation in Bulgarian Split Squat and Back Squat

The primary goal of the first study was to shed light on how the body responds during two types of squats:

The Bulgarian Split Squat (BSS) and the Back Squat (BS).

The study aimed to understand the role of the ankle, knee, and hip joints during these exercises.


  • Both exercises primarily engage the hip muscles.

  • The Back Squat places more emphasis on the knee, whereas the Bulgarian Split Squat is gentler on it.

  • Ankle and hip movements are similar in both exercises, but the knee moves less during the Bulgarian Split Squat.

Implications for Training

The Bulgarian Split Squat can be a better choice for focusing on hip muscle strengthening while minimizing knee strain, making it suitable for early knee rehabilitation or targeted hip strength training.

Technical Measures – NJMI and NJW

The study also explored technical measures like NJMI (sustained joint moment across time) and NJW (sustained joint moment through a range of motion) to understand joint mechanics during these exercises.

Study 2: Exploring Muscle Activation in Lunges – Regular vs. In-Line Lunges

Comparing Muscle Activation in Regular and In-Line Lunges

The second study aimed to evaluate muscle activation during regular lunges and in-line lunges. The goal was to uncover any differences in muscle engagement and their implications for training.


  • Both regular and in-line lunges effectively engage leg muscles, particularly the quadriceps.

  • Quadriceps activity levels resemble those seen in squats.

  • The leg at the back during lunges showed less muscle activation in the hamstrings and glutes compared to the front leg.

Balancing Act

If improving side-to-side balance is a priority, in-line lunges might be the better choice, as they challenge balance more.

Implications for Training

Coaches and athletes in sports requiring extensive leg movement can benefit from these insights when selecting exercises for their training routines.


In summary, these two studies offer valuable insights into two essential categories of exercises: squats and lunges. The Bulgarian Split Squat emerges as a hip-focused option with minimal knee strain, while regular and in-line lunges effectively target leg muscles, especially the quadriceps. By understanding these differences, individuals can make informed choices when designing a training program, ensuring it aligns with their fitness goals and needs.

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  2. Biomechanical Differences Between the Bulgarian Split-Squat and Back Squat