5 Best Squat Alternatives for All Athletes

Building strong legs without squatting is perfectly possible, just add these best squat alternatives to your training.

Adding variation to your routine is generally a good thing so long as you stay consistent.

Lee Hayward from Total Fitness Bodybuilding breaks down the misconception that you have to squat to build bigger legs.

“Some of the best bodybuilders have been able to build massive legs without [squats],” he says.

 Add these best squat alternatives to your program if you have trouble squatting.

at home workouts with air squats

5 best squat alternatives for all athletes

Squats are the king of all exercises, but some people can’t perform them properly through mobility issues or problems with their knees, back, or other joints. This doesn’t mean these people can’t see progress; there are some variations that can yield similarly excellent results.

“Find exercises that you do enjoy that you can perform and focus on that instead,” recommends Hayward.

“You just have to work the muscle. How you get the job done really doesn’t matter, as long as you get the job done.”

Leg Press

The leg press machine is an excellent squat alternative for strengthening your legs. Contrary to the squat, it doesn’t require balance as your whole back will be a point of contact. This, however, does mean that the leg press works slightly less muscles than the traditional back squat.

Leg Extension

The Leg Extension machine targets the quads and is an excellent squat alternative. This exercise works slightly different movements than the back squat, but compounded with an exercise like the leg press your training should be pretty well-rounded.

Leg Curl

Leg Curls are an excellent exercise for isolating and targeting the hamstring muscles, which give power to your upper leg muscles. If you don’t have access to a leg curl machine, you can perform this exercise with a band around your ankles or try Nordic Curls.

Step Ups

Step-Ups are as simple as their name, but this doesn’t mean they’re not effective. Step-Ups work primarily your glutes, quadriceps, and hamstrings. As far as squat alternatives go, step-ups work a similar number of muscles, especially when performed weighted, while improving unilateral strength.

Hack Squat

The Hack Squat is a Squat variation that is performed on a machine and involves pushing the weight away from you, at an angle, as you stand back up.

This exercise is great at activating the quads and is an excellent alternative to the squat for those that can’t perform the latter. Be aware that the HS won’t activate the muscles of the trunk as much, as balance isn’t required.

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