Top 10 Front Squat Alternatives (with Pictures) | (2023)

The front squat has been shown to improve posture, increase muscle size and strength, and even increase ground reaction force for the sport. But it won't work for everyone.

Here are the top 10 front squat alternatives:

  1. Front squat with arms crossed
  2. goblet squat
  3. Narrow posture leg press
  4. Front Rack Langhantel Split Squat
  5. Foot lunges with dumbbells
  6. Pistol Assisted Box Squat
  7. Haltere Step Up
  8. Squat with safety bar
  9. zercher squat
  10. barbell squat

This guide covers everything from front squats, front squat progressions, muscles used, benefits, mistakes to avoid, and general squat tips.

What stops people from doing front squats?

While the front squat is a great addition to your workout, many people lack the wrist mobility needed to perform a front rack position. For this reasonwrist pain, many people miss out on the many benefits of front squats.

While wrist pain is probably the number one reason people avoid the front squat, it's not the only reason. Some other reasons are:

  • Lack of shoulder mobility.
  • Pain when the bar rests in front of the shoulders
  • You Can't Do Front Squats As Much As You Can Do Back Squats
  • Lack of upper back strength to stand
  • You are too comfortable with squats and afraid to try something new.

Whatever the reason you're hesitant to do front squats, know that there are alternatives. I've compiled the 10 most effective front squat alternatives that you can incorporate into your training other than back squats.

If you've read this article, you'll want to read mine.Ultimaver Front Squat Guide. This guide covers everything from front squats, front squat progressions, muscles used, benefits, mistakes to avoid, and general squat tips.

Basic front squat alternatives

Front squat alternatives are compound exercises that challenge the quadriceps more. The greatest demand on the quadriceps in the front squat is the front stance position.

A front rack position is placing the barbell in front of your shoulders. This position forces the torso to be more upright and the knees forward. This front knee position causesmore load to put on the quads.

So if we want to mimic the demands of the front squat, we need to put more weight on the quads.

1. Front squat with crossed arms

Top 10 Front Squat Alternatives (with Pictures) | (1)

The tighter alternative to the front squat is the cross-arm front squat. This exercise would be ideal for anyone who enjoys front squats but doesn't yet have the mobility in their wrists to get into a front lunge position.

How are you

  • Get into the squat rack and place the barbell in front of your shoulders.
  • Make sure you are in the middle of the bar with your settings. The central serration (rough part of the bar) should be right in front of your throat.
  • Cross your arms in front of you and place your fingers on top of the bar. Don't put your hands around the bar. The bar should rest on your shoulders.
  • As you stand up and off the bar, be sure to bring your elbows towards the ceiling. This will ensure the barbell doesn't fall off your shoulders.
  • Plant your feet outside, hip-width apart, with your toes pointing forward. You can rotate your toes about 10 degrees if needed.
  • Keeping your torso upright, lower your hips until your thigh is approximately parallel to the floor, keeping your entire foot on the floor.
  • Upon reaching this depth, push your feet into the floor as you drive your chest and elbows toward the ceiling.

professional advice

If you front squat with your arms crossed because of a lack of wrist mobility, you need to work on improving these mechanical limitations. The following video is the best wrist flick routine I have found.

To use:I would suggest just doing the first 4:30 minutes of this 10 minute routine.

This front squat alternative is also possible if you want to.the barra suffocates youduring a regular grip, or find thatThe bar slips off your shoulders.

(Video) STOP Doing Squats Like This (SAVE YOUR JOINTS!)

2. Kock goblet

Top 10 Front Squat Alternatives (with Pictures) | (2)

The goblet squat is a shortened version of the front squat using a dumbbell instead of a barbell. This move is a great teaching tool for the front squat.

