3 Squat Substitutes That Work

The squat is an effective exercise – there’s no point in denying the obvious. It maybe partially overrated but denying it’s effectiveness would be foolish and disrespectful. With that being said there are times when you can’t squat with a barbell on your back. Here are 10 squat substitutes that will actually WORK. The exercises below are designed to develop leg strength and mass when are not into a position to squat with a barbell.

1.Kettlebell Front Squats

The kettlebell may be highly overrated for many things but it’s a great tool for front squats since you are able to hold heavy weights in a relatively comfortable position. When doing kettlebell front squats focus on reps – 12-15 reps per set. Squat as deep as you can. Keep your spine straight in order to protect it.

Note: This variation of the squat places larger emphasis on the quadriceps.

2.Sumo deadlift

As explained in the article: Building Big Legs With The Deadlift the Sumo deadlift is an effective quadriceps exercise. Unlike the conventional deadlift the sumo variation requires you to use your leg muscles much more. You glutes, quadriceps and adductors will be screaming. 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 in your hands. Another option would be to wear a weight vest. This exercise should be done for higher repetitions – at least 8 reps per set.

The combination of those three exercises is very powerful and will help you develop very strong lower body without ever getting under the bar. The movements can be done without a spotter and all you need are free weights.


Q: Are those three exercises enough to be squat substitutes? The SQUAT is THE King…

A: More than enough! Try them and enjoy the pain. Remember that squats are just an exercise and nothing more.

Q: Could you give me an example workout?

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

1.Once a week:

Kettlebell Fron Squats – 3 sets of 8;
Sumo Deadlift – 2 sets of 8;
Bulgarian Split squats – 3 sets of 15;

2. Twice a week

Day 1: Sumo deadlift – 4 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. Before constructing your bodybuilding workout read this article:

How To Choose A Bodybuilding Routine – Beginner’s Guide

 Q: Will my legs get huge?

A: Depends on what you see as huge legs. You will certainly build mass and strength but don’t expect miracles. As a natural bodybuilder you are not limited by the exercises you do but by your hormonal profile.

Q: Should I do GOMAD on this program?

A: No! Don’t do GOMAD! No need to gain body fat.

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