7 Barbell Squat Alternatives (No Squat Rack? No Problem)

7 Barbell Squat Alternatives (No Squat Rack? No Problem)


What’s going on, guys? Sean Nalewanyj on www.SeanNal.com. And today I’m going to be giving you some
advice on how to perform squats if you don’t have access to a regular squat rack and you
can’t do standard barbell back squats. So either you’re training from home or you’re
training at a really basic gym that doesn’t have one. Or the other reason to try these alternatives
would be if you can do barbell squats because of issues with your lower back or maybe your
knees and you’re looking for a different variation to try out instead. Before I get started here, guys. Make sure to hit the subscribe button below
so you don’t miss out on any future videos if you do enjoy this content. And hit the little bell icon as well, that
way you’ll be notified any time a new video is uploaded so that you don’t miss out on
anything. So the first thing I’d say here is that if
you are training from home and your goal is to fully maximize your lower body development
then don’t just give up on it straight away. Regular barbell squats are definitely not
a mandatory lift, like I’ve talked about in previous videos, and you can still make awesome
gains without them, but all in all I would say that they are going to be the most productive
overall lower body exercise out there and that if you can do them then you should, assuming
you want the very best muscle building results possible. So do a bit of research first and see if it’s
feasible for you to either purchase a basic squat rack of some kind or see if you can
even put together your own homemade squat rack. You really don’t need anything fancy. It just comes down to having some sort of
sturdy apparatus that lets you safely un-rack a loaded bar and to where you can either react
the bar or drop the bar off your back if you were to get stuck in the bottom . I trained
from home in my first couple years of lifting and ended up using quite a few different creative
solutions for squatting when I didn’t have a rack. At one point I was just using two sawhorses
and resting the bar across it and then un-racking it that way. And at one point, I even went as far as to
train outdoors in my backyard using two big rocks that were side-by-side just to make
a makeshift squat rack when nothing else is available, not the safest way to go about
it, but usually there are options available if you truly want to make it happen. So the bottom line is if you’re fully serious
about your results then put in some time and effort first to see if you can come up with
a way to do barbell squats from home, either by purchasing a basic squat rack or by building
one somehow. Now if you really have no way of doing that
or if it’s not necessarily your goal to build, you know, the absolute biggest, strongest
legs possible, again, it’s far from the end of the world and there are a lot of different
movements you can use to effectively build up your lower body without doing regular barbell
squats. So I’m going to be giving you seven solid
recommendations here. So squat alternative number one is a Bulgarian
split squat, which is an awesome exercise that will really fire up your quads if you
do them properly. They do take a bit of practice to get used
to but this is definitely one of my top recommended squat alternatives and some data has even
shown that split squats are equally as effective as barbell squats when it comes to lower body
strength development. So to do them you’re going to hold onto a
pair of dumbbells at your sides, use a staggered stance and put one foot up on a bench behind
you with your toe pointing down. And from there just squat down on the front
leg until your knee is just short of touching the ground and drive yourself back up. Squat alternative number two is a Zercher
squad. This is a squat variation you’ll almost never
see being performed in the gym. A very uncommon lift, but it is really effective
at hitting the quads and glutes and it can be used as a back squat alternative. So with Zercher squats the difference is that
instead of putting the bar on your back you’re going to hold it in the crook of your elbows. And it might look easy but this is actually
a really uncomfortable exercise because it not only hits your lower body but also your
upper back, your shoulders and your biceps since you have to actively hold the weight
up the entire time. This exercise is ideally done inside of a
squat rack but it can still be done without one by doing a Sumo deadlift off the floor
and then resting the bar on your thighs and hooking your arms underneath from there. This is a bit of an awkward movement, so again
make sure to practice this with light weights first and I wouldn’t recommend going to super
heavy on this one either. Squat alternative number three is a Power
Clean into a front squat. Front squats are a great alternative to regular
back squats and they train the lower body really effectively with the added bonus of
putting less stress on your lower back. So for this one you’re just going to lift
the bar right up off the ground using a cleaning motion and get yourself into a front squat
position and then just perform your set from there. I’m not going to go into all the details of
how to do Power Cleans properly here because you can find demos for that really easily
online and there are a lot of smaller details to it, but if you’re not familiar with Power
Cleans then make sure to practice them first and start with lighter weight and then work
your way up from there. The amount that you can use on the front squat
here is obviously going to be limited to how much you can clean off the floor. And so if cleans are a new movement for you
then just go with higher rep sets until you really build up your Power Cleaning strength
further. Squat alternative number four is a Pistol
Squat. The main upside here is that because they’re
so challenging to do you really don’t need much resistance, if any, to train them with
a high level of intensity so they’re really good for home workouts or if you don’t have
access to heavier weights. But to do pistol squats you’re just going
to stand feet about hip width apart and raise one foot slightly off the floor. From there descend down into a squatting position
while extending your arms and your opposite leg out in front of you and then drive yourself
back up. And as you become stronger at these you can
start adding resistance by holding a pair of dumbbells at your sides. These probably will feel pretty awkward at
first because there’s a balance and coordination aspect involved. This isn’t an exercise that I personally do
so they do feel a bit weird for me too. So you will need to work at it and get used
to the movement before it starts to feel more natural. Squat alternative number five is a Barbell
Hack squat. Now, this is another very uncommon lift and
all it really is, is a regular barbell deadlift except that you’ll be holding the bar behind
your body rather than out in front. But aside from that the basic deadlift form
is the same and with this particular angle, with the bar behind you, it’s going to place
more stress onto your quads enough that it can be used as a squat alternative. Squat alternative number six is a Trap Bar
deadlift. So while we’re on the subject of deadlifts
this is another variation that places more emphasis on the lower body as opposed to the
back and it could technically be used as a squat alternative. So if you don’t have the funds to invest in
a full squat rack, another thing you could do is buy a trap bar instead, also known as
a hex bar. And this exercise places the line of resistance
through the sides of your body rather than out in front which puts more stress onto your
quads and less load on the lower back. And squat alternative number seven is a Goblet
squat. You’ve probably seen these before at the gym
but the form is pretty simple and it’s the same as a regular squat except that you’ll
be holding a dumbbell up at chest height with both hands like you see here with your elbows
tucked in, or you can also use a kettlebell as well if you prefer. Depending on how strong you are and how much
weight you have access to you might need to go with higher rep sets to really overload
your quads here since you’re only going to be using a single dumbbell. But in any case, goblet squats are a viable
barbell squat alternative either done on their own or in combination with the other exercises
we’ve outlined here. So as you can see an effective squatting workout
isn’t strictly limited to the traditional barbell back squat only. And if you don’t have a squat rack available,
all it takes is a basic barbell or a pair of dumbbells, or even just your body weight
alone and there are a wide variety of different squat variations that you can make use of
instead. So I hope this was helpful, guys. If you do want to get access to all of my
complete training routines for beginners, intermediates and advanced lifters to maximize
your muscle size and strength gains along with step-by-step meal plans, supplementation
guides and one-on-one coaching, you can check out my Body Transformation Blueprint by clicking
here or by visiting www.BTBlueprintcom. The link for that is in the description box. Make sure to follow me on Facebook and Instagram
for more daily tips if you aren’t already. The links for that are also below. The official website is over at www.SeanNal.com. And if you did enjoy the video make sure to
hit the like button, leave a comment and subscribe to stay up-to-date on future videos. Thanks for watching, guys. And I’ll talk to you again soon.