How are you

  • Use a single dumbbell for this exercise.
  • Rotate the dumbbell vertically and hold the top of the dumbbell with your palms down and fingers up.
  • Hold the dumbbell directly over your chest, with the top of the dumbbell directly under your chin.
  • Place your feet outside hip-width apart with toes straight until they are slightly turned outward about 10 degrees.
  • Keeping your torso upright, begin the descent by simultaneously bending at the hips, knees, and ankles.
  • When lowering the movement, spread your knees and keep your chest "up". Lower until the hip flexion is below the knees. This is parallel or "depth".
  • To stand up, push your feet "through the floor" and direct your chest towards the ceiling.

professional advice

Because it's a dumbbell-loaded move, you can easily train higher volume sets, hanging sets, and even to failure. Higher volume training with the goblet squat sets you up to increase your front and back squat totals.

See my article on the subject.Front squat against gobletYou squat down to see if you should do one or the other or both based on your goals.

If you have trouble getting your hands on the bar when doing front squats, you may benefit from this.Front squats with straps. Take a look at my guide that explains how to do this correctly.

3. Closed leg press

Top 10 Front Squat Alternatives (with Pictures) | (3)

the narrow postureThe leg press is an exercise that emphasizes the quadriceps., making it an ideal candidate for an effective front squat replacement exercise.

With this version of the leg press, you use a narrower stance to increase your shin angle, which places more load on your quadriceps.

How are you

  • It is best to use a 45 degree leg press with plate for this exercise. But a leg press also works well.
  • Place your feet hip-width apart with your toes pointing forward. Placing your feet lower on the footrest will increase the shin angle, while placing your feet higher on the footrest will decrease this angle through movement. A greater tibial angle leads to greater quadriceps activation.
  • As you begin the movement, slide your knees over your toes while applying pressure to the entire foot, including the heel.
  • Bend your knees as much as you can, keep your entire foot on the platform (heels don't come off), and keep your back straight. This is your range of motion.
  • When you reach the end of the movement, drive your feet back to the starting point while contracting your quadriceps.

professional advice

If you really want to hammer your quads, also pretend to do a knee extension while doing the eccentric or negative part of the movement. This activates the quadriceps more and takes the stress off the hamstrings. More activation means more growth.

Have a look at my article to compareEccentric Squat vs Concentric Squatand how tempo affects technique.

One Leg Front Squat Alternatives

One-leg exercises can be a great alternative to front squats for two reasons:

  1. Balancing on one leg actually helps increase the neural activation of the muscles in that leg. This means you get more quadriceps activation, even with lighter loads.
  2. It can help reduce the so-called bilateral deficit. You have a dominant leg, much like your dominant hand, and training on one leg can help reduce imbalances and risk of injury.

4. Front bar split squat

Top 10 Front Squat Alternatives (with Pictures) | (4)

The front barbell split squat is a front squat alternative that still uses the "front rack" position. However, since this is a one-legged exercise, the stress is less and it doesn't put as much strain on your wrists.

Because it's a front-loading movement, just like the front squat, it forces you to keep your core "high" and emphasize your quads, just like the front squat.

How are you

  • Get into the squat rack and place the barbell in front of your shoulders.
  • Make sure you are in the middle of the bar with your settings. The central serration (the rough part of the bar) should be right in front of your throat.
  • You'll place your three middle fingers under the bar, just outside your shoulders, with your elbows pointing slightly toward the ceiling.
  • Slide the weight out and stand with one leg in front and the other behind, as if you were doing a split.
  • The breadth of your posture is important here. If you're too wide, you'll put a lot of weight on your back foot as you descend. Keep your posture a little narrower. At the bottom of the movement, your back knee should be about an inch or two behind your front heel.
  • To begin the descent, bend your knee and slide it forward, keeping your entire foot on the floor. Keep your elbows pressed towards the ceiling as you lower yourself down.
  • Keep lowering until your back knee almost touches the ground, but don't let it touch the ground.
  • Once you reach the bottom of the movement, push your feet "through the floor" by driving your chest and elbows toward the ceiling until your front leg is straight.

professional advice

In fact, you can use this move as a mobility exercise if you're using really light loads (something you can do for 15-20 reps). To do this, take a wider stance and keep your back leg almost completely straight as you lower yourself down. Your range of motion will be limited, but with the added weight, you'll get a nice hip flexor stretch.

