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A woman barbell back squats but a large pink X frames her body. White text reads STOP Squatting.

Best Squat Alternatives

blog Jul 06, 2024

Best Squat Alternatives

You Don’t have to Barbell Back Squat

A mistake that I made for a long time was thinking that I needed to barbell squat to get stronger, build my quads, and build my glutes. However, when I stopped thinking that, I actually progressed a lot more, so you don't necessarily have to barbell squat.

It All Depends on your Goal

It all comes back to your goal. If your goal is to build muscle in your glutes or your quads, there are actually a lot of alternatives that may work better for you then your traditional barbell squat.

Try Switching to Unilateral Movements

Before we get into specific alternatives for quads versus glutes, one thing to think about is switching to unilateral movements if you’re struggling with mobility on your squats, whether it’s a regular barbell or any other type of squat.

Let’s Talk about Split Squats

Split squats are a great alternative to squats that will allow you to get a little bit more output and potentially help if you are struggling with ankle mobility issues or hip mobility issues. There are a few different split squat variations. Actually, there are a bunch of different split squat variations for both quads and glutes:


  • Quad-Focused Split Squat


Front Foot Elevated Split Squat: This is one of my favorites. It allows you to get a lot of knee flexion and basically push your knees over your toes to close that gap between your calves and hamstrings which is going to give a lot of output for your quads.


  • Glute-Focused Split Squats


Rear Foot Elevated Split Squat: You should be focused on keeping more of a vertical shin angle and flexing at the hips. Leaning forward slightly.

Those are just two examples of split squats, in which you can actually target your quads more and your glutes more and they may work better for you and allow you to get more output in the target tissue versus a traditional barbell back squat.

Other Exercises to Try


  • Quad-Focused Exercises


So a few other options besides split squats if you don't want to squat for quads:

    • Heel-Elevated Deadlifts: Try the Heel Elevated Trap Bar Deadlift


  • Quad-Focused Leg Press
  • Hack Squat
  • Glute-Focused Exercises



  • Glute-Focused Exercises


Then if you're looking to specifically build your glutes, there are tons of other options:


  • RDL
  • Glute-Focused Leg Press
  • Hip Thrust
  • Glute Bridge
  • Step-Ups


You Just Don’t Have to Squat

All in all, you do not have to squat. There's so many different options for you. It's just going to come down to what feels best for you and the option that you can progress over the long term.

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