83 Replies to “7 Barbell Squat Alternatives (No Squat Rack? No Problem)”

  1. When I workout at home I always do the power clean to a front squat. The only thing though is that I grip the bar as if I am doing a shoulder press. Never open handed. Feel like I will drop the weight.

  2. What are your volume recommendations per body part? Dr brad scholenfeild and dr mike isreatel both recommend volume accumulation in a over reaching phase do you feel the same way?

  3. This was exactly what I was thinking today. After I finished my goblet squats for high reps , I though I should make homemade squat rack since the dumbell is getting heavier and heavier on my shoulder to hold especially on high reps. You read my mind Sean , thanks for the another quality content you've made for us.

  4. Thanks mate, I've got poor shoulder mobility and I'm 6'4 so squatting isn't biomechanically the best option for my long limbs. I prefer front squat and hack squat to a traditional barbell squat.

  5. Great video. I also recommend Sandbag Squats. I do them at home. Zercher, Front, Romanian Deadlifts etc. It's great and can be just dropped if too heavy or hard.

  6. Since squats are basically the only compound movement i can't do at home, bulgarian split squads are what will HOPEFULLY help me build my chicken legs a bit 🙂 I haven't heard of them before, but they do look promising, so i thank you sir!

  7. It's a little risky, but I power clean into front squat, lift it over my head and behind it to get into back squat form… When I'm done I let it drop behind me onto the bed.. Its way too light probably for any substantial gains(35kg is the maximum weight I have at home…) so the risk taken is kinda debatable, but I'm just kinda holding out til I have access to proper gym and equipment in new school.

  8. If you're someone who really prefers working out at home and a rack isn't an option, get yourself a weighted vest plus some dumbbells and do lunges. 5×5 heavy as you can go once a week and 10×5 moderate once a week. This has been the only leg workout I've done and my legs are probably my best body part. No argument that squats are ideal but this is a great alternative.

  9. I find dumbbell squats are very effective with more variations, I usually do with two dumbbells. High reps to failure gives a good burn, I have naturally skinny legs.

  10. Great video Sean, as usual. Although that power clean needs a looot of work, but it's ok since you're not an Olympic Weightlifter. I used this method when I was in a hotel gym, but since I did almost 1 year of oly lifting, my Power Clean max and Front Squat max are quite close to be honest, do I could easily clean 90-100kg and perform my Front Squats from there.

  11. Great video Sean!
    Recently I have incorporated high to low cable row in my back workout. My question is what is the difference if I do them Alternatively on my foot(standing position) and if I do them alternatively in a kneeling position?
    Which one would you suggest? Thank you.