5. Dumbbell lunges

The standing lunge is a great variation to hit the quads the same way the front squat hits them.

You need a lot of space to make walking movements. About 10 meters in a straight line is enough, as you can go back halfway through the set to add volume to your outfits.

How are you

  • Grab two dumbbells and walk about 10 feet down the walkway.
  • Take a larger step forward than usual and lower yourself to the floor, bending your front knee and lowering your hips.
  • As you lower your hips toward the floor, try to keep as much weight on your front leg as possible. Try not to distribute the weight between the front and hind legs. A good rule of thumb is about 80% and 20% on the front and hind legs, respectively.
  • As you come down, let your front knee roll to the right over your front toes until you can easily roll past your front toes.
  • Keeping weight on the entire foot, press the front foot into the ground and stand up straight.
  • Go directly to the next rep with the opposite foot without taking a step between reps.

professional advice

If you really want to challenge your quads as you step forward, slide your knee forward past your toes as far as possible, keeping your entire foot on the floor. This transfers most of the load to your ATVs safely and efficiently.

(Video) 10 Exercises All Men Should AVOID!


The assisted pistol squat is excellent for reducing bilateral deficits and relieving tension and stress in the quadriceps.

The pistol squat, performed in good position with the hip externally rotated, can be incredibly beneficial for the vastus medialis oblique, or VMO. Your VMO is responsible for correctly tracking the patella (patella) and locking the knee in final extension.

Another huge benefit of assisted pistol squats is the ability to train through the full range of motion, or "ace in the grass." Since you are standing on one leg, you are less constrained by various hip mobility impairments.

How are you

  • Stand on one foot about 6-8 inches in front of a shelf. Extend the opposite leg in front of you with your foot about 2 inches off the floor.
  • Hold on to the shelf in front of you.
  • Bend your knee and drop your hips toward the floor, keeping your entire foot on the floor. As you descend, slide your knee forward as far as possible, keeping your entire foot on the ground.
  • As it descends, it will "screw its foot to the ground" as if trying to aim and move away from its body.
  • Support yourself by lowering your hands onto the support as you lower yourself to the floor. You can use whatever support you need to keep your balance.
  • Keeping your hips as low as possible, keeping your entire foot on the floor and your back straight, push yourself down to the floor and raise your hands on the rack until you are standing upright.

professional advice

With this move, it's incredibly easy to "lean back" because you're holding a rack. You want to stand as straight as possible during this move to keep the tension in your quadriceps high. You can achieve this by "touching" the shelf in front of you, rather than holding on for dear life.

You can also do this exercise with aTRX trainer or sling. There is a video of this version below.

To use:You should start with the assisted variation, but try to make it more difficult until you are doing an unassisted pistol squat at full depth.

Want to know if the front squat improves other exercises? See my article:Do front squats improve deadlifts?

7. Step Up with Dumbbells

Top 10 Front Squat Alternatives (with Pictures) | (5)

The dumbbell step is a classic single leg exercise that can be an effective alternative to the front squat. This is also a relatively easy, low-skill exercise.

To get the most out of this exercise, consider using a box (or bench) that places your knee at a 90-degree angle.

Your goal with this exercise is to keep the load on the front leg. It's tempting to push off with your back leg, especially when you start to tire, but be disciplined and keep your back knee locked once you're on the ground.

How are you

  • Grab two dumbbells.
  • Place one foot on the box or bench, knee directly over the tips of your toes, torso upright and chest "big and proud".
  • Slide your front foot into the box and stand without letting your top knee roll forward from there.
  • Start the descent by lowering your knee and leaning back slightly so you can return the same way you went up.

professional advice

You can increase the difficulty of this move and focus on the negative on the way down. Count 3 to 5 seconds as you lower yourself down and spread that time over the range of motion. This will increase your time under tension, which will help with growth.

