3 Squat Substitutes That Work

| April 3, 2014 by Truth Seeker |

The exercises below will develop leg strength and mass when you are not in a position to squat with a barbell.

1.Kettlebell Front Squats

The kettlebell may be highly overrated, but it’s nevertheless a great tool for front squats since you can hold heavy weights in a relatively comfortable position. When doing kettlebell front squats, focus on higher reps – 12-15 reps per set. Squat as deep as you can. Keep your spine straight to protect it. This variation of the squat places a large emphasis on the quadriceps.

2.Sumo deadlift

The sumo deadlift is an effective leg exercise. Your glutes, quadriceps, and adductors will scream. Another benefit of the sumo deadlift is that your torso remains much more upright and your back is in a stronger and safer position.


3.Bulgarian Split Squats

The Bulgarian split squat is tough lower body exercise that places more emphasis on the posterior chain (glutes and hamstrings). It also develops balance, coordination and can fix imbalances between the right and the left leg. To add weight, you can hold dumbbells or kettlebells by your sides. Another option would be to wear a weight vest. This exercise calls for higher repetitions – at least 8 reps per set.


The combination of the aforementioned movements is very powerful and will help you develop a strong lower body without ever getting under the bar. The movements don’t require a spotter.

Q: Are those three exercises enough to replace the squat?

More than enough! Try them and enjoy the pain. Remember that squats are just an exercise after all.

Q: Could you give me an example workout?

Sure. Here are two options depending on how often you are willing to train.

Once a week

Kettlebell front squats – 3 sets of 8
Sumo deadlift – 1 set of 8
Bulgarian split squats – 3 sets of 15

2. Twice a week

Day 1: Sumo deadlift – 2 sets of 8
Day 2: Kettlebell Squats – 5 sets of 8, Bulgarian split squats – 3 sets of 15

Note: The above is just a guideline – you can change the plan according to your needs.

Q: Will my legs get huge?

You will certainly build mass and strength but don’t expect miracles. As a natural bodybuilder, you are limited by your hormonal profile.

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