  12. the lunges are a good idea but i think it would be better to take a barbel with a light weight(compared to the squat weight) clean it,press it,lay it on the back and then do lunges.

  13. Sean.. I haven't trained now in about 7 months as I moved country and didn't have the cash or time to hit the gym like I used to.
    Needless to say I've lost a lot of Muscle, Went from 173 pounds to 155 pounds.. Now I feel like I can tackle the gym again, but and ideas how long it would take for the Muscle and strength I lost to come back ? It took me 2 years to get from 145pounds to 173.

  14. I've been doing zercher squats, front squats , glute activation, and Unilateral training exercises recently. In NY Long Island we had a lot of snow recently and my back was killing me after all that shoveling right now I'm taking a break from deadlifting, and back squatting my back is feeling a lot better but for now it's better to be safe then sorry. I'm not taking the risk putting weight behind my back and doing spinal flexion.

  15. Never knew that was called a Zercher Squat. Cool! Learned something new. I've tried the Barbell Hack Squat, but it's kind of awkward. The bar hits my hamstrings as I try to straighten up. Perhaps my arms are just a tad too short or something. Great videos, Sean!

  16. Full body workouts seem to be showing better results than splits in a lot of studies, can you do a video on your experience with these please?

  17. Goblet squats are great. I don't have a squat rack but still do squats with the barbell on my back by lifting the weight over me and squatting…obviously I can't go heavy but it's still pretty good!

  18. Wow…I kid you not, was literally about to go on YouTube searching for squat alternatives when I realized my notifications showed you posted this already….just perfect!

  19. I tried all of them , my opinion :

    Split squat : the best alternative , safe , simple and effective

    Zercher : almost training brachialis !

    Power clean : limiting ‘cause your clean will always be lighter than squat

    Pistol : some people have bad knees / low mobility level / low core strength

    Hack : simply amazing great to improve deadlift and also builds big quadz

    Trap bar : good but not quad dominant

    Goblet : limiting ‘cause you’re holding the dumbbell with your hands which means shoulder and arm activation

  20. Great alternative is squat jumps with weight held in front, can also do lunge jumps this way. Back squats are far overrated exercise that carries the risk that isn't worth it….I had neck artery partially crack after being pinned by a barbell during heavy back squat (found out much later, after injury healed. there was no rack.). After such injury I'm prohibited from any lifting, but lift nevertheless and use front squats instead now, much safer….though to go heavy one needs a rack unless they can clean heavy…but to clean heavy got to be able to drop the weight if needed and it isn't possible or allowed in most places. Weighted one leg pistols is another good one.

  21. Thanks! My downstairs neighbors keep pounding on the ceiling for some reason though…. Oh well 🙂

  22. This is the best video I have seen yet for working legs without a squat rack. My workout goals are different now that I am 61 years of age. Am just trying to say fit now rather than build mass. What I have is a Iron Master Bench with all of the attachments and PowerBlocks U90 adjustable dumbbells and a Concept 2 rowing machine. I just ordered a straight bar from the PowerBlocks. That should be enough to stay fit. Working legs has been the most difficult to do with limited equipment.

  23. These are all exercises for men who are already in shape pistol squats can damage your knees reverse back squats can throw your back out of place these are in knee exercises for people who are already physically fit

  24. If your information's any good young man it should be free and your personality Charisma creativity and intelligence should be what people are buying but you like all of those things I will stick with athlean x

  25. Also, if the bench-press rack is not too low, you can also put your head and shoulders under it and lift it up from there and take some careful steps backwards and start squatting.

  26. I usually do a 5set dropset of goblet squats with 12-15 reps and the last set being a bodyweight set of 20 reps. This will really pump up your quads! After that I go into lower reps of bulgarian split squats

  27. I dont have the squat rack so I clean the barbell and do front squats. Not ideal for progress but I am 19 and Ill be the strongest mothafucka! Its all about consistency

  28. Which of the barbell variations transfer best to barbell back squat? I'm doing deadlifts on my leg day anyhow, so I don't know if doing a 5×5 with the hack squat would be redundant or not. Thanks for reading and for showing us 7 great exercises. Especially the zerchers and the hack squat, most exercisers don't realize that we can actually do those.

  29. Why cant I squat low like this? my legs get to a 45 degree angle if I go any lower my heels come off the floor?

  30. Good to see you promote the benefits of very old school, zearcher squats name after the strong man. Hack deep knee bends as explained by Hackenschmidt himself in his book is by holding a barbell at the back with both hands, and deep knee bends as possible with heels elevated and balancing on the toes and again back up. Today we call this exercise an Hack squat popularised by Hackenschmidt. Hence majorly on you tube it’s shown improperly.

  31. My parents won’t let me do squats cos it compresses the spine which I personally don’t believe but I like ur vids and keep it up

  32. Even better … get landmine plus barbell. Lots of squat variations can be performed. Secondly, get a dip/hip belt and attach that to the landmine.

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