Visite aAlternatives to the Bulgarian Squat.

Advanced front squat alternatives

Advanced front squat alternatives offer additional loading opportunities because they involve specific barbell variations.

You should only try these variations if you've already practiced the front squat technique and have experience with the other front squat replacement exercises on this list.

These variations are often used by powerlifters, Olympic lifters, and strength athletes to increase quadruple strength.

(Video) Learn Squat | Squat Mistake | Saurabh Fitness |

8.Squat with safety bar

More and more gyms are investing in squat bars, so you've probably seen one at your local gym.

They look fun, but the bend or curvature of the pole serves an important purpose. Place the plates at the end of the bar in front of you, making it work as if you have the weight in the front support position while you are on your back.

Hesquat safety barforces you to maintain an upright position, so the stimulus is essentially the same as a regular front squat.

How are you

  • Go under the bar with a back pad on your upper back and side pads resting on your traps.
  • Keep the handles against your chest, not in front of your shoulders, to get the full effect of the front squat. Holding the handles up will bring the cymbals closer to where they would be crouched.
  • Plant your feet outside, hip-width apart, with your toes pointing forward. You can rotate your toes about 10 degrees if needed.
  • Keeping your torso upright, lower your hips until your thigh is approximately parallel to the floor, keeping your entire foot on the floor.
  • Once you reach this depth, press your feet into the floor while pushing your chest toward the ceiling.

professional advice

If you want to get bigger, you can increase your time under tension by doing a rest squat with this variation. Pause for 2-3 seconds at the "hole" or bottom of the squat. Don't relax while taking a break. Keep your whole body nice and tight. This will increase your time under tension and even help improve hip mobility.

See the complete guideHack-Squat-Alternativen.

9. Zercher Squats

Top 10 Front Squat Alternatives (with Pictures) | (6)

The Zercher squat is possibly the toughest front squat alternative. It is used by strong athletes who need to mimic specific competitive moves, such as B. picking up a rock.

However, it's still a fun twist to learn if you're not a strong athlete. This will challenge your core, balance, and overall lower body strength.

Instead of holding the bar across your shoulders as you would in a front squat, rest it in the crook of your elbows. It takes the stress off your wrists, but puts more pressure on your biceps and anterior delts.

Since the weight is in front of you, it forces you to maintain an upright position, similar to a front squat.

Check out my complete guide to thoseZercher squats and their benefits, as well as my article comparing theZercher Squats vs Front Squats.

How are you

  • Place the barbell on a squat rack where you can comfortably fit the crook of your elbow under the barbell.
  • Position the bar in the crook of your arm and remember to keep your wrists under your chin by flexing your biceps.
  • With the barbell off the rack, squat down and make sure you squeeze your core hard.
  • When the bar touches your thighs, you can come up to the starting position.

professional advice

This will be a very strange setup for even the most seasoned gym-goer. So start with lighter loads to get comfortable. This exercise places much more stress on the forearms and biceps than a traditional front squat, so it can take some time to build up to challenging leg loads.

See this complete guideFront Squat Mobility: 17 Things You Must Do

10. Overhead Squat with Barbell

to baroverhead squatIt is a very challenging exercise, but it has many benefits.

With the barbell overhead, you need to maintain an upright position and focus on your quads. When done correctly, it also helps develop overhead stability, core control, and hip mobility.

This exercise is not as stressful as many of the other front squat variations, but it will challenge you in a way that these other variations simply cannot.

(Video) 1763: Benefits of Front Squats Vs. Back Squats, the Importance of Practicing Lifts, & More

How are you

  • Drive the barbell into a squat rack and place your index finger on the power rings. If you know what a starting grip is, you can use that too.
  • Get under the bar as if you were doing a traditional squat.
  • Get up and lose weight. Push the bar overhead with feet hip-width apart and toes pointing forward. If you wish, you can rotate your toes 10 degrees for more comfort.
  • While keeping your chest big and proud, lower your hips and bend your knees to allow your hips to drop, keeping your arms straight and weight overhead.
  • As you lower your hips, press your feet into the floor.
  • Keeping the weight on your shoulders, lower your hips until they are as low as possible, keeping your entire foot on the ground.
  • Press your feet into the floor and push the bar toward the ceiling to lift yourself up.

professional advice

You will be limited by the mobility of your shoulders, so if you plan on squatting overhead, start very lightly with just the barbell or even a barbell. Over time, you will be able to increase the load as shoulder mobility increases.

look at my comparisonSafety Bar Squat x Frontkniebeuge.

Reasons to Choose a Front Squat Alternative

Top 10 Front Squat Alternatives (with Pictures) | (7)

While front squats offer many benefits for your body, you may not want to include them in your exercise routine.

However, this is not always possible and you may need to choose a front squat alternative for one of the following reasons.

lack of shoulder mobility

Lack of shoulder mobility leading to wrist pain is probably why people avoid the front squat. If this applies to you, work on improving rib cage mobility (upper back) and scapular stability (scapular stabilizer).

These two things will help increase your range of motion in your shoulder, resulting in pain-free front squats.

Pain when the bar rests in front of the shoulders

This is another very common reason why people look for front squat alternatives. You have less muscle in your shoulders than your upper back, so there's less padding. Exposing yourself to front squats more often over time will help this pain go away.

You Can't Do Front Squats As Much As You Can Do Back Squats

This is the most common reason why people don't do front squats. At first, when you're exposed to front squats, you won't get as strong, and that's okay. Including the front squat can help you squat more over time, and changing the stimulus will help your legs grow.

Lack of upper back strength to stand

This can be frustrating. You feel like there's so much more to your legs, but you just can't stand up straight if you add more weight. Spend some time doing row variations to strengthen your upper back and you'll be handling more weight in no time.

You are too scared to try something new.

The gym is already intimidating for some people, so the idea of ​​trying something new can be daunting. You just need to know that everyone is rooting for you and wanting to see you do your best. Never be afraid to try something new that might help you.

common questions

Can barbell front squats be substituted?

Yes. Two great exercises, the goblet squat and the safety bar squat, offer almost identical training stimuli as the front squat. Both are axially loaded, forcing an upright posture. So if you want to change it up and get the same benefits as front squats, try these two.

Are front squats necessary?

No, you can build an incredible physique without using front squats. However, it's a great way to target the quads and add a little variety to your workout.

Is the front squat an alternative to the leg press?

Yes and no. While both target the quads, glutes, and hamstrings, the front squat is a superior exercise if you're looking to build strength for the sport. The front squat forces you to transmit power through your body, just as you would when running and jumping. The leg press does not have this functionality.

Do weightlifters do front squats?

They do. Many powerlifters mix many squat variations into their training to build strength and adapt to different stimuli in their training.

final thoughts

A good alternative to the front squat mimics the action of the front squat. These alternatives should be compound movements that engage the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and core.

(Video) Build Your Legs with the Barbell Hack Squat

Many of the front squat alternatives discussed are good front squat precursors. Once you've mastered these variations, you'll be in a better position to feel confident and strong in front squats.

When you do an alternating front squat, why can youpain in the wrists or shouldersI encourage you to address these underlying issues when doing front squats rather than avoiding them altogether.

Check out our other popular lower body exercises:

  • 9 Highly Effective Belt Squat Alternatives
  • The 9 Best Bulgarian Split Squat Alternatives
  • The 10 best hyperextension alternatives
  • The 17 best alternatives to leg curls
  • The 5 best box squat alternatives
  • 17 alternatives to the sissy squat
  • 7 wall ball alternatives


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