Lunge Or Split Squat – What’s The Difference?

Lunge Or Split Squat - What's The Difference? | DoshaFit®


Do you ever hear the terms “Split-squat” and “Lunge” and wonder what the difference is?

As a trainer I’m sometimes baffled when I get asked about terminology used in our exercise context. Especially when the answer is so simple yet complicated.

So what IS the difference between Lunge and Split squat?

The “Lunge” and the “Split-squat” both address your legs, your quad muscles, gluteus and hamstrings respectively.  Both have the front foot rooted firmly in the ground while the back foot is behind.  In both exercises your focus is to lower the back knee close to the ground, while the front leg bends and the front knee stays in line with the front ankle. The difference between lunge and split squat may just be technique, but read on.

Often used variations are a static form where a number of repetitions are performed on one side before we switch to the other side with the previous back leg now being the front leg.

Other variations include walking lunges, swing lunges, cross over lunges, Bulgarian split squats, alternating lunges, and the ones where we step forward or step backward.


Lunge or Split Squat – what is the confusion around terminology?


I did some research on the big great interwebs and this is what I found: says: In both a lunge and a split squat, you move the weight — either your body weight or body weight with additional weight added from a barbell or dumbbells — up and down along the axis created by the position of your legs. In a split squat, however, that axis is static. Once you’ve found the right position for your working leg in relation to your resting leg, you descend and return to starting without moving your feet. Lunges are different. While you can echo a split squat in terms of creating a static placement of your feet if you have balance issues, lunges typically involve stepping either forward or back.

Split squats and lunges are both lower body exercises that focus on the gluteal muscles that make up your bottom as well as the fronts and backs of your thighs, the quadriceps and hamstrings. In addition, both exercises work the calf muscles and core. However, the intensity of your work out varies between the two. Because the split squat uses only one leg at a time, it’s a more focused exercise targeting these muscle groups. A lunge balances the load between both legs, making it less fatiguing to the muscles.


My objection here is that whenever I lunge, or split-squat if you will, I do in fact use both of my legs. I don’t know if I can honestly say that one of my legs is “resting”. However, that may just be my perception.

Let’s see what I else I found.

An Article on points out that the difference may be in the technique …

Technique and difficulty level are the main distinctions between the lunge and split squat. The lunge is a more challenging movement as it requires more strength, coordination and balance because you move your feet during the exercise. Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart — this is the starting position. Take a step forward with one leg, rolling from heel to toe to minimize the impact. Drop down until your front thigh is parallel to the floor and your back knee is within a couple inches of the floor. Push through the heel of the front leg to power yourself back up, pulling your front leg back to a standing position.

During the split squat both feet remain stationary; this exercise requires less coordination and strength because you do not push yourself back into a standing position — you remain in the split stance throughout the exercise. Stand with one foot in front of the other and drop into a lunge until the front thigh is about parallel to the floor. Straighten your front knee to return to the starting position.


Now this sounds to me as though what I use to describe as a “static lunge” may in fact be a “split-squat”, which means that my terminology might be off. I hope my clients haven’t noticed this faux pas ….

Difference between lunge and split suggests that

The lunge and the split squat look superficially similar. The plain-vanilla version of both exercises involves lowering yourself until your front leg is bent at around 90 degrees in a kneeling position and your back leg is also bent behind you, so the knee almost touches the floor. The difference is this: For the split squat, you position your feet far apart, and squat down with your feet remaining in their original stance. With the lunge, you stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, and lunge forward with first one foot and then the other.


I think this also points toward the notion that a “Split-squat” is a static lunge, whereas a “Lunge” may then be any or one of the varieties mentioned above, walking lunges, step out lunges, swing lunges and the like.

I am in fact a stickler for using the proper terminology when it comes to training and educating my clients. For their own good, as well me, potentially, being really embarrassed should my client quote something I said that turns out to be wrong.

However, putting the majority of my clients through, what I used to call static lunges, nobody ever questioned the exact proper terminology of the exercise, nor the placement of their feet by the inch.

All I ever heard was grumbling, heavy breathing, and little expressions of pure joy once the exercise was successfully accomplished.

I would love to hear your opinion on this. As an exerciser, athlete or recreational, do you know or want to know the difference between lunge and split squat?

As a trainer, how much emphasis do you put on using terminology in this case?

My ears are open, so is the comment box below. Please leave a comment, and if you liked this post make sure to hop on the DoshaFit® Newsletter for free updates right to your inbox!

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Claudia Richey is a Victoria, B.C. based Personal Trainer and Ayurvedic Practitioner. She is passionate about sharing her unique approach of training and eating according to ones Body-Mind Constitution with other health professionals as well as using it on an ongoing basis with her own clients to help them reach their goals!

2016-10-13T10:51:36+00:00 Fitness|Comments Off on Lunge Or Split Squat – What’s The Difference?