Alternative Exercises to Front Squats

Some people are unable to front squat using a squat rack for a variety of reasons. Certain injuries and range of motion issues can sometimes inhibit people’s ability to front squat. Not only that, but sometimes front squats can be challenging and uncomfortable to do, especially for beginner lifters. Because of the way you have to hold the bar, some people find that holding the bar can be hard on the wrists, especially when they don’t have enough flexibility in the upper body. All challenging elements aside, the front squat is a great lower body exercise and, when done properly, is a very safe move.

Does not being able to perform the move for any reason justify missing leg day altogether? The answer is definitely “no”.  The front squat is great for the glutes, quadriceps femoris and core which makes it a very important lower body exercise. However, don’t panic if you are unable to do it. There are definitely substitutes for front squats.

Here are a few options:


#1: Squat using the Smith Machine

Although many lifters don’t feel like they are doing real squats when they use the Smith Machine, they are still able to give their quads and glutes a workout. They are also able to focus on their form without being too concerned about putting pressure on their wrists, as they would with a regular unsupported front squat. The real disadvantage to using a Smith Machine to squat is that you will not be engaging your stabilizer muscles during the lift. However, the position of the bar allows you to do proper form without worrying about dropping it. As you execute the move, focus on engaging the glutes, quads and core the way you would be doing if you were performing a conventional front squat.


#2: Leg Press Machine

The leg press machine also loads the quads and the glutes. However, it does not require you to engage your core because you are supported by the machine. Since the machine supports you, you are also not using the stabilizer muscles the way that you would in a front squat. When you are using the leg press machine, focus on getting depth without overloading your knees. Foot position is, therefore, a very important factor. Not only that, but you must also focus on pushing the weight up as you engage your glutes and quads. It would be very wise to do core stability exercises as well as exercises that work the stabilizer muscles in your legs in addition to using this machine in order to get the most benefits from the move.


#3: Superset leg extensions with cable glute kickbacks

Leg extensions will train your quad muscles, while cable glute kickbacks will be great for your glutes. When you do cable glute kickbacks, do the same number of repetitions on both sides.
As we can see, there are a few ways to get a lower body workout without doing front squats, although you may have to combine the moves to get the full workout.