Are Lunges Bad For Your Knees? (Here’s a better alternative…)

Everybody in the gym is always talking about how they have bad knee pain from lunges and squats. Some even refuse to do the lift entirely because of the pain it brings. So, are lunges bad for your knees?

The answer is, yes. Lunges are bad for you because most of the time people do lunges with an incorrect form. This can cause a lot of pain and really aggravate the knee. Additionally, a lot of people suffer from knee pain, and doing lunges even in proper form hurt a lot. Simply put, there are alternatives to lunges that build the same muscle without the pain. So I really don’t recommend lunges at all.

Many experts claim that doing lunges and squats in proper form will eventually subside the knee pain, but I’m not a believer in it. Go to any gym and ask the meatheads there if they want to do lunges and squats to “fix” their knee pain, they will just start laughing at you. There are much better options that don’t hurt.

So, let’s really see if lunges are bad for the knees.

Photo by Maksim Goncharenok from Pexels, Are Lunges Bad For The Knees?
Photo by Maksim Goncharenok from Pexels, Are Lunges Bad For The Knees?

How Exactly Are Lunges Bad For The Knees?

Lunges are a very crazy exercise.

They aren’t like curls where you can just kind of pull your arm up and see good results and form. Lunges require intense concentration, balance, activation of many muscles, and proper muscular balance throughout your body.

Here’s the thing, the lunge is an exercise that is very easy to mess up. Especially when you’re on a program like Arnold’s Blueprint to Mass that requires you to be doing weighted lunges. Weighted lunges are just well, not fun, and can really put you at risk of hurting your knees more.

This is because the lunge is one of those unforgiving exercises that you need to be super careful on, but most people don’t realize that.

This is kind of because, lunges have been phased out over the past few decades.

Simply put, there are just better exercises. Instead of lunges, you can just do hyperextensions for your glutes and use machines for the rest. And then just squat or do other activities for balance.

The lunge is not a big fan favorite in the bodybuilding or powerlifting community anymore.

And there are way more fun exercises that target the legs, without the pain.

Doing Lunges With Bad Form is Easy and Destructive

I’m sure if you’re reading this post you know all about doing lunges with bad form. And who am I to judge? I’m the same way.

First of all, as I said earlier, who even does lunges anymore? It’s rare I even see people doing them, and I have the Active & Fit direct membership, the one that lets me literally go to basically any gym countrywide. I’ve been far and wide, and lunges are getting rarer and rarer every day.

My point is, it’s hard to find someone else to look up to. You find people squatting, benching, and curling all the time- it’s easy to just copy what they’re doing.

And not to mention, but most videos on the lunge are hard to understand. I even tried finding some to link in this article, but all of them were doing the lunge differently and with even worse form.

So all I have for you is a video of Athlean-X explaining why lunging with bad form actually hurts your knee. (and in some cases, just hurts it, even with good form!)

That video also goes really in-depth about how lunges even with good form hurt a lot. He talks about how the force from lunges hurts your knees no matter what because your legs are in a really awkward position when you try to do lunges. This means your body will absorb all the pain into your patellar tendon. And as Jeff said, it will feel like you’re getting stabbed.

The Reverse Lunge is Inherently Far Superior

If you ended up watching his whole YouTube video, you might already know what I’m talking about.

Instead of doing normal lunges that hurt your tendon and cause knee pain, just do reverse lunges.

If you do reverse lunges, it reduces the amount of force placed on the knee and still works out the same muscles.

I remember I was at the gym and one of my meathead friends Toby saw me struggling with lunges from knee pain. He told me to give reverse lunges a shot.

I replied no, because honestly, I didn’t want to get in any more pain. But he was like “trust me, you’ll feel the difference instantly”. Wow, was he right.

I feel like if you stand up, do a normal lunge and feel the pain, then do a reverse lunge, you’ll get addicted to reverse lunges.

They still are basically the same exercise, just one without the pain.

Regardless, Hyperextensions/Machines Are Superior Too

Let’s say you don’t want to even do reverse lunges. There are other exercises that can just replace it out right without causing pain.

Need to workout your glutes? Just do hyperextensions, leg curls, hip thrusts, or even the leg machine.

How about the hamstrings? Hamstring curl machine, leg curls, etc.

Quads? Quadricep machine. Deadlifts, hex bar deadlifts, etc.

Point is- you can just do other exercises. Sure, some may argue that lunges work all of them at once, but the pain just isn’t worth it to me. Regardless, just do the reverse lunges!

Conclusion of Are Lunges Bad For Your Knees?

Honestly, some may say that working out your knees helps your pain, but honestly, I’d avoid it. Just do the reverse lunges and thank Athlean-X later.

Now, let’s get in the gym, get rid of that pain that’s been holding us back, and get big